Evaluation of the quality education project

  • Stephens, David (PI)
  • Harber, C. (CoPI)

Project Details


Professor David Stephens from the University of Brighton collaborated with Professor Clive Harber of University of Birmingham and a team of African researchers on a four-country study of quality in education in Sub-Saharan Africa. They evaluated the work of the Quality Education Project (QEP), one of Save the Children Norway’s education programmes.

Save the Children Norway provided funding of £80,000 and the QEP was implemented from 2002 until 2009. It was an attempt to develop a model for addressing the serious quality problems pertaining to children's lack of opportunity for learning, which exist in many African countries. It also succeeded in building up capacity of a team of researchers working in those four countries.

Two of the challenges which the QEP needed to address were shifting the focus more towards learning outcomes as well as learning and teaching methods and the need to involve children more in decision-making about issues of quality.

Key strengths of the QEP model included its innovative nature, its focus on the quality of education in the classroom and the use of action research to change teacher identity and potentially, practice.

The research objectives were to:

> examine the establishment and operation of QEP, taking into consideration contextual and cultural influences, organisational set up, time frame and working methods applied during implementation
> determine an impact assessment, looking at reflective change, changes in perception, changes at classroom level and children's learning, impact outside the classroom and in the community and unintended results
> identify areas of improvement to achieve increased impact and cost-effectiveness
work out the potential for scaling up
> consider QEP as a model and analyse alternative scenarios and future strategies.

Key findings

This pilot scheme focused on training teachers and teacher educators to become reflective of their own teaching in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom. There were two main aims, namely the development of a model of change that could be adapted to varying national and local contexts; and the bridging of the gap between teacher change and an improvement in pupil learning outcomes.

Our research assessed the QEP as experienced at various levels of the education system in the four countries (Ethiopia, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe), specifically the teachers' college, the district office, in the school, and within the community.

The evaluation team concluded that QEP was a well-conceived, innovative and important programme, which had the potential to make a significant contribution to the quality of education in developing countries.

Findings were presented in a comprehensive report detailing recommendations for future design of QEP programmes, QEP training, the role of action research, implementation, management and leadership and sustainability and scaling up.

Professor Stephens’ four-country African research on the QEP was part of a wider Save the Children policy to promote more participatory ways of teaching and learning. This led to the adoption of these participatory approaches in the 300 project primary schools involving 1,000 teachers and some 120,000 children.

The evidence of improved learning provided by the research led to changes in the policies of Save the Children to promote participatory learning internationally.

As a result of the research, the special adviser to Save the Children, Norway confirmed that QEP is being spread to all teacher-training colleges in the Amhara region of Ethiopia (serving 20 million inhabitants) and reports that in 2012, 80 teacher training lecturers have been trained in the new methods in all 15 teacher training colleges.

Participatory Action Research as a method to evaluate learning and teaching approaches has been included since 2010 in the curriculum in all 14 of Zimbabwe’s teacher-training colleges, influencing 1,400 teacher trainees.

The research impacted upon Save the Children’s international policy development. At the 2009 meeting of Save the Children policymakers in Cambodia, it was reported in the national media that, the conference was used as a vehicle to present recommendations relating to this research project.

Stephens, D & Harber, C (2010) From Shouters to Supporters: Quality Education Project - Final Evaluation Report. Save the Children, Norway: Oslo
Effective start/end date1/12/0831/10/09


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