Four CPDMA taskforce countries (Liberia, Rwanda, South Africa and Ethiopia) have been working together since early 2019 to map out their ECE data systems and develop plans to use data to improve outcomes for children.

Liberia

 We learned that delivering evidence-based interventions for early childhood care and development are very important. That is, creating an elaborate integrated ECD data collection and management mechanism at the school level that feeds into sub-national and national systems for planning and decision-making purposes.

-Dr. Cecelia Cassell, Dean, Teachers’ College, University of Liberia and Focal Point of CPDMA

 Liberia joined the CPDMA taskforce to gather information on the prospects, challenges, and recommendations to improve teacher quality through using data.

Who is the Liberia team?

The Ministry of Education of Liberia appointed Dr. Cecelia Cassell (Dean, Teachers’ College, University of Liberia) as the Focal Point of the CPDMA Liberia Taskforce and nominated Mr. Gabriel Nelson (Director, Division of Early Childhood, Ministry of Education) to represent the Ministry. Other taskforce representatives include Ms. Jebbeh Gray (Chairperson, Early Childhood Education, Instructor at University of Liberia), Mr. Alphonso Wright (Child Development Practitioner, University of Liberia), Ms. Kebeh Kennedy (Research Officer, Division of EMIS, Bureau of Planning Research and Development, Ministry of Education), and Ms. Madia Mensah (Executive Director for Curriculum Development and Textbooks Research, Ministry of Education).

 With leadership from Dr. Cassell, the team met internally and with the ECD Measure Team on a regular basis in 2019 to discuss data and measurement issues in the country.

 What did the team learn and accomplish?

The team completed the CPDMA diagnostic toolkit to define the purposes of pre-primary data in Rwanda, identify existing data and data gaps, and align university and ministry priorities for how data can improve ECE quality in Liberia. This included a stocktaking exercise, which the team noted helped them identify inefficiencies in the ECE system related to overage children, feeding programs, learning outcomes and quality. They also confirmed that there is no approved tool to identify instructional quality in ECE level in Liberia.  

The exercise helped the team identify gaps in ECD data, including on ECE teacher qualification and training, quality of instruction, and children’s learning outcomes. Team members reported garnering some political will for ECD measurement as a result of being part of the CPDMA. They are currently discussing with key partners the prospect of developing a school-based record management and data collection system (either embedded in the EMIS or running parallel) and the creation of real time information dashboard for integrated ECD services. The team noted that the site visits in Rwanda were valuable to their future planning as they were able to observe classrooms with a variety of materials, toys, and space, where children had the opportunity to make their own choices and teachers helped them to take ownership of their learning.

What do they plan to do next?

The taskforce team identified changing classroom instruction as the area where there is highest leverage for change in behavior due to ECE data. Liberia has a new pre-primary curriculum, which emphasizes play-based and child-centered methods but is yet to be rolled-out in teacher training institutions.

After the diagnostic exercise and in-country discussions, as well as a productive team visit to the Kigali CPDMA conference, the Liberia team proposed developing a quality monitoring tool, information is shared with ECE programs to support quality improvements through targeted supports. District education officers would receive training on the quality rubric and ECE in general and administer the tools as part of their ongoing duties.  After administering the quality tool, a report with the results and recommendations for supports for the teacher and ways to improve quality would be provided. The principal would then be responsible for meeting with the teacher, reviewing the findings and making a plan for support and improvement.  There is particular interest and focus on supporting teachers’ development and use of local materials. In addition, there is a possibility that data from the rubric could be integrated into the existing EMIS. At the district or county level, aggregate data would be used to determine needs across groups of teachers and targeted training or support for these areas would be implemented. The team noted they will need financial, human, and technical resources, as well as continued political will, to implement this plan.

South Africa

 Having government, funders and NGOs put their heads together on some of the challenges the country is facing in ECD helped us better understand problems from multiple perspectives, so that proposed solutions were better contextualized. The more we as stakeholders are on the same page, the better we can leverage our resources towards common goals.

-The South Africa CPDMA taskforce team

The South Africa taskforce team noted that there is currently political will in South Africa for setting up ECD systems. Participating in the taskforce assisted the Department of Basic Education (DBE), USAID and others in communicating the importance of good data systems to a broader group of stakeholders.

 Who is the South Africa team?

In February 2019, Ms. Janeli Kotze (Deputy Director: Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation, Department of Basic Education) was appointed the focal point of the CPDMA Taskforce in South Africa.

In November, a broader team joined the taskforce, including Ms. Vuyelwa Ntuli (Department of Basic Education), Mr. Nicholas Dowdall (Department of Basic Education), Mr. Engenas Senona (Department of Basic Education), Ms. Lyndsey Petro (Innovation Edge), Ms. Phumelele Tloubatla Gauteng Department of Education), Ms. Palesa Thulo (Northern Cape Department of Education), and Ms. Carien Vorster (USAID South Africa). Most of the stakeholders in the group had worked together previously. USAID team members noted this was a great opportunity to meet stakeholders in ECD and to learn from their considerable experience and unique perspectives.

 What did they learn and accomplish?

The taskforce completed the CPDMA Diagnostic Toolkit, which helped outline key data and measurement priority areas. Defining priority areas has been especially important as the Department of Basic Education is in the process of absorbing national ECD responsibilities from the Department of Social Development. The team noted that the diagnostic toolkit provided a useful framework to identify the current gaps in the data on ECD, as well as to consider the various users and their needs as they plan to improve the data systems.

Participants in the Kigali meeting noted that South Africa can possibly learn from Rwanda in their effort to strengthen interdepartmental coordination. The coordination mechanisms in place in Rwanda to work across seven different ministries on improving Early Childhood outcomes was of particular interest, especially the common dashboard and regular meetings to report on progress toward targets.

 What do they plan to do next?

South Africa is planning to map ECD services through a new ECD audit, with the intention of eventually creating an integrated data system that will have an emphasis on data-driven decision making. This will be accomplished through two activities:

  1. EMIS for ECD: This initiative will aim to collect only the most necessary data from all Early Learning Programmes in South Africa. Data collection is expected to begin in August 2020.
  2. Early Years Index: This will entail assessing children in a nationally representative sample of Early Learning Programmes in August 2020 and administering a contextual questionnaire in the programs in March 2020. The contextual questionnaires will gather more in-depth information on the current conditions of the resources and infrastructure available, as well as look at the quality of teaching and stimulation happening in these programs.

Participation in the CPDMA helped the South Africa team become more aware of the available tools for which they can draw for the audit. Both activities are fully funded by donor organizations and there is political buy in. Service providers will be contracted to assist with the data collection for both activities, and the ELOM team will assist with the analysis of the child assessment data. The Department will be responsible for analyzing the contextual questionnaire information and for feeding the Census data into the EMIS system. Technical assistance with the aspects is expected to be required.

Rwanda

 It was a wonderful process to work with our government partners to establish…shared priorities; I expect that this process and understanding will facilitate future work.

– Emily Routté, Senior Education Specialist, USAID Rwanda

 The Rwanda taskforce team has been meeting together since April 2019 to discuss data and measurement issues in Rwanda. Participation in the consortium has spurred the taskforce to map currently available data on young children in Rwanda, including data on quality of pre-primary programs, child development and learning outcomes, health and nutrition, as well as current efforts to use data related to ECD in Rwanda.

Who is the Rwanda team?

The Ministry of Education of Rwanda appointed Ms. Marie Therese Uwizeyeyezu (Primary and Pre-primary Specialist, Ministry of Education) to serve as the Focal Point of the CPDMA Rwanda Taskforce. Ms. Uwizeyeyezu works closely with other taskforce members, including Immaculee Kayitare (School Readiness Specialist, National ECD Program), Mr. Jean Paul Nyandwi (National Early Childhood Development Program), Dr. Alphonse Uworwabayeho (Senior Lecturer, University of Rwanda), Mr. Firmin Dusengumuremyi (ECE Officer, UNICEF Rwanda), Ms. Egidia Umutesi (Education Technical Program Manager, World Vision), and Ms. Emily Routté (Senior Education Specialist, USAID Rwanda).

What did they learn and accomplish?

USAID worked collaboratively with representatives of the main government entities involved with ECD to map existing data, identify gaps, and brainstorm and prioritize research questions. Participants said this was helpful both to better understand the pre-primary landscape, and to strengthen relationships among key in-country partners on the taskforce. The Rwanda taskforce analyzed this mapping and identified options to build insight and capacity for data-driven early childhood systems.

The Rwanda team found CPDMA useful for sharing experiences, resources and tools across countries. They found the MELQO child assessment tool used in Ethiopia, the Brief Early Evaluation of Quality (BEQI) observation tool used during the site visits, the ECD franchise model in South Africa, and the application of a data dashboard in Ghana especially applicable to Rwanda. In addition, they found it helpful to share research ideas with the academic partners in the consortium and benefitted from their perspectives of current research and gaps. Rwanda’s new draft Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) emphasizes a cross-sectoral approach, so the team found the discussions about how pre-primary links with ECD, health, nutrition and social protection timely.

What do they plan to do next?

As a result of the diagnostic activities and extended discussions at the CPDMA Taskforce conference in Kigali in November, the team has developed an action plan. This includes strategies to institutionalize an assessment of child development and learning before Primary 1, institutionalize collection of data on pre-primary quality, and better use available (and new) data for decision-making. The team noted that while the process of bringing together the various agencies was important, there is not an immediate plan to implement the priorities because there is not an immediate source of funding.

Ethiopia

 Who is the Ethiopia taskforce team?

Ms. Frehiwot Wubishet (USAID Ethiopia) serves as the focal point of the CPDMA Taskforce in Ethiopia. She meets with a multi-disciplinary taskforce team in Ethiopia, which includes Mr. Yohannes Wagasso (Director, School Improvement Program, Ministry of Education), Dr. Fantahun Admas (Addis Ababa University), Dr. Menelik Desta (Executive Director, School Readiness Initiative), Fitsum Asfaw (Early Years Fellow, World Bank), Ms. Maekelech Gidey (UNICEF), Ms. Brukty Tigabu (Whiz Kids Workshop), Mr. Asefa Leta Emana (National Educational Assessment and Examinations Agency), Mr. Yilikal Wondimeneh (National Educational Assessment and Examinations Agency).

What did they learn and accomplish?

The Ethiopia taskforce has been meeting since February 2019 to discuss data and measurement issues in Ethiopia. The team completed the CPDMA diagnostic toolkit to prioritize key questions that data in Ethiopia can answer, summarizing existing data sources, and start to identify how data can inform the Ministry’s new ECD Policy Framework.

What do they plan to do next?

The taskforce team continues to work together to plan next steps to support government and partner efforts. The taskforce team is interested in using existing data will build on the action planning taking place across the sector and will propose an integrated ECD model of different sectors and will then use contextualized tools to track progress within this system for children up to age 5.