The review found that programs were relevant and achieved most of their objectives, however it also highlights challenges in improving and measuring learning outcomes and achieving program objectives in an efficient manner.
These findings reaffirm that a robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) mechanism is fundamental to evidence-based program management, learning from and course-correcting implementation and to ensuring a program achieves expected results by the time it closes.
Identifying key facets of good M&E design and establishing more robust standards for assessing M&E aspects in program documents will help partner countries identify appropriate measurements, indicators and targets.
Procurement of goods and services (e.g., to construct classrooms, to distribute textbooks) was and has always been the biggest barrier to program implementation. Closed grants facing procurement problems typically provided capacity building support to overcome delays, suggesting the need for a more rigorous assessment of procurement capacity and arrangement in the preparation stage.
Alternatively, the most efficient way of procuring goods and services in a partner country may be sought while investing in enhancement in procurement capacity in the long term. It’s also important to ensure lessons learned from a closed grant are used in the design of a subsequent grant in the same country, particularly to prevent the same implementation challenges.
Finally, the review also reflects on the importance of having a more holistic approach when assessing program value for money.
Such an approach should consider the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of interventions chosen, for example, by examining: whether there’s evidence of the intervention’s effectiveness or cost-effectiveness in improving outcomes in similar country settings; to what extent inputs in the chosen intervention are obtained at least cost; and how efficiently the interventions are implemented.