2016 Oman: Evaluation report on the Govt of Oman- UNICEF Child Friendly School Initiative
Author: EduEval Educational Consultancy
With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as 'Part 3'.
The Sultanate of Oman is a high-income country that has been acknowledged regionally and globally for its rapid human development over the past forty years. The education system in Oman has faced many challenges that required strategic attention from the government. Upon reflection, the Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) initiative was developed and implemented to promote greater student success.
The purpose of the evaluation was to inform the scaling-up potential of the CFS initiative to include all schools in Oman.
The purpose of the evaluation is to inform the scaling-up potential of the CFS initiative to include all schools in Oman. Adopting a utilization-focused approach, this evaluation offers practical information to help the key stakeholders understand the extent to which the CFS initiative has positively influenced pilot schools (in terms of the learning environments and the learning outcomes for the children in these schools) and communities (in terms of level of engagement between the school and the community) in Oman, as compared to reference schools, since its inception in 2012.
The evaluation employed a utilization-focused approach to answer the key questions of the evaluation. The data was collected from both pilot and reference schools in a quasi -experimental design in which the overall results from the pilot schools were compared to reference schools.
Both primary and secondary, as well as qualitative and quantitative, data was used. Qualitative data was collected from both groups of schools via focus groups and individual interviews with students, parents, teachers, national team members, school principals, and the CFS programme leadership. Quantitative data was to be collected via online surveys shared with the CFS programme leadership, principals and teachers in pilot and reference schools; however, none of the intended participants responded. To mitigate this challenge, secondary data was obtained from the MoE, but the secondary data received was incomplete for the purpose of this evaluation.
Findings and Conclusions:
The CFS initiative is still not fully operational and requires more time for it to reach a practical stage for many stakeholders.
- Relevance: CFS’ key areas – especially child rights – are moving along with the Ministry’s key priorities. The Omani focus on child rights may result in duplication of efforts without greater coordination.
- Efficiency: Drawing a final conclusion regarding the budget allocated for the implementation of CFS was not possible.
- Effectiveness (addresses the six pillars of the CFS initiative): The health, safety and protection; child rights; and learning effectiveness pillars were found to be more successfully than others (inclusion, gender-responsiveness, and societal participation).
- Sustainability: Three factors were identified as sustainability drivers/hinderers; these are: (1) investment of material resources; (2) training of all stakeholders; and (3) the workload that the initiative requires.
- Coordination and Partnership: CFS would benefit from greater practical communication within schools and the Ministry, as well as across government agencies.
Human Rights-Based Approach: CFS can advance Oman’s current national and international commitments to human rights by targeting the public school system. Specifically, focusing on inclusion and pedagogy would be well-received by the local authorities.
- Results-Based Management: Both CFS and the Ministry departments working with the initiative would benefit from more defined monitoring and evaluation structures, including streamlined indicators, regular data collection, and additional disaggregation of data. CFS is not yet ready to scale in its entirety at this time but has many opportunities for partnership across government agencies and should explore them to fully leverage all available resources in the expansion of CFS
- More time is needed for the implementation and institutionalization of CFS.
- Inclusion needs greater emphasis at all levels.
- Gender-responsiveness needs greater clarity and emphasis at all levels.
- A shared logic model for a unified M&E strategy is needed.
- Key indicators for results-based management need to be refined and standardized in a toolkit.
- Results should be disaggregated by agreed-upon key inclusion factors.
- A unified M&E toolkit for stakeholders is needed.
- It is critical to continue to build capacity at all levels for CFS with scalability in mind.
- Partnerships for CFS need to become more explicit and public.
- The alignment of CFS to national strategies needs to be better communicated among both Ministry of Education departments and Omani government institutions as a whole.
- A policy focus should be included in the initiative for sustainability and scalability.
- Collaborative planning for phased replication of successful dimensions should be undertaken.
- School-based and other MoE staff workload should be addressed for practical success and scalability.
The CFS initiative is still not fully operational and requires more time for it to reach a practical stage for many stakeholders. Some pillars of CFS appear to be more successful than others. For the initiative to be fully implemented, greater focus, resources and time in those areas with less implementation is needed. Given the nature of CFS, which seeks to change human behaviour and beliefs in sensitive areas of child rights and education, this is a normal phenomenon. Relevance Stakeholders interviewed agreed that CFS’ key areas - especially child rights - constitute key priorities for the Ministry of Education, and that Oman more generally has undertaken important commitments with regard to human rights and child protection. As a result, strong possibilities for CFS to partner across different agencies of the Omani government exist. Several human rights frameworks already exist in the country, and could provide a basis for a broader emphasis on child rights in the public school system. However, Oman’s existing focus on human rights, and especially child rights, as addressed by the Ministry of Education, presents the possibility of duplication with the CFS efforts. In addition, other agencies, such as the Human Rights Commission, have already developed printed materials on child rights, and such efforts do not need to be duplicated.
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