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JICA USA April/May 2010

JICA Assesses the Impact of its Elementary Education Project in the Philippines

By Vanessa Arness, Program Officer

In an effort to measure its performance and to inform future education projects, the JICA USA Office recently signed a year-long contract with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to do an Impact Evaluation of JICA's Third Elementary Education Project in the Philippines.

Monitoring and evaluation have become essential words in every development professional's vocabulary. Hundreds of books have been written on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of official development assistance. With greater diligence, development institutions have moved to gather and analyze data to assess the impact of their programs and projects.

JICA is no stranger to these efforts; it is one of the agencies engaged in developing and applying rigorous quantitative methods to evaluate its aid effectiveness. In this context, in March of 2010, the JICA USA Office signed a contract with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to do an Impact Evaluation of JICA's Third Elementary Education Project in the Philippines.

The Third Elementary Education Project was a comprehensive intervention, combining both hard and soft components.

"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth." – Diogenes Laertius, Greek Historian

In the mid-1990s, the Government of the Philippines faced three major problems with its elementary education system: deteriorating quality; uneven access to schooling; and overly centralized management.

In an effort to change course and strengthen its school system, the Government of the Philippines teamed up with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (this arm of JBIC, which provided loans at concessionary rates, is now a part of JICA) and the World Bank to
launch the Third Elementary Education Project
(TEEP) in 1998.

Over the course of eight and a half years (January 1998 to June 2006), JBIC supplied US$91 million and the World Bank supplied US$83 million to overhaul the elementary education system in 23 economically disadvantaged provinces in the Philippines.

The approach was a comprehensive one. With a combination of school construction and rehabilitation, textbooks and school supplies, principal and teacher training, information management instruction, and school governance reform, JBIC and the World Bank set out to improve learning achievements, increase access to quality elementary education, and to build the institutional capacity of the Department of Education.

The TEEP also actively supported the decentralization process. With the implementation of School Based Management (SBM), significant decision-making authority shifted to individual schools. Furthermore, by implementing SBM programs, principals, teachers, parents, and members of the school's local community were encouraged to become more involved in school improvement planning, monitoring, and budgeting.

This Impact Evaluation is noteworthy in several respects. 

This project will be the first Impact Evaluation of the Third Elementary Education Project to use hard data and rigorous quantitative analysis to assess the effects of JICA's education policy intervention.

Secondly, while most evaluation studies on education projects thus far have focused on short-term outcomes (such as test scores and dropout rates), this study also seeks to link education inputs to labor market outcomes. By investigating the project's long-term effects, this Impact Evaluation will determine whether the kids who participated in the TEEP went on to obtain higher levels of education or fared better in the job market than those who did not.

Furthermore, due to the distinct nature of the TEEP (a broad-based intervention with a mix of hard and soft components), JICA has set an ambitious goal to measure the impact of both the hard inputs (such as school construction, school rehabilitation, textbooks and supplies) and soft inputs (including teacher and principal training and School Based Management) on learning achievements.

Another unique feature of the Impact Evaluation will be to examine what factors contribute to the success of School Based Management.

The Impact Evaluation is off to a strong start.

Dr. Yamauchi and Fe Gascon, local consultant, pre-test a student questionnaire

Dr. Futoshi Yamauchi of IFPRI is leading the Impact Evaluation project with the support of colleagues at IFPRI, local consultants and field staff. JICA plans to closely monitor the project planning, data collection, and data analysis process.

The Impact Evaluation Project was officially launched with a Kick-Off Meeting on March 24 in the Manila with JICA staff, Dr. Yamauchi, and officials from the Philippines's Department of Education, including Dr. Yolanda S. Quijano, the Director of the Bureau of Elementary Education.  The Department of Education expressed their enthusiasm for the Impact Evaluation, and we are delighted to have their support.

Over the next seven months, Dr. Yamauchi and his team will visit eight provinces in the Philippines to track and interview approximately 3500 former students to collect data at the individual, household, school and community levels. This micro data, along with data provided by the Department of Education, will be used to assess the short- and long-term impacts of the TEEP.

The results of the TEEP Impact Evaluation will inform JICA's future decision-making process.

The ultimate goals of the TEEP Impact Evaluation are to fully grasp the impact of the project and JICA's intervention, to build up JICA's own impact evaluation experience, to inform the Philippines's Department of Education and JICA's planning for future education projects, and to share the results with the international development community.

We also look forward to keeping you informed of the developments and discoveries of the TEEP Impact Evaluation.

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