2012 Zimbabwe: Evaluation of the Basic Education Assistance Module Programme
Author: Harvey Smith, Patrick Chiroro and Paul Musker
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Established in 2001 as a key component of the Enhanced Social Protection Programme (ESPP), the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) is based on a policy and legal framework that is designed to provide quality education to children, including specific policies aimed at supporting orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), as well as a number of international agreements to which the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) is a signatory. BEAM is a demand‐side response to the cost barriers affecting the ability of OVC to access education due to increasing poverty levels in the country. BEAM is now one of the four pillars of the overarching National Action Plan (NAP), currently in its second phase (NAP II), which is intended to reduce household poverty through cash transfers, improve access to child protection services and improve access to basic education and health services. The Child Protection Fund (CPF) is the multi‐donor funding mechanism supporting NAP II, and this is where programme allocations for BEAM are now located; the Project Management Unit (PMU) responsible for BEAM is located in the Department of Social Services (DSS) of the Ministry of Labour and Social Services (MoLSS). Until the end of 2008 BEAM was wholly funded by the GoZ. However, with the advent of hyperinflation, BEAM resources became negligible and failed to reach the intended objective of supporting access to education by the poor and most vulnerable. Revived in the period 2009‐2011, BEAM disbursed US$60.2 million directly to schools to cover tuition fees and levies in primary and secondary schools and examination fees in secondary schools; 45% of this amount was provided by donors. Donor funding beyond this time is uncertain, but the GoZ has committed US$16 million for 2012 for secondary school students.
The purpose of the evaluation is to identify implementation gaps and inform future BEAM programming, which must be aligned with other emerging elements of NAP II related to social protection. The main audience of the evaluation is the GoZ – in particular the MoLSS and the Ministry of Education, Sport, Art and Culture (MoESAC) – and BEAM donors. Specifically the evaluation seeks to:
I. Review the underlying policy assumptions associated with BEAM to determine whether they are still relevant and identify any emerging issues after a decade of implementation.
II. Review the resource allocation methodology used by the PMU to benefit communities.
III. Review the BEAM targeting methodology/identification of beneficiaries and extent of inclusion and exclusion errors.
IV. Determine the effectiveness of institutional arrangements and the roles and efficacy of various stakeholders at all levels (GoZ departments, donors, civil society, local leadership, community selection committees, school development committees);
V. Determine the impact of BEAM on the lives of the beneficiaries, the communities around them and the nation at large.
VI. Identify additional financial and non‐financial barriers affecting children’s access to schools and how BEAM can be part of a holistic approach to overcoming them.
VII. Provide findings, conclusions and specific recommendations with respect to future programme design, budget planning and implementation in both the immediate (2012), medium term (2013‐2015) and long term.
VIII. Determine the extent to which BEAM objectives were achieved.
The evaluation utilised a mixed‐methods approach in which both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and triangulated. Quantitative data were obtained using survey questionnaires in 352 of the 360 schools targeted while qualitative data were obtained through in‐depth interviews and focus group discussions in 40 additional schools. The survey questionnaires aimed to establish conditions of objectivity in which the fieldworkers were relatively detached from the respondents, gathering data by posing already formulated questions. The qualitative interviews and focus groups allowed for more in‐depth expression of subjective experience and reference to context. The quantitative and qualitative approaches are fundamentally complementary, and provide opportunities for deductive and inductive approaches to data analysis in order to gain insights into the social environment in which BEAM has operated. The evaluation methodology is robust, and 98% of the sampled schools were reached. The evaluation did not include an audit component, and the implications are set out in Chapter 3. However, the analysis has included triangulation of data from different respondent types, and we are confident that the conclusions of the evaluation (see Chapter 5) have a strong basis. Where appropriate, we have recommended (see Chapter 6) further investigation into phenomena such as school levy increases and the payment of teacher incentives.
Findings and Conclusions:
- BEAM is a highly relevant and necessary intervention, particularly in the poorest quartile of schools in terms of school income per learner, in which BEAM funds constitute 25% on average of school income; BEAM remains a key strategy for achieving policy goals of the GoZ. Although new legal and policy developments may provide for new mechanisms for addressing access to education by OVC, this is unlikely to have a significant impact on BEAM before the end of its current mandate in 2015.
- While the accuracy of BEAM disbursements is acceptable, the speed with which the disbursements are made to the schools needs to improve.
- BEAM has very largely achieved its objectives, including maintaining gender balance in terms of the numbers of beneficiaries.
- The broader social impact of BEAM is substantial, in particular in terms of improved access to education for poor children, and particularly for orphans and girl children.
- Without BEAM funding schools and communities would not be able (or would struggle) to keep beneficiaries in school. The BEAM objectives are attainable only with continued funding.
There is a need for a wider range of inputs to enhance children’s wellbeing and enhance enrolment and attendance, such as uniforms, food, transport, books and stationery. Respondents reported early marriage and child labour as additional barriers affecting children’s access to schools. These are factors beyond the scope of BEAM and need to be addressed through other social protection mechanisms.
The recommendations presented in Chapter 6 represent the strategic actions that should be taken to improve BEAM implementation with respect to programme design, budget planning and implementation. The recommendations are presented as short‐, medium‐ and long‐term recommendations (2012, 2013‐2015 and post‐2015 respectively).
The lessons presented in Chapter 5 constitute key generalizations from the findings of this evaluation that may be applicable in other local and international settings, bearing in mind the context in which BEAM was designed and implemented. A key lesson is that although BEAM delivers funds to schools rather than households, it is equivalent to social cash transfer programmes in terms of its outcomes and intended social and economic impact. Its specificity is particularly appropriate because the return on investment in education is typically high.
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