The Ministry of General Education (MoGE) in Zambia has recently strengthened its approach to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) thanks to support provided by the Zambia Education Sector Support Technical Assistance (ZESSTA) facility, which is funded by the Global Partnership for Education and UK aid delivered by the British Council
ZESSTA directly responded to a need identified by the ministry and worked to develop a sustainable response to strengthen the capacity of the ministry and use M&E as an instrument for learning and accountability.
The challenge: recognizing the capacity issue
Many MoGE staff had become concerned about the lack of systematic capacity strengthening in M&E in the ministry over the last 5 to 10 years. Also, a perception had grown in some quarters that M&E was solely the responsibility of the Directorate of Planning and Information (DPI), which led to a reduction in the use of M&E as a critical tool for learning and accountability at all levels of MoGE.
More recently, external pressure for more accurate and timely information to support performance management and national development reporting has also led to a growing recognition across the ministry that improved M&E systems and skills are required at all levels.
The DPI approached ZESSTA for technical assistance in the design and implementation of an M&E capacity building program to address these challenges.
- Identifying the best service provider and enhancing its offer
- Developing a relevant and multi-level program
- Tracking impact
To meet the identified challenges, ZESSTA worked with MoGE’s DPI to plan a cost effective, sustainable and best practice approach to capacity development in M&E for MoGE staff at national, provincial and district levels. To ensure sustainability of support in the future, the University of Zambia Department of Population Studies (UNZA-DPS) was contracted to design and facilitate the training program.
With a long track record of providing M&E training (mainly in the health sector), UNZA is the acknowledged market leader in Zambia and its course offering has definite ‘brand appeal’. However, it had little experience of M&E capacity-building in the education sector. The DPI and ZESSTA worked with UNZA-DPS to design and carry out a training needs analysis of MoGE HQ staff. The analysis used a questionnaire and interviews to gather detailed information about the type of M&E activities carried out and the perceived training needs according to the position held by the respondents. It found that 67% of respondents had no previous training in M&E.
Following the analysis, the training programme was developed in a workshop setting facilitated by DPI and attended by staff from MoGE, M&E facilitators from the university and ZESSTA’s National M&E Adviser. This was to further ensure the relevance of the course content to the needs of the education sector and specifically MoGE’s HQ staff.
UNZA-DPS used the inputs from this workshop to develop a comprehensive suite of tailored training materials, including a stand-alone Course Reader to be used as a reference by participants both during and after their training. To date, six training programs have taken place; two with staff from HQ and four with mainly district and provincial staff.
A tracer study is carried out approximately six months after each course. This helps identify the effectiveness of the training programs as well as the institutional challenges which may prevent staff from implementing what they have learned.
The initiative was found to have benefited both the MoGE staff who participated in the training and the facilitators from UNZA-DPS who delivered it.
"The best practice approach to course development that ZESSTA required us to use has not only strengthened the capacity of MoGE staff, it has also enabled us to be a more effective and responsive provider of M&E training for the education sector. Understanding the importance of a participatory approach to course development has also enhanced our capacity to design tailored training for other government sectors," said Dr Musonda Lemba, the head of UNZA-DPS.
The UNZA team also valued the development of the Course Reader and have approached MoGE with a proposal for a joint publication.
The results of the tracer study for MoGE HQ staff have been very positive. It found that:
- all participants would recommend the course to colleagues in the education sector;
- the skills and competencies they developed in the training are relevant to their work and they have consulted the training materials after attending the course;
- almost all participants have had the opportunity to discuss the course with colleagues.
Learn more about GPE’s work in Zambia