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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2014 Guyana: Piloting Health and Family Life Education as a Timetabled Subject in Guyana

Author: The Consultancy Group

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.


This evaluation report, commissioned by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) contains the findings of a three-month  evaluation of the MoE’s piloting of Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) as a timetabled subject within the secondary school system . The evaluation occurred at a critical juncture, as since the introduction of HFLE as a timetabled subject in 2010, the programme has been expanded to at least eighty additional schools throughout Guyana but no systematic evaluation has been conducted on its relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability.

This life-skills centred HFLE programme is a key component in the government’s policy and this evaluation has been commissioned to inform the Ministry’s future planning and programming, since the ministry is reviewing and conducting a strategic planning exercise for the next five years (2014-2019). 

In total 1,086 students were surveyed in 26 HFLE and non-HFLE schools, 23 HFLE teachers participated in the evaluation, and approximately 60 interviews were conducted with key stakeholders at the national, regional and local (community and school) levels.


The main purpose of the evaluation is to “determine the extent to which and how were HFLE Life Skills Based Curriculum Pilot Programme, as a timetabled subject, has and is achieving its objectives”. The aim of the evaluation was to review the piloting of HFLE in 30 secondary schools, covering the period from September 2010 to June 2013 . For the evaluation these schools were compared with those that were not exposed to HFLE. The evaluation was also meant to identify lessons learned to inform policy makers, in the future expansion of HFLE as a timetabled subject in the country.

The specific objectives of the evaluation, as stated in the ToR, are to:              
1. Determine the extent to which and how were HFLE Life Skills Based Curriculum Pilot Programme, as a timetabled subject, has and is achieving its objectives.
2. Based on the findings with regards to number 1, identify sources, facilitating factors and challenges encountered in the pilot program
3. Drawing on findings in 1 and 2 compile lessons learned and elaborate their implications for the design of the programme to expand HFLE as a timetable subject to cover all schools in country.


The evaluation was guided by an evaluation framework, which was prepared jointly with UNICEF and MoE during the inception phase,  and which was used to develop a logic model for the intervention since none existed. The evaluation employed both qualitative and quantitative methods and was carried out by an inter-disciplinary team, which included a social researcher and a methodological expert.

The fieldwork component of the evaluation integrated the use of a combination of methods: a student outcome survey, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. The evaluation also benefitted from the presence of some baseline data for several schools in three out of six regions of the evaluation.

The evaluation consisted of:

- A literature review of international literature and regional frameworks including the Global Life Skills Evaluation;
- A review of relevant HFLE documents largely acquired from the Ministry of Education including reports, TORs, correspondence, surveys and monitoring sheets;
-Fieldwork using mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative approaches and tools).

Findings and Conclusions:

HFLE enjoys broad support at all levels of Guyana’s education system. There is consensus among several key stakeholders that the programme is highly relevant to the on-the-ground realities of students, which can practically equip them in a way that other subjects and teaching methods does not.

HFLE, as a timetabled subject, appears to have been effective in improving the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the students in relation to 50% of the indicators, but the results either lack significance or are inconclusive for the remaining 50% of the indicators. The significant improvements are all either moderate or small which means that the effectiveness of the programme is marginal overall.

The overall direct investment in HFLE has been relatively low, with the program being funded largely by a UNICEF grant of US $107,000 since 2010. The evaluation found no record of a strategic assessment, or resultant budget, which reflects the actual cost to implement the HFLE programme. Instead activities seem to have been implemented based on funding availability and key annual actions such as training.

HFLE as a timetabled subject has had small or moderate impact on 57% of the indicators of unwanted behaviours, but none on the others. The programme appears to have reduced the proportion of students reporting to have been bullied moderately, with smaller reductions in the proportions of students who reported to have used alcohol, or drugs, or early sexual onset.

The implementation of the pilot-programme was heavily reliant on external, non-government, funding from sources such as USAID, and more significantly UNICEF.  There has been no indication that any significant review or change in the current implementation is planned. The government, and in particular senior officials within MoE have demonstrated high levels of political will and ownership of the HFLE programme.


1. Greater Investment in HFLE
Greater effort should be made to advocate for the allocation of adequate sustainable financing and other resources for the programme since much of its viability and effectiveness in the long-term will be hinged on adequate and sustained investment.
2. Policy Revision  
Guyana’s HFLE policy framework should be better integrated into CARICOM’s HFLE framework, standards and best practices. This could be ensured by reviewing and revising the current School Health, Nutrition and HIV&AIDS policy.
3. National HFLE Implementation Plan
There is need for a comprehensive plan for HFLE with standards, measurable goals and objectives, an institutional structure, a workplan, logical framework and a budget. The plan should be used as a basis for both planning and resource mobilization.
4. Stronger Collaboration between Home, School and Community
Greater linkages should be fostered at all levels including: at the national level with key agencies that are currently not involved, in determining collaboration with civil society organizations and in particular with parents who were generally found to play a limited role in the programme and to have limited awareness. This would further assist in local level joint prioritisation of issues, and the achievement of the desired outcomes of the programme on the participating students and their families.
5. Improved Coordination
The role and functions of the National HFLE Steering Committee should be reviewed. The committee’s role should include the monitoring of policy implementation, providing guidance and ensuring compliance and fulfilment of regional/international standards and best practices.
6. Sustained Capacity Development
Based on the deficiencies identified in the other sections, HFLE’s implementation should be supported by a clear plan for capacity development both at the individual and organizational/institutional levels.

Lessons Learned:

The majority of teachers (forty-three percent) said that they improvised the curriculum, which is consistent with other regional reports which found, “some schools select only parts of the curriculum to impart to students,” and linked to this is the varying styles of teaching, as the teacher reports show whilst some teachers centred all of their teaching on “group discussion” other used a wide array of teaching methods such as debates, the use of journals and other creative methods in keeping with the curriculum.

Capability and Capacity Issues
Although HFLE teachers are largely supportive of, and committed to the project, the majority of them were not trained and as a result, some of them were unsure of how to implement this very dynamic approach to skills transfer. Despite the fact that the majority of teachers said that HFLE fits with the teaching culture, it is a significantly different way of teaching - both in content and in approach.

Behavioural Change
The evaluation found that the programme had moderate success in achieving its objectives based on the more than one thousand completed student survey questionnaires. In some areas there were no improvements in the student’s skills or attitudes. Moderate or small effects occur for 50% of the indicators, whereas no effect occurs for 40% of the indicators and the results for 10% of the indicators are inconclusive. The overall failure of the HFLE students to acquire adequate levels of knowledge points, among other things, to issues with the delivery of the content by the teachers.

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