Improving the learning conditions of children from Chota Province
Background The project "Improving the learning conditions of children from Chota province" was started in 1996 after a process involving education and municipality authorities, representatives for communities, parents and teachers and with Cooperación y Desarrollo as implementing agency. The final evaluation took place in July 2003, 6 months after the project ended in December 2002. The evaluation report was completed in January 2004. Purpose/objective The Objective of the evaluation was on monitoring and evaluation and on tools and processes that can be used for self-monitoring and to set the direction for future project work. The objective of the project itself was "To improve teaching and learning conditions of children from Chota Province and raise awareness among parents and community about the importance of education for their children." Methodology The evaluation was carried out in a participatory manner, involving a range of stakeholders in interviews and focus groups. The interviewees included school children, families/parents, teachers, representatives of education authorities and the communities and the CODE staff members, the latter to get access to project specific information, financial and statistical information, etc. as well as for participation and learning purposes. Key findings Since the start of the project in 1996 it has achieved its objective to improve school facilities for 10,756 children in Chota, Hualgayoc and Santa Cruz Provinces in Cajamarca Department. Schools have been improved in more than 50 villages by contribution also from the communities in the form of labour, local materials etc. An important part of the project has been to help people on self-development, along side improvement of children's school facilities, also through awareness building, health campaigns and training for community members and teachers. The collaboration with the education authorities has been good, and the Sub Region of Education in Chota monitor the project activities. The Ministry of Education in Peru has developed new guidelines for education which are within the CODE priorities, like quality education, rural education, adapted school terms and calendars to suit the communities` calendar. The education authorities realise the importance of skill training for youths in order to participate in productive life either as employeesor through start up of small businesses and they have approved CODE`s application to start decentralised vocational training in a range of skills. Recommendations i) Literacy work with communitiesCODE should look into how they can continue to provide literacy training to community members, especially women, in the new project.ii) Teacher trainingFocus should be on training that is relevant in the actual community that can be applied and utilised right away. Focus should also be on the quality of education provided and that the community should be directly involved in discussing and defining the specific needs for training in each community.iii) Participation and community mobilisationCommunity mobilisation, awareness work and motivation for self-development might be the most important ingredients of the project in a long-term development perspective. Advocacy for education and organisation of community support should be an important focus in the up coming new project. It is necessary to train communities in subjects like management and project planning in order for them to fully take a leading role in their own development.iv) Institutional collaborationThroughout the project period there has been good cooperation with the education authorities through agreements with the Sub Region of Education in Chota. The good collaboration with education authorities, municipalities and local authorities should be further developed and strengthened.v) Monitoring and follow upDespite being a huge area the project covers, it is advised that CODE increases the number of visits to the communities with closer follow to increase motivation to keep the activity level up by the schools, the teachers and the communities.vi) Training needs in communityTo promote sustainable development in the communities, training in preservation of the soil and improvement of existing agricultural methods is recommended since most people in the community depend on farming, therefore agriculture and environment should be given priority.vii) The Ecological KindergartenThere is a need for more local support and in this regards it would benefit from a core group that advocates for the ecological ideas of the nursery school and for securing resources for the future. Involvement from the community and parents is important to develop the place further. Comments from the organisation The outcomes and recommendations of the review were well received by all parties involved. In spite of SF's preference, the suggested new proposal covered an area of about 40 villages & 50 schools. The subsequent phase of the project included new key components as literacy work for women, and innovative ways to empower teachers, school children, parents and educational authorities. The project also included training of community youth leaders according to their mostfelt needs. The self defence groups became part of the project participants. More local participation in the Ecological Kindergarten was encouraged.During the new phase, SF was able to follow up the project in a more strategic manner. Unfortunately, internal institutional disorders and differences among the project staff in Chota and the Executive Director in Otuzco, La Libertad, led SF to end support to the project and the partnership with CODE in one year earlier that originally planned for (2006).