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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2013 Iraq: “Improve access to quality basic education in Iraq" - Mid-Term Evaluation

Executive summary

"With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is “Outstanding, Best Practice”, “Highly Satisfactory”, “Mostly Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report."


Geopolicity is pleased to present this Mid-Term Evaluation (MTE) report on the EU-supported Improving Access to Quality Basic Education programme in Iraq.  The programme is large and complex, involving a major shift in the perceptions and practices of the entire primary education system of Iraq.  Whereas, it was formerly assumed that the education system was reflective of learner needs and progress through the primary education cycle, the present programme focuses on learner experience and opportunities to improve the system, effectively from the bottom up. It should be noted that while the educational impact of the programme is not a focus of this study, "change in the child" is nevertheless considered the main aim of education and, therefore, factored into the evaluation of interventions to date.


The objective of this evaluation was to determine, as systematically and objectively as possible, the  relevance, appropriateness and coherence of the EU sponsored programme to “Improve access to quality basic education in Iraq, especially for girls”; the efficiency (referring to carrying out activities on time and within the budgeted cost) with which project activities have been delivered and their respective outputs realized, their connectedness to those produced by other actors; the effectiveness (referring to quality of outputs) of the programme in relation to its objectives; and the program’s sustainability. The evaluation explicitly identifies the factors affecting the programme on these criteria (of relevance, appropriateness, coherence, efficiency, connectedness, effectiveness as mentioned above), including operating factors within and outside the control of UNICEF Iraq office.


The overall approach applied was based on the OECD/DAC Principles for the Evaluation of Development Assistance, and involved a combination of (i) primary data collection, including mixed-­method, interviews/focus groups and direct observations, and (ii) secondary analysis of existing data. The evaluation focus on a selected number of schools both within and outside the current reach of the program, to allow for evidence-based comparison. Extensive informant interviews and discussions were also held with Ministry of Education (MoE) officials, UNICEF staff members and partner staff.

Findings and Conclusions:

Improving the quality of education is central to the programme. In the context of Iraq’s recovery and restoration, the term ‘child‐friendly’ maps onto the idea of a good school, with good teachers, giving good education, with good results. These are not just exam results, or promotion to the next school but skills, and social and psychological competences.
Providing sufficient support at the teacher level is key to all education sector reforms in Iraq, and the Evaluation Team welcomes UNICEF’s holistic approach to supporting teachers through and beyond the scope of training. Full support needs to be given to this approach.
Learners’ role in enhancing their educational environment requires further attention, and opportunities could be explored in the programme to engage children in creating enriched school environments including the posting of pictures, diagrams, maps on school premises, which also encourage accidental and incidental learning. Most schools observed offer limited facilities that allow for extracurricular activities, such as sport, art, music or science.
The evaluation concludes that the project needs to further emphasize and clarify its intended added value to basic education in Iraq, in terms of impact on change in children.


High-­level recommendations:
1. Allow for a greater and more active role of the school management, teachers and parents in the school administration.
2. Conduct ongoing modifications and improvements in the program in line with realities on the ground.
3. There is a compelling justification for a no-cost extension at least up until the end of 2014 (perhaps beyond), given the need to (i) focus on communication and socialization of reforms to make quality-inducing changes stick (ii) allow government greater time to institutionalize the overall ethos and approach.
4. Allow flexibility in the re-­allocation of budget items to support the implementation of School Improvement Plans (SIPs) until the government is able to finance these items through the budget process in consultation and coordination between the Ministry of Education and UNICEF at the country and regional levels.
5. We recommend abandoning the non-­performing programme elements and re-­directing funds earmarked for these items to sustainable activities in the areas specified by the Ministry.
6. Since there are so many external factors affecting the functioning of the program, we recommend that the focus should be on outcomes and impact.
7. Establish better monitoring mechanisms, such us joint monitoring visits to schools, to determine the results and their impact on the child and the school.
8. Adjustments should be made to the ALP program, that the move away from intermediate coverage be documented and justified.
9. Branding and Ownership: We recommend a greater focus on branding and ownership; and,
10. Consider the introduction of incentives, such as tokens, badges and promotions to foster local ownership and make participants proud of being part of the programme.

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