Wajir, Kenya, 2013. Using the mobile phone platform to send information about a school's self-assessed Child Friendly School score. Photo Credit: Andrew Cunningham.
Wajir, Kenya, 2013. Using the mobile phone platform to send information about a school’s self-assessed Child Friendly School score. Photo Credit: Andrew Cunningham.

In August 2013 Global Innovations conducted a mapping survey in the Eastern and Southern African Region to identify Innovation projects. Since joining the Eastern and Southern African Regional Office in September 2013, I have been collecting the project information and analyzing the projects that were identified.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing a few of the projects that emerged from the mapping exercise. The projects are presented with a brief background, the problem being addressed, the solution that was developed, the current scale of the project, and some takeaways based on initial analysis.

The first project to be presented in this mini-series is from the Education Programme Section in the Kenya Country Office.

Measuring Quality Education and Child Friendly Schools

Background: One of the primary objectives of the Education Programme Section is to increase access to quality education for children across Kenya. To help accomplish this goal, the Programme Section works with the Child Friendly School (CFS) framework to guide holistic inter-sectoral approaches to education quality and equity. The CFS framework has been highly influential in Programme Section planning. However, challenges remain around the monitoring of CFS standards in schools since traditional paper based analysis is costly and time consuming, resulting in incomplete or non-existent analysis. For more information on the CFS framework please click here.

Project Purpose: The project aims to measure education quality and CFS indicators to inform UNICEF Education programme planning at the school, district, and national levels to help ensure equitable access and education that focuses on quality learning outcomes.

Project Solution: The Kenyan Country Office (KCO) leveraged UNICEF’s implementing partners’ mobile phones as a means to digitize data collection methods and real-time monitoring and evaluation. KCO partnered with Echomobile.org and ENEZA Education to design and implement a user-friendly, online interface from which SMS on both basic and Android phones and/or web-based (USSD) survey questions can be designed, disseminated, collected and analysed in an integrated and accessible information management system across all Kenyan counties. Furthermore, the online dashboard knowledge management system hosted by Echomobile creates a data feedback loop with UNICEF, the Ministry of Education, KEPSHA officials and head teachers, pupils, parents and teachers on the ground about not only their average Child Friendly School score, but how their CFS score compares and contrasts to other head teachers in the district, county and national levels.

KENYA, 2011. Issack Billow Kusow (standing) teaches class in a clearing at the centre of a thicket, at Habajod Mobile School in a nomadic settlement near Bura Village in Fafi District, in North Eastern Province. Mr. Kusow is the lone teacher at the school, which serves 85 students in one class. © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1268/CHRISTINE NESBITT
KENYA, 2011. Issack Billow Kusow (standing) teaches class in a clearing at the centre of a thicket, at Habajod Mobile School in a nomadic settlement near Bura Village in Fafi District, in North Eastern Province. Mr. Kusow is the lone teacher at the school, which serves 85 students in one class. © UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1268/CHRISTINE NESBITT

The Kenya Primary School Head Teachers Association (KEPSHA) and Kenyan Secondary School Head Teachers Association (KSSHA), KCO, and partners decided to measure the quality of education in two areas:

  1. School self-assessment of CFS indicators to inform school improvement planning at school, district and national levels.
  2. The impact of student councils in relationship to incidents of school strikes across secondary schools.
  3. School emergency readiness during the 2013 Kenyan election period.

Project Scale and Updates: UNICEF KCO has generated a live, interactive database of over 13,800 head teacher contacts, enabling UNICEF and the Ministry of Education to collect over 250,000 SMS-based pieces of data about quality education (Disaster Risk Reduction, enrollment, CFS, student councils, health, and WASH). As a result, UNICEF has provided the Ministry of Education with the ability to track 13,800 school profiles of their needs, what interventions have been applied to the schools (and by whom), and what level of impact has there been because of these interventions.

Takeaways:

  • KCO developed a strong partnership with the Ministry of Education, KEPSHA, and KSSHA to be the administrators for the system. Partnering with existing implementing partners allowed for more flexibility and efficiency in designing the project.
  • KCO was determined not to allow SMS technology to drive its programming, but instead sought to ensure that programming drove the use of SMS technology.
  • Partner with software providers that are locally based and willing to amend the product as per partner requests in a timely, efficient manner.
  • Think about how the final product (presentation and interactive use of the data by high-level policy makers) informs backward product design. Don’t get distracted by what technology can do, but think about what policy decision-making needs the technology to do.

Contact information:

Andrew Cunningham, andy.j.cunningham(at)gmail.com (UNICEF Kenya Education)
Elias Noor, ejnoor(at)unicef.org (UNICEF Kenya Education)

Kimanzi Muthengi, kmuthengi(at)unicef.org (UNICEF Kenya Education)
Minu Limbu, mlimbu(at)unicef.org (UNICEF Kenya Emergency)

Georgia Hill

T4D Consultant, Regional ICT Office, Nairobi
ghill(at)unicef.org

See also:

Introduction to the Eastern & Southern Africa Regional Office

Workshop on T4D strives to integrate technology into UNICEF programs

UNICEF study: Digital tools provide Kenyan youth with opportunities to explore their identities

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