At the onset, I would like to thank the Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST) and in particular, Ms. Shraddha Chigateri and Ms. Akansha Babbar for giving me an opportunity to attend the 4th International Conference by the Sri Lanka Evaluation Association (SLEvA). The main theme of the conference was “Evaluation for Change”, wherein I had presented the paper (abstract is given below), jointly written by Ms. Vimala Ramachandran and myself, under the sub-theme “Evaluation for Equity”.
It was a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow researchers and evaluators from different organizations and countries. Since our paper was an evaluation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA), primarily from gender and equity lens, I was looking forward to getting more insights into how other organizations have conducted equity-based evaluations for different programs. As a part of our panel, there were 5 presentations, including ours:
One of the main learning for me from the conference was that there is a need to measure how various equity-based evaluation programs ultimately impact various stakeholders, especially vulnerable groups, women and children.
We know that there are many determinants of equity – location, gender, social and cultural groups, caste identity and socio-economic status. We also know that these determinants are inter-related and inter-dependent. Therefore, I wanted to understand in what ways different equity-based evaluation programs are integrating all these aspects, what methodologies are being employed and what conclusions are drawn after such evaluations, especially in the field of education. Further, apart from equity-based determinants, there are many crosscutting issues that equally impact equity in education, for example, teacher behavior and attitude, role of SMCs, school infrastructure, distribution of incentives and scholarships etc. In such a situation, what sort of policies should be put in place so that they address all these crosscutting issues simultaneously.
Another aspect on which I was looking for information was examples of different case studies where the results of evaluation programs created an impact on the lives of various stakeholders. However, due to limited time, not many case studies were presented and discussed. It would have been enriching if there were more examples of equity-based evaluations. Finally, one last question that was largely left unanswered was what happens in situations when policy makers’ refuses to acknowledge the results of equity based evaluations.
In conclusion, while the conference provided a platform to share case studies from different countries, I was hoping for more examples of equity-based evaluations.
Evaluation of gender and equity issues under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan
Vimala Ramachandran and Prerna Goel Chatterjee
In the last 50 years, India has made significant progress in the field of education. Almost 96% children between 6-14 years are currently enrolled in schools (ASER, 2012). However, data on enrolment highlights only one aspect of children’s participation in schooling. Similarly, even though significant progress has been made to bridge gender and social gaps in schools, there are still huge challenges in bridging this gap, especially beyond primary school. Many reasons have been ascribed to this including poverty, gender relations in society, poor school infrastructure, caste/community hierarchies, discrimination, shortage of female teachers etc. In fact, gender and equity issues get more complex when we move beyond male-female and rural-urban categories and start including factors such as location (for e.g. remote, tribal, conflict areas), caste/social/religious identity, economic status, type of school (e.g. government, private), occupation of parents and disabilities. Keeping this in mind, current study tries to understand how gender and equity issues are being addressed under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (Universal Elementary Education).
In 2001, the Government of India launched Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) with the specific purpose of achieving universal elementary education. One of the main goals of SSA was to bridge gender and social gaps at primary education level by 2007 and at elementary education level by 2010. Even though SSA program is primarily financed by the Government of India, three external Development Partners (DP) also contribute funds towards SSA, namely: World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Union (EU). Being a partnership program, a six monthly review is carried out by the GOI and DP, which is known as the Joint Review Mission (JRM).
This desk review was conceptualized with the purpose of doing a thorough review monitoring and evaluation processes of SSA JRM reports in order to understand how gender and equity goals have been tracked and addressed by the government and donor partners. In fact, this is perhaps one of the first studies to explore the effectiveness of M&E processes of SSA.
In this study, following questions have also been explored:
 ASER (2013). Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2012. ASER Centre, New Delhi.
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