In the early 21st century, the Government of Zambia (GOZ) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) recognized the vital role that education plays in youth development, poverty alleviation, and economic growth. In an effort to improve their education system, they took a number of steps to advance access for children across the country, including eliminating school fees. Despite these efforts, they found themselves constrained by funding issues, the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the general challenges of making primary education free. This is when the USAID/Zambia Education program evolved. From 2003 to 2009, the program grew exponentially both in scale and investment.

The primary role of USAID/Zambia was to collaborate with the Zambian MOE and provide support for the government’s efforts regarding increasing access, improving the quality of the learning environment, and enabling the MOE to promote their education sector agenda. In 2009, USAID contracted the DevTech team to conduct an independent assessment of the education program’s impact and to make recommendations related to strategy, programming options, and investments for the next five years.

DevTech’s monitoring and evaluation (M&E) experts spent six weeks in Zambia utilizing six complementary, interrelated forms of gathering information to conduct their assessment. These information gathering methods included individual and group interviews, focus group discussions, school visits, classroom observations, conversations with local citizens, meetings with MOE personnel, and the administration of anonymous questionnaires to individuals and groups of people involved with the program activities.

Our evaluation team conducted:

  • A summative evaluation of the three largest USAID-funded education programs.
  • A sectoral evaluation that assesses the synergies among projects for affecting overall program sub-sectors such as teacher training and information management systems.

The findings of the evaluations revealed:

  • There have been a number of positive developments resulting from USAID’s support in the education sector in Zambia. These positive developments include major education and enrollment gains, the development and distribution of high quality teacher’s manuals and learning materials, and heightened parent, guardian, and community participation in educational services.
  • Moving forward, the sustainability of USAID-funded efforts to support community schools will be dependent on the transition of the GRZ being able to assume full responsibility for these schools. Until that transition is complete, continued support for the volunteer efforts that keep these schools functioning is necessary to sustain the momentum of communities who may be beginning to show signs of fatigue.

DevTech promotes safe, inclusive, and effective learning environments by working with government leaders and international partners to broaden education and training opportunities for children, at-risk youth, and adults. We have proven experience designing, supporting, and evaluating major education, gender, and youth projects around the world. Our expertise in monitoring and evaluation intersects with our education, gender, and youth practice through our skilled technical evaluations, enabling us to handle the assessment of USAID/Zambia Education Program with efficiency and accuracy. To learn more about this project, see the full report, or learn more about DevTech’s capabilities, please visit the page for this project.