Sustaining educational development projects in developing countries : changing the form of evaluation
Achieving sustainable development is not an easy task. The international community has been attempting to address global issues such as climate change and poverty, while advancing opportunities for primary education. Setting up the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the internationally-agreed set of time binding goals in 2000, reaffirmed commitment by the international community to the issues in developing countries. Hence, the role of evaluation for Official Development Assistance (ODA) enterprises has become more important than ever particularly with limited funds, which in turn has put pressure on effective and efficient implementation of projects including their transparency and accountability. To date, however, monitoring and evaluating outcomes of aid projects during the project duration only have been the main endeavours of international aid agencies. Evaluations gave little attention to aspects of sustainability and educational impact of these projects. Indeed, sustainability of a project after the termination of such interventions was under scrutiny and as a result, there has been consideration of changing from outcome-focused evaluation led by international aid agencies to process evaluation conducted largely by local stakeholders. The study reviewed theoretical and practical issues surrounding the evaluation for educational reform projects, and explored, as a case study, the evaluation process employed by an Egyptian education reform project implemented by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). This study found that process evaluation is a potential alternative evaluation method for educational development projects since it is likely to be locally embedded, which may produce long-term sustainability. Further investigations into the appropriateness and potential of process evaluation need to be conducted to provide more guidance for evaluating educational development projects.