Education Quality and Access in Liberia (EQUAL) Final Performance Evaluation
The purpose of EQUAL is to improve school management and safety across 100 schools in the five districts of Grand Bassa aiming to effect systemic and strategic change to increase sustainability and impact at county and national levels. The period of performance of EQUAL is from August 29, 2013– October 30, 2017. The original scope of the EQUAL activity included three outcomes:
- Outcome 1: Improved learning outcomes in early grade reading and numeracy with an emphasis on mother tongue.
- Outcome 2: Increased commitment to ensure equitable access by stakeholders at school, district, county and national level.
- Outcome 3: A safe and child friendly school environment in all target schools.
The evaluation utilized a mixed-method design including a desk review, focus group discussions (FGDs), and key informant interviews (KIIs) to ensure that the information generated was useful to USAID and the MOE. This method was selected to address the evaluation questions by eliciting rich information from multiple sources, creating an opportunity to triangulate trends and themes. Primary data collection took place in Monrovia and Grand Bassa County in May and June 2017. The evaluation team identified a purposive sample of 20 schools with varying student populations across the five districts in Grand Bassa County. Thirteen schools were selected as alternate schools to be included in the sample if any of the primary sample schools were found to be inaccessible or closed. The number of schools selected for the sample per district was determined based on the total percentage of EQUAL schools located in each of five districts.
A major objective of EQUAL was to improve school management leading to increased enrollment and student attendance. Relevant findings and conclusions include the following:
- EQUAL has been successful in creating functional PTAs in a relatively short period of time: Not only were the PTAs formed, they engaged with the school and communities giving special attention to student enrollment and attendance.
- EQUAL trained principals on school management. One of the significant improvements was in school record keeping.
- Student enrollment increased. The most recent figure from Q2 FY2017 from the 99 schools shows a total enrollment of 6,875, exceeding the target of 6,800. The average enrollment for the previous school year was 6,606.
- Student attendance increased, although it did not meet targets. Attendance increased from 57% to 62%, (Female 59%; Male 66%) but did not reach the target of 68%.
- There was a modest increase in teacher attendance. Attendance increased from the baseline of 53% to 58% (Female 41%; Male 74%), but this fell short of the target of 70%.
- EQUAL has created an innovative new role called change makers. The four change makers in each school worked successfully in the schools and communities to promote gender equity and address School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV).
- There was a slight decrease in the percentage of children who reported being beaten or flogged from the baseline to the final KAP survey (24.0% to 22.2%). In addition, there was a significant reduction in the percentage of children who saw others being beaten, down from 27.0% to 16.5%. However, the FGDs with students show that this is still a significant problem with 22 of 33 focus groups sharing that beatings and floggings are still prevalent in their school.
- EQUAL worked well within the County, but had little engagement with the national MOE after the contract amendment in May 2016. As a result, Concern Worldwide has not laid the foundation for national replication.
- EQUAL had only begun to develop a closeout and transition plan at the time of the evaluation. The late development of these plans may hinder the sustainability of EQUAL activities.