We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.

Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2014 CEE/CIS and Baltic States: Multi-Country Evaluation (MCE): Including All Children in Quality Learning in CEE/CIS (RKLA 4)

Author: Joachim Pfaffe, Ans Smulders, Stefan Silvestrini, P Linh Nguyen and Susanna Tadevosyan

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.


Although national primary school enrolment rates in the CEE/CIS region are, on average relatively high, millions of children nevertheless remain without access to equality education. UNESCO estimated in 2010 that 3.7 million children of primary and lower-secondary school age, 1.6 million children of pre-primary school age and 12 million adolescents were out of school in CEE/CIS. Children and adolescents out of school are those from the most socially, culturally and economically marginalised communities and thus are the hardest to reach.

UNICEF’s vision in CEE/CIS is that every child in the region will access and complete a basic education of good quality. To support this vision UNICEF has, for the past decade, implemented a ‘system’ approach to programming to contribute to concrete changes at institutional, societal and individual levels. 

In 2012, UNICEF decided to commission an independent evaluation of its basic education work in the region as part of a series of thematic multi-country evaluations framed around the organizations global and regional strategy.


The overall goal of this Multi-Country Evaluation was: (i) to assess the extent to which UNICEF's programme interventions contributed to results at impact level for children – in terms of reduction in the number of children out of school and improved quality of education - learning outcomes; and (ii) to generate learning on practices, innovations and models that can be shared throughout the region.

The specific objectives of the evaluation were: (i) to document results in terms of changes in children’s inclusion in school and reduction of equity gaps; (ii) to assess how system changes led to impact results; and (iii) to document the contribution of UNICEF to these system changes and assess how results achieved at country level have contributed to UNICEF regional Theory of Change.

The evaluation covered the period 2002-2012 in five countries which had reported significant results in terms of increased enrolment and retention of Roma, children with disabilities and girls: Armenia; Kosovo* , the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.


The evaluation methodology included a desk review covering both literature and statistical data at national level and five country visits where key informant interviews, focus group discussions, self-assessments by national education officials and UNICEF staff and classroom observations took place. The independent evaluation was conducted in 2013 and 2014.

Findings and Conclusions:

Trends over time suggest that, over the past decade, primary education enrolment rates have increased or stabilized in the five countries, gender parity in primary education has improved in Kosovo* and in Turkey, and both girls and boys have increasingly gained equal opportunities to progress from primary through to lower secondary. However, while Roma children access primary education, they start dropping out in lower secondary in all visited countries. Nevertheless, significant progress in lower secondary attendance is observed for both Roma boys and girls, for example in Serbia where the attendance rate of the 11-15 year old children has increased. There has been an increase in the number of children with special educational needs being deinstitutionalized to attend mainstream schools (whether in special or mainstream classes) in Armenia, Serbia, Turkey and Kosovo*, while in Turkey, the number of children with special educational needs enrolled in regular schools doubled between 2009 and 2012.

UNICEF’s work has significantly contributed to system changes in countries. Challenges to the effectiveness of UNICEF’s work include weak national capacities for planning and management, weak capacities at decentralised levels, lack of multi-sector cooperation and lack of integration of education systems.

While policy planning processes have become more evidence and results-based, the decentralisation of education functions and the critical role of local education officers and school directors require a holistic capacity development approach for all schools to be able adequately to engage with equity access and equity learning.

Education sector planning has become increasingly challenging as more ministries are becoming engaged in the process. Harmonisation of policies and plans across sectors has also become an issue in countries where sectors are still thinking in silos. Addressing poverty related barriers to education and the inclusion of children facing complex and overlapping disadvantages requires a holistic approach to education and a genuine collaboration between ministries, organisations and agencies.

For the environment to be truly enabling, societal norms and standards regarding diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination need to support policy development and implementation. By increasingly making their voices heard, minority group representatives have contributed to changing mind sets. Progress is, however, slow and there is a need for more or different type of work on changing societal norms and social and cultural practices around demand for education and learning.

The focus of both policies and practices has mostly been on enrolment and retention of marginalised groups. While many teachers have been trained and some are applying child-centred active learning methods, classroom practices remain mostly traditional and teacher-centred. More knowledge, know-how and readiness from teachers, directors and officials is needed to enhance quality and tackle equity in learning outcomes and participation and achievement of all children.

Expansion and “mainstreaming” of inclusive education has proven difficult in the evaluated countries. More technical assistance from the regional office is required on this as well as on how to build partnerships for leveraging influence and funding at the country level.


General recommendations:
Rec 1: Intensify the realisation of equitable participation and learning i.e. move from quantitative to qualitative inclusion.
Rec 2: Focus on operationalising “transformation” in a systemic sense, in order to achieve systemic changes.

Recommendations for the Regional Office:
Rec 3: Focus on knowledge generation and exchange across the region.
Rec 4: Generate discussion around the concept of inclusion and its implications for education systems at all levels.
Rec 5: Advocate the cross-sectoral dimension of inclusion to build new partnerships and leverage funds.
Rec 6: Facilitate the identification of quality standards for inclusive education which rather than reinforcing exclusion cover social norms, the active involvement of all learners in learning and the benefits of diversity for all learners.

Recommendations for the Country Office:
Rec 7: Support national education institutions to make inclusive policies a reality on the ground through technical assistance placed directly in institutions.
Rec 8: Raise awareness of all stakeholders about the broad meaning of inclusion, going beyond children with special educational to encompass all excluded children.
Rec 9: Strengthen M&E systems to monitor the qualitative aspects of inclusion particularly around perceptions and mindsets and classroom interactions.
Rec 10: Create linkages in the monitoring architecture enabling to draw conclusions on the impact of social issues on education, such as ethnicity and poverty.
Rec 11: Strengthen inter-sectoral coordination and the links between inclusive education and social policy development.
Rec 12: Support the paradigm shift required by a truly inclusive education system, particularly in terms of organisation of teaching and learning in school and the holistic and cross-sectoral support required by inclusion.
Rec 11: Strengthen the education continuum from preschool to primary to secondary education to ensure continuity in cognitive and emotional development and to trigger increased enrolment and attendance in education.

Full report in PDF

PDF files require Acrobat Reader.



Report information


Baltic States





New enhanced search