Mid-term Evaluation of Community Integrated Education Program (CIEP)

About the publication

  • Published: 2013
  • Series: --
  • Type: NGO reviews
  • Carried out by: Kirsten S. Natvig, Mulbah S. Jackollie, Jonathan Kaipay, Emma Okai Adolphus Dupley, Eric O. Vah, Robert Banda, Thompson Mensah, James Tarpue, Bokah Barseegiah, Isaiah P. Jludo, J. Aloysius Gbadyuway
  • Commissioned by: Misjonsalliansen (Mission Alliance)
  • Country: Liberia
  • Theme: Education and research
  • Pages: --
  • Serial number: --
  • ISBN: --
  • ISSN: --
  • Organization: Misjonsalliansen (Mission Alliance)
  • Local partner: United Methodist Church, Liberia
  • Project number: QZA-12/0763-136
NB! The publication is ONLY available online and can not be ordered on paper.

The Department of Community Services (DCS) of the United Methodist Church of Liberia (UMC) in partnership with the Mission Alliance Norway is implementing the Community Integrated Education Program (CIEP) in seven rural towns in Liberia in three counties. The program consists of constructing schools, teachers’ quarters and playgrounds. In addition, there is a large community-strengthening component consisting of awareness raising within various areas, and training of local Project Committee members, members of the Parents, Teachers, Students Associations (PTSA) and leaders of students’ clubs. To secure local ownership of the project, there is a built-in demand for local contribution including provision of land, local material and volunteer labour. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between the United Methodist Church and the Ministry of Education (MOE) where the Ministry assumes full responsibility of all the schools after five years. A cash-crop farm will be established in each community under the program to provide a maintenance fund for the schools for the future.

The main purpose of the evaluation is to evaluate the model of community integrated education approach and the structures for program implementation to find out if the program is on track to achieve the program plans, and assess potential necessary adjustments/revisions to achieve the long-term goal of improving the school situation in the program implementation areas. An additional aim of the evaluation is to use it as a learning opportunity for DCS and communities involved, in order to enhance their understanding and participation in the project.

The mid-term evaluation was organized as a participatory evaluation with three participants from the implementing organization and one person from each of the seven project sites plus two external evaluators. This team developed evaluation instruments together, and carried out the seven project site visits together conducting interviews and observation methods. All information gathered was shared and validated on a daily basis within the team. At the end, the findings and recommendations were presented to invited stakeholders from the Methodist Church, the Ministry of Education and other relevant representatives from the authorities.

Key findings:
The Community Integrated Education Program is a highly relevant intervention in today’s rural Liberia. DCS is pragmatic and dynamic, with a great capacity to adapt to changing circumstances and solve upcoming challenging as they appear. DCS is highly aware of the potential risks in the implementation of the program, and they are constantly ensuring that measures are put in place to mitigate these risks. On the other hand, they have a tendency to be donor driven in terms of budget performance which has in some places made the program start up with constructions and agricultural investments before the communities have been ready.

The permanent presence of the project in the communities is secured through a democratically elected project committee that works on volunteer basis as the liaison structure between DCS and the community. It is a real dilemma that the members of this project committee are expected to work long hours and handle large sums of money without receiving any compensation. In addition, that the project committees are non-permanent structures is creating uncertainty and confusion within all communities as to the future management and sustainability of the project.

All the local committees have done a tremendous job encouraging and mobilizing their communities and advocating with local leaders and companies to help them with local contributions. The large local contribution makes the program very cost-efficient. However, as time goes by, it seems that the demand for the local contribution is beyond the capacity of the communities, creating a feeling of failure within the communities.

The degree of local ownership varies from community to community. Community members expressed strong interest in their agriculture projects. However, the investment made for the agricultural farms are at a risk due to lack of local management structures, technical knowhow and funds for maintenance of the farms. In addition, the investments made for the schools might be at risk if the MOU does not adhere to its maintenance commitment.

The construction work is going on well. The CIEP schools are aligned with the new national school standards, and the design includes ramps for physically challenge students. The new teachers’ quarters that are being put up is highly needed to attract qualified teachers to teach in rural areas.

The Parents, Teachers, Students Associations (PTSAs) that are established in the seven
communities are functional. There is clear evidence that they have received training and
have gained skills that they employ in their internal organizations. School Clubs are in
existence, but many of them do not function properly.

The financial management in project implementation is well grounded on established
policies and procedures that promote accountability and transparency. The project leaders
have been effectively empowered and equipped to deal with project related financial issues.

The most important issue as the evaluation team sees it is for CIEP to develop an implementation model that secures the investments made for the future. There is a need to establish solid, permanent management structures in the communities to start building local ownership and develop responsibility for the agricultural farms. A phase-out strategy should be developed based on sustainability criteria rather than time. When DCS starts their phase-out process in each community, it is recommended that they no longer make any physical investments, but rather work to strengthen the local communities´ ability to solve their own challenges and source their own resources.

If DCS expands CIEP to new communities, the project committee should be organized
as a subcommittee under the permanent structure of the PTSA. Since sustainability is tied to community ownership, DCS should strengthen the PTSAs to become the overall responsible body for the project. DCS should look into the dilemma of its structure at the community level being purely voluntary without compensation. In the process of future management of the project, it will be important to redesign a leadership strategy that will promote sustainable leadership structures with transparent processes.

DCS must keep engaged with authorities of the Ministry of Education at the highest
technical level regarding the fulfilment of their commitments. DCS should support establishment of the school farms both materially and with technical skills to get the farms properly started once solid management structures are in place.

Training should preferably be provided to permanent structures that have built-in systems of passing on knowledge from one generation of duty-bearers to the next. DCS must make sure that adequate technical expertise and inputs are available to manage the farms.
The program has a strong gender component built into it that does not seem to have been given enough attention in the implementation. Both DCS and the Ministry of Education should work hard to put female students’ gender challenges on the agenda.

Provided the recommendations from this participatory evaluation are being followed up in a timely manner to secure the sustainability of the investments made, it is recommended that the program continues, and eventually expands.

Comments from the organisation, if any:
The Mission Alliance is very satisfied with the process around this evaluation. The observations and recommendations resonate well with us. The participatory approach has created great ownership with project staff and project committees in the communities to the analysis and the recommendations. The Mission Alliance visited the project three months after the evaluation and we organized a workshop with the project staff and representatives from the different communities. We could see that several changes were already being implemented and there were strategies for following up the recommendations. The people who participated in the evaluation expressed a clear sense of having attained new information and understanding about the project and their own roles in it.

Published 17.10.2014
Last updated 16.02.2015