Improving primary education: Assessing the impact of the Education Quality Improvement Programme in Tanzania (Equip-T)
This evaluation project will measure the impact of DFID’s education quality improvement programme in Tanzania (EQUIP-T) on pupil learning and intermediate outcomes including teacher capacity and school leadership and management. Despite recent expansions in primary school enrolment, low education quality, weak learning outcomes and sustained gender inequalities remain key challenges in Tanzania’s education system. EQUIP-T is a multi-year education programme funded by DFID with the aim of improving pupil learning outcomes and education quality -especially for girls - by developing a school improvement approach for potential national scale-up. We are conducting an independent, mixed-methods impact evaluation to assess the performance of EQUIP-T and its contribution to selected education outcomes and outputs that it will seek to influence. The quantitative component of the evaluation includes a quasi-experimental survey design based on a sample of 200 schools and 3000 pupils. The team has developed new survey instruments including early grade reading and math assessments (EGRA, EGMA) and Tanzania’s first teacher development needs assessment (TDNA), and will use Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) techniques to improve data quality and make results available faster. The qualitative research component includes key informant interviews and focus group discussions that will be conducted at national, district, school and community levels to assess the contributions of different EQUIP-T components to selected outputs and outcomes of interest and to help understand the workings of the EQUIP-T programme. The evaluation also includes a fiscal affordability study to assess the feasibility of rolling-out EQUIP-T across more districts in Tanzania. The evidence provided by this project will improve accountability and promote learning in the education sector. In the longer term, it will also contribute to the international debate on school improvement programmes and their potential impact on pupil learning.
Access to primary education has improved significantly in Tanzania over the last decade but low education quality, gender inequalities and weak pupil learning outcomes remain significant challenges – especially in rural areas. These challenges are compounded by weak capacity within the country’s decentralized education system as well as limited availability and use of data for education decision making.
The DFID-funded EQUIP-T programme aims to improve the quality of primary education and learning outcomes by removing constraints and building capacity at various levels of the education system. The EQUIP-T programme consists of activities aimed at:
- Enhancing the professional capacity and performance of teachers;
- Improving school leadership and management skills;
- Strengthening systems that support the district and regional management of education;
- Increasing community participation and demand for; and accountability in education;
- and Strengthening the learning and dissemination of results.
The project will provide an independent evaluation of the EQUIP-T programme to promote accountability and gather evidence to help inform potential programme adjustments over time. In addition, the evaluation will support learning on school improvement programmes and pupil learning outcomes as well as assessing the fiscal affordability of extending the EQUIP-T programme to regions beyond those covered in the initial phase.
Our team conducted extensive consultations with a range of stakeholders including the Government of Tanzania, district officials, DFID, NGOs, and academic institutions to inform the design of the impact evaluation. The team has adopted a mixed-methods approach that will allow for triangulation of results and deeper insights into the potential impacts of EQUIP-T.
For the quantitative component, the evaluation will assess the impact of the EQUIP-T programme as a whole using a quasi-experimental approach. The sample will consist of 200 primary schools located in EQUIP-T and non-EQUIP districts and approximately 3,000 standard 3 pupils will be surveyed at the base- (2014), mid- (2016) and end-(2018) points of the survey. Working with national and international experts, the team has developed a range of survey instruments to measure key outputs, outcomes and impacts. These instruments include early grade reading and math assessments (EGRA, EGMA), teacher interviews, lesson observations and teacher development needs assessments (TDNAs) that will be administered through computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) techniques to improve data accuracy and make results available faster.
The qualitative research will assess the contributions of different EQUIP-T components to key outputs and outcomes and explore unanticipated findings from the quantitative research. For these purposes, focus group discussions and key informant interviews will be conducted with EQUIP-T staff, district and ward level officials, head teachers, teachers, pupils, school committee members and mothers in a purposive sample of regions, districts, schools and communities.
Specific activities undertaken by the team include:
- Designing the quantitative research component including the sampling strategy;
- Developing survey instruments for the quantitative survey;
- Designing the qualitative research component and discussion guides;
- Conducting the quantitative and qualitative fieldwork;
- Conducting a fiscal affordability study to assess overall and component costs of EQUIP-T;
- and Developing a communication strategy and disseminating findings to education stakeholders in Tanzania and beyond.
This project will provide evidence of the EQUIP-T programme’s impact on key education outputs and outcomes, including pupil learning outcomes. The use of survey instruments developed specifically for Tanzania including the first teacher development needs assessment (TDNA), will help fill knowledge gaps within the country’s education system.
This evidence will provide accountability of the EQUIP-T programme and allow for potential programme refinements over its lifetime. It will also help inform decisions on a potential expansion of EQUIP-T beyond 2018.
More broadly, by widely disseminating the findings, the project will contribute to the establishment of a larger, international evidence base on school improvement programmes and their potential impact on pupil learning.