Mid term evaluation report – Building Resilience with Safer Schools in Liberia
Background The project is part of the Plan Norway Norad cooperation agreement 2016-2019 and is implemented in Liberia in cooperation with Plan International Liberia. The overall goal for the project ‘Building Resilience with Safer Schools in Liberia’ is to ensure that children have uninterrupted access to education in safe and conducive learning environment that protect their rights and dignity. The project result framework was revised in 2017 to include education, child protection and DRR/safe schools related results. The project is implemented in 30 local communities in Bomi, Lofa and Nimba counties. Purpose/objective The main purpose of the evaluation is learning: To identify strengths and weaknesses in the project in order to guide the project towards improvement during the current implementing period 2016-2019, and for planning of future interventions. Methodology A total of 21 out of 30 communities were sampled for the evaluation. A pre-tested data collection tools were administered to each individual respondents for different categories of project’s stakeholders. The evaluation team interviewed the following stakeholders: # Stakeholders Sample Size 1 Students 358 2 School Authority 21 3 PTA 30 4 Civil Societies 5 5 Education duty bearers 15 Key findings Monitoring routine, data collection/documentation routine, learning routine: Key monitoring activities is done by the Plan International Liberia education officers and M&E officer and in some locations staff from the government line ministries collaborated with project’s staff on joint monitoring visits. However, project stakeholders including vulnerable populations, women, girls, and children with disabilities are less involved in project planning, design and monitoring. The evaluators suggests improved beneficiary participation in monitoring be improved to strengthen ownership and sustainability of the interventions. Beneficiaries are currently involved in project implementation but not in some key aspects of the project such as revision of project’s budget and revision of result framework. Routine anti-corruption in the project at Plan International Liberia: The evaluation concludes that Plan International Liberia has strong stands against corruptions, bribery, harassment and bullying. There are key policy documents that each project staff signed prior to joining Plan International Liberia. Project’s fund utilization: The evaluation team reviewed documentations relating to fund utilizations for calendar year 2017. It was confirmed that the fund allotted for 2017 was over utilized. Several budget lines were overspent, including administrative cost. A number of reasons were given, including creeping inflation and poor costing. The evaluation states that Plan International Liberia project staff and management are aware of the reasons for over utilization of project fund, and that several adjustments are made in the budget to fully cost all budget’s items. According to the evaluation report (page 17) “the evaluation team thinks the steps taken to make adjustments is the best way going forward”. Results monitoring routine: The project results framework was adjusted in 2017 to align with Plan Norway efforts to aggregate results across all projects funded by the Norad framework agreement. The evaluation report points out that there is some confusion within Plan as to how this affected the project, and that it may have led to changes in some of the project activities. Progress towards outcomes: The project thematic focus include education, child protection and safe schools (reflecting Plan Norway results framework), with corresponding outcomes and output level indicators. The evaluation team found it challenging to compare to the baseline data since not all indicators had figure for baseline. The evaluators investigated status on indicators for all thematic areas. On the overall, the project made significant progress towards its outcomes under education thematic area. Under child protection, progress towards two of the indicators was very low while one has been met. Under safe schools thematic area, according to the evaluation report (page 3) “it appears that the project also made number of remarkable achievements”. Recommendations Project’s beneficiaries including vulnerable women, girls and boys are at the center stage of project’s implementation despite not been involved in designing and planning of activities. Despite, there are little likely that the project will be sustained if not revised to increase participation of beneficiaries and stakeholders at all levels. Knowledge management needs to be strengthened amongst field project staff, beneficiaries about what the project hopes to achieve especially with the revision of its result frameworks. Field staff provided varying accounts about the project. This is a threat to sustainability. Project needs to make efforts to completely align the result framework with the budget, and the detailed implementation plan (DIP). Some activities are not fully costed. The project seems ineffective based on factors discussed above but efficient in terms of most likely meeting its targets against the outcomes. Comments from Plan The evaluation report found the project to be effective and most likely would meet its targets against the outcomes. However, it found the project in some respects to be inefficient as it spread the work to too many themes and locations. Despite a limited budget, the project covers three thematic areas and three separate locations. With the limited budget, it could have been more effective to limit the thematic and geographic scope of the project. Plan Norway will aim to have a narrower thematic and geographic scope in future projects, as well as fewer projects that each will have a larger project budget.