GPE launches a new mechanism to support monitoring, evaluation and learning in partner countries

GPE is working with four Eastern Caribbean islands to pilot a new approach to improve capacity to monitor, evaluate and learn in the education sector. Eventually, the countries aim for a data management system that is automated, integrated and with real-time data, allowing for better decision-making.

October 20, 2022 by Talia Miranda, GPE Secretariat, Sissy Helguero, Global Partnership for Education Secretariat, Rudraksh Mitra, GPE Secretariat, and Rodolfo Andres Scannone Chavez, GPE Secretariat
5 minutes read
A teacher talking during a science and math class at the Mon Dudon Primary School in Saint Lucia, April 2019.
A teacher talking during a science and math class at the Mon Dudon Primary School in Saint Lucia, April 2019.
Credit: Marcellus Albertin

How do we know what drives learning in schools that perform well? How can we tailor support for young girls and boys who are at risk of dropping out? How do we allocate limited resources efficiently? These are some of the questions that many GPE partner countries have and that GPE is helping them to answer.

Systemic approach to understand the problem

A common challenge among GPE partner countries in improving learning is access to real time data and evidence to inform decision-making such as resource allocation, or teacher training needs. Driven by this need to help countries improve learning, GPE is piloting a new partnership approach to bring direct capacity building and technical assistance around monitoring, evaluation and learning of the education sector.

The Eastern Caribbean islands of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, GPE partner countries, have made great strides over the years to produce quality education data at national and regional levels.

For example, the annual school census collects data in this region through a standardized questionnaire that harmonizes education data in the 9 Member States of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The data is then published in a national statistical digest and compiled into a regional digest.

There is also a community of practice for statisticians in the 9 Member States that meets annually to exchange best practices and access additional support.

While a range of data is collected on student, teacher, and school dimensions through the school census, the data unfortunately is static and is only available at the centralized level. This means that the data can only be accessed through the national statistical digest once it is published thus limiting the ways in which it can be used.

Furthermore, data collected by the school census is not integrated with other datasets that is available at the central or district levels, as there are no unique identifiers for students, teachers, or schools to link the information. This inability to share data across units of the ministry and levels of the education system (central-district-schools), also means that efforts are being duplicated to collect the same data, thus overburdening schools and central units who already have a limited bandwidth.

Though all Member States are at different stages of developing their monitoring and evaluation (MEL) systems for their education systems, ministries envision moving to a data management system that is automated, integrated, with real-time data that can be easily accessed by the various users that need it for different purposes such as facilitating planning, management, service delivery and ultimately to improve equity and learning for all students easily.

The GPE-supported program known as the OECS Program for Educational Advancement and Relevant Learning (PEARL), implemented by the OECS Commission, is a step in this direction.

A key component of the program is to strengthen institutional capacity to implement a monitoring, evaluation, reporting, and learning (MERL) system.

Working alongside these efforts, the OECS and GPE partner countries have also requested additional support through a new GPE mechanism for capacity support called strategic capabilities.

On-demand support tailored to system needs

Strategic capabilities are part of the GPE’s approach to support education systems transformation. This is a new partnership mechanism that aims to connect partner countries with organizations that can deliver targeted technical assistance and reinforce national capacity to address major system bottlenecks.

Strategic capabilities can address complex education system challenges faced by multiple countries (such as education system monitoring, evaluation, and learning), as well as cross-sectoral challenges (such as mainstreaming climate change resilience into education systems).

Strategic capabilities partners work directly with governments in response to national demands, and as a complement to other GPE support such as country grants.

In the Eastern Caribbean, this new strategic capability approach will provide advisory services and technical assistance for monitoring, evaluation and learning at the regional (OECS Commission) and national levels (in Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines).

This approach allows capacity support to strengthen the regional MEL system while also responding to the needs of each partner country. For example, some the proposed activities could include support for conducting a needs assessment, developing and operationalizing plans for EMIS systems, automating the generation of monitoring reports, and integrating datasets generated by existing data collection processes with clear feedback loops for its different users.

The partnership will complement the existing PEARL program, as additional support for its objective to reinforce regional monitoring, evaluation, reporting, and learning.

During a recent GPE Secretariat mission to scope the specific MEL needs in the region, ministries highlighted the urgency to advance in this area.

“We cannot risk losing our education data to floods or a volcanic eruption,” stressed one ministry official seeking assistance to digitize education records currently stored in boxes.

GPE meeting with MoEs from Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
GPE meeting with MoEs from Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

In other islands, ministries are looking for support to integrate their databases and make data usable and accessible for decision-making.

“It is complex to track the progress of a student over time and tailor specific support for their success” – mentioned another official.

The official further noted that most of the support they have received from partners to date has been project-based with MEL support focused primarily around a specific program.

Having this additional on-demand approach that focuses on strengthening system-wide capacity vs. a program could be transformational because it will enable them to build capacities around their existing needs and operations.

This initial phase of strategic capability support for MEL is currently being piloted in the Eastern Caribbean region but may become available to other GPE partner countries as additional resources are approved by the Board to further scale this support to address the bottlenecks that hinder the provision of quality education to all.

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