2012 Global: Formative Evaluation of the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI)
Author: Muriel Visser Valfrey
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As you may be aware, the evaluation of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative was completed earlier in the year (February) and shared with the Global Advisory Committee (GAC) last week (May 2012) in Kampala, Uganda.
Conducted ten years after the establishment of UNGEI as a partnership to promote and support girls’ education, the evaluation sought to establish a baseline for UNGEI vis a vis the three UNGEI outcome areas (i. Advocating for and institutionalizing policy and for girls’ education and gender equality; ii. Identifying and disseminating good practice in girls’ education; iii. Establishing a strong partnership for girls education) and to document UNGEI achievements and successes and challenges; and to examine interactions between the global, country and regional levels of the partnership. In addition, the proposed UNGEI Monitoring and Evaluation Framework which will form the basis for future assessment of progress was validated through the evaluation process.
The evaluation took place over a period of nine months. A mapping of 57 countries which were on record as having an active partnership or some UNGEI-led activities was conducted, as well as four case studies - Egypt, Nepal, Nigeria, and Uganda – and an evaluation of the East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) regional partnership.
A summary of evaluation findings, recommendations, and a management response is attached. The evaluation of the partnership was commissioned by the GAC, managed by the UNICEF Evaluation Office and M&E Officers from case study countries, and quality assured by reference groups for each level (for the global study, the regional study, and four reference groups for the country studies).
This report documents the findings and recommendations of the formative evaluation of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI). The evaluation took place in 2011, ten years after the establishment of UNGEI and sought to:
- Establish a baseline for UNGEI, and
- Document achievements and challenges in the three UNGEI outcome areas:
- Policy and advocacy for girls’ education and gender equality
- Good practice identification and dissemination
- Partnership establishment
The evaluation examined the interactions between the global, country and regional levels of the partnership. In addition, it validated through the evaluation process, the proposed UNGEI Monitoring and Evaluation Framework which will form the basis for future assessment of progress.
The evaluation took place over a period of nine months and covered four case studies ‐ Egypt, Nepal, Nigeria, and Uganda – and an evaluation of the East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) regional partnership. In addition, a mapping was conducted for 57 countries which were on record as either having an active partnership or some UNGEI‐led activities, as well as conducting interviews with global stakeholders, and undertaking a review of documentation. Quality assurance was provided by UNICEF Monitoring and Evaluation Officers, while national, regional and global reference groups commented on the methodology, draft and final reports.
Challenges to the evaluation included retroactively establishing baselines for each partnership in contexts where records and documentation were not systematically kept. The high staff turn‐over in agencies complicated the task further, as did the poor security in some countries. Notwithstanding these limitations, the evaluation was able to collect and triangulate sufficient data for the key areas of inquiry, allowing it to respond to the main evaluation questions.
UNGEI was launched in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar with the purpose of supporting the achievement of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3 on promoting gender equality and empowering women. This evaluation takes place 10 years after UNGEI was established and has two main objectives, as noted in the terms of reference:
“To establish a baseline against which progress towards achieving results can be measured in the future” and To explore “the extent to which the UNGEI partnership is achieving its intended outcomes at country level, and the extent to which the global efforts are contributing to the effectiveness and efficiency of the UNGEI partnership.”
The full terms of reference for the evaluation can be found in Annex 1.
The evaluation uses UNGEI’s three outcome areas as a foundation for examining progress and establishing the baseline. The country and regional assessments that were part of this evaluation therefore sought to assess the progress in these outcome areas. Specifically, this related to assessing the extent to which:
1. Policies that promote girls’ education and gender equality are in existence;
2. Good practices in facilitating girls’ education and gender equality are known and institutionalized; and
3. UNGEI facilitates an effective partnership for girls’ education and gender equality.
The methodological basis for evaluation is contribution analysis (Mayne, 1999).
Findings and Conclusions:
Evaluation findings underscore that UNGEI has played a prominent policy advocacy role for girls’ education and gender equality in selected fora. This role has been particularly prominent globally, in the EARP region, as well as in selected countries – such as Nigeria and Uganda.
As a result of its policy advocacy role, UNGEI has established itself as a recognized partnership in the global dialogue around girl’s education and gender equality. UNGEI’s participation and technical inputs at global education fora and initiatives – such as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report – have contributed to a stronger focus on girls’ education and gender equality in policy dialogue, in documentation, and in policy discussions. The regional level where UNGEI is resourced with Regional Focal Points (RFPs) had two different approaches. The East Asia and Pacific Region (EAPR) has established a formal partnership which has made substantive contribution to policy and advocacy.
However, the EAPR partnership approach was found to be limited by the absence of outreach into the countries in the region, and by the fact that there is little evidence that it uses the member organizations as a channel for reaching into countries for advocacy purposes. In the other regions (Eastern and Southern Africa Region, Middle East and North Africa, West and Central Africa Region) the focus has instead been on supporting national partnerships in their efforts towards advancing girls’ education and gender equality. UNGEI members and stakeholders are of the opinion that UNGEI should continue to play a key role in policy advocacy efforts in the immediate and medium term.
The evaluation findings result in the following main areas of recommendation:
1. UNGEI should make policy advocacy the main priority for its future endeavors at global level and equip itself to be a strong advocate for the priorities that it identifies.
2. UNGEI should develop a plan of priority activities and publications that is aligned with UNGEI’s proposed medium term agenda in policy advocacy.
3. Strengthen the global UNGEI partnership
4. Enhance the capacity and the relevance of the work that is done by UNGEI at regional level
5. Strengthening national level partnerships
Full report in PDF
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