Mid Term Evaluation of Norad Project
Background Plan is implementing the Promoting Inclusive Education (PIE) project in Baglung, Parbat, Myagdi, Bardiya, and the Promoting Community Based Safe Schools project in Sindhuli, in partnership with local CSOs. The projects are part of the 2016-2019 framework agreement with Norad. The current evaluation is a mid-term evaluation of the project that aims to provide recommendation for implementation during the reminder of the project period. Purpose/objective The Mid-Term Review (MTR) assessed the degree to which planned outcomes around the four projects are on course to achieve the targeted results. The key objectives of the MTR was to assess the projects for the following: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, project management and sustainability. The MTR also assessed the project’s performance on cross cutting issues; gender equality, disability inclusion, unexpected results, added value and participation. The PIE project is a social inclusion and inclusive education project, aiming to improving education for in particular girls, children living with disabilities and Dalit children. The Safe Schools project uses a disaster risk reduction approach to improve access to education in the heavily earthquake affected Sindhuli district. Both projects contribute to the overall education and safe schools indicators of the Plan Norway consolidated results framework for the 2016-2019 Norad framework agreement. 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. The project also assesses project achievements, effectiveness and efficiency. Methodology The evaluation was carried out using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The tools applied were survey, focus group discussions, interviews and observations. Secondary documents such as periodic reports were reviewed. Designed questionnaires were used for the quantitative survey with the help of mobile application. The study team visited five districts among the project area that included Sindhuli, Baglung, Parbat, Jumla and Bardiya for data collection. From these five districts, the study team surveyed 35 schools, 400 Households and 400 children. Key findings The evaluation finds the project relevant to the present context in Nepal. The inclusion of the children in the schools with infrastructure support and improvement of learning environments is quite significant. The evaluation suggests that the project continue with its implementation modality with minor modifications. With the present changed context (new constitution and federal structure) in Nepal, there are several uncertainties on the institutionalization of the outcomes achieved by the project. In several cases, responsibilities has moved from one government entity to another. Government representative themselves are often confused with their own roles and responsibilities, and the old contact and structures that the project has worked with no longer exist within the new federal structure. Improved physical infrastructures in schools and educational assistance provided to the Dalit and students with disabilities in the form of scholarships, uniforms, text books etc. has created motivated school enrollment of Dalit children and children with disabilities. Out of 35 schools, 33 were reported to practice disability inclusion: A total of 344 children were enrolled at the time of survey in those schools. The evaluation report states that general student enrollment has increased due to Plan’s support in the project districts. However, only 66,2 % of the students in the 35 schools were reported to have passed their final exam in their grade. As stated in the evaluation report, this revealed that though the project is supporting for quality education, the schools need effective pedagogical support for quality teaching. In terms of efficiency, it was found that the budget in general was well used by the partner organizations in delivering necessary orientations, training, forming clubs or networks and executing extra-curricular activities in the targeted schools as well as communities. Recommendations The evaluation suggests the project should strengthen efforts to creating longer term impact while conducting activities. More coordination is needed for the sustainability of the project and the project needs to share its exit strategy with the beneficiaries and government stakeholders before the project ends. Regular information sharing with the local government and other stakeholders by Plan is required for better ownership. The project including implementing partners needs to identify the relevant responsible entities and focal person within local government in the new federal structure, and coordinate with them for the project implementation. They should also involve these local government (rural municipality) representatives in project monitoring and share the lessons learned and challenges so that there will be better ownership from the rural municipalities. In Sindhuli, the evaluation suggest support to schools should be expanded from the present disaster risk reduction and school reconstruction project to also include quality education support, such as support for pedagogical training for teachers. The evaluation suggest a full time monitoring officer should to be hired to monitor the activities in the field and document the challenges and lesson learned on a regular basis. This will help the timely completion of the activities in a systematic manner. Though the project has created some level of awareness on inclusive education, it’s not adequate. More advocacy and awareness campaign is needed for changing people’s attitude and behavior towards inclusion. Local NGOs need to be involved for advocating the message. In general, rather than ticking the box, the project needs to focus on creating longer term impact. More coordination is needed for the sustainability of the project and the project needs to share its exit strategy with the beneficiaries and government stakeholders before the project ends. Comments from the organisation Findings and recommendations of this mid-term review is helpful to draw lessons for improvement during the project implementation. Based on the mid-term review report, the project team formulated an action plan with concrete follow up actions for each of the evaluation recommendations. According to the MTR report (pp.13), “only 66,2 % of the students in the 35 schools were reported to have passed their final exam in their grade”. Plan questions the accuracy of these data. Plan collected data from the same 35 schools in November and December 2018 and found a pass rate of 92,35 %. According to data collected by Plan as part of the Norad annual report for 2017, 86% of students in the 208 Norad projects schools passed their grade in 2017.