Mozambique is at a critical moment for early childhood education (ECE). Following the large-scale pilot of a community-based ECE program (known by its Portuguese acronym DICIPE- Desenvolvimento Integral da Criança em Idade Pré-Escolar), the country is now planning for the future scale-up of ECE interventions. A series of three separate evaluations of the pilot—a Process Evaluation, an Impact Evaluation, and a Costing Exercise—are in progress to help improve program quality and inform the scaling up of services.
Background of DICIPE
The DICIPE pilot established preschools in 350 selected communities throughout five provinces in Mozambique. The Ministry of Education and Human Development (MINEDH) contracted Third Party Providers (TPPs) to implement and provide ECE services throughout the five provinces under its supervision and management. From 2015-2019, TPPs were responsible for providing all services at the community level, including mobilizing communities, building preschool facilities, training teachers, and delivering ECE services to children 3-5 years old, 5 days a week for 3 hours a day. Throughout implementation of the pilot, the newly-established Preschool Department in MINEDH received a series of trainings to develop the needed human resources, knowledge, and capacity to eventually take over direct implementation and management of the preschools from the TPPs and prepare for future expansion of ECE services. During the last year of the pilot, MINEDH assumed full responsibility for all 350 preschools.
Evaluating the Quality of the DICIPE Pilot
In 2018-2019, the World Bank led a Process Evaluation of the DICIPE pilot to examine how program activities were delivered throughout the duration of the pilot; how closely the interventions were implemented as planned; and how well program interventions reached the target population.
A key part of the Process Evaluation was evaluating the quality of service delivery at the preschool and classroom levels, using the quality module (The Measure of Early Learning Environments (MELE)) from the Measuring Early Learning Quality and Outcomes (MELQO) tool. The World Bank team led the MELE work with support from the ECD Measure team on data analysis.
Results from the MELE in Mozambique captured both positive aspects of the program as well as areas for improvement. Overall findings suggest the need for greater focus and improvement on the program’s pedagogical aspects, such as:
- poor use of learning materials
- lack of required pre-and in-service teacher training
- little use of a curriculum to guide learning processes
These aspects, in turn, had negative correlations with the quality of learning and service delivery, resulting in low scores in pedagogy in almost all subject areas.
Deeper data analysis showed significant correlations between teacher education levels and the amount of training they received with key aspects of quality, including pedagogy, materials, health and safety, and teacher interactions. This data indicate that future program design should put stronger emphasis on the education level of teachers, as well as the quality and quantity of in- and pre-service teacher training, to improve overall classroom quality.
The MELE also captured positive aspects of the DICIPE model, including the importance and involvement of the community. As the DICIPE model focused on community-based preschools, a critical aspect of the programming was the development of an ECE Community Coordination Committee (CCC). The CCC included key community members, including a representative from the local primary school, and supported the planning, decision-making, and actions to improve DICIPE at the community level. The MELE captured high levels of satisfaction with the CCCs role in terms of its added value to the overall management of the preschools. In fact, MELE data showed that the CCC plays an important role, not only in facilitating parent and community engagement, but also in improving the quality of the learning environment. Preschools located in communities with trained and actively engaged CCCs presented better outcomes in classroom pedagogy, child engagement, and facilitator interaction.
The data captured in the MELE and broader Process Evaluation provides the government with information and evidence on existing programmatic features to include in the scaling-up of ECE services, as well as features that require improvement to ensure the quality of services when implemented at scale.
The Process Evaluation will be followed by an Impact Evaluation and a Costing Exercise, with results expected in 2021. The Impact Evaluation will measure the effects of the DICIPE program on key dimensions of children’s development and school readiness, enrollment in primary school, as well as any potential spill-over effects of the program on older siblings and caregivers. Data collected in the Costing Exercise will lead to more informed investments by improving the efficiency of administration, so that expected and actual expenditures are better aligned, investments are made in the most cost-effective interventions, and cost and quality trade-offs can be analyzed.
This is the first time that a Process Evaluation will accompany an Impact Evaluation and Costing Exercise focused on scaling up ECE interventions in rural Africa. Together, these three tools will provide policymakers with a better understanding of current spending on ECD interventions, the cost of delivering high-quality interventions, and the outcomes. The successes and lessons learned through these studies can provide insight and guidance to the Government of Mozambique and other countries as they consider scaling up ECE interventions.