Project: Empowered Citizens Enhancing Accountability of the Education Reform and Quality of Education in Moldova Project
Executing Agency: EXPERT-GRUP
Grant Amount: $696,955
Closing Date: December 2018
Frame and Challenge
Since gaining independence in 1990s, Moldova has experienced a constant decline in the quality of education. This has had a negative impact on the performance of Moldova’s students in international educational assessments in reading, math, and sciences. Moldova has the lowest scores in Europe, despite the fact that the Government spends close to 9% of GDP in the education sector. A high proportion of the education budget is directed to personnel expenditures and maintenance costs of school infrastructure, instead of quality enhancing investments.
In the context of ongoing decentralization reform in Moldova, schools have been granted greater independence to address education needs and manage allocated resources. However, parents and communities lack the necessary information and capacity to hold schools and teachers accountable for the services provided. Against this background, the Government has embarked on an ambitious education reform program aimed at increasing quality, efficiency, and evidence-based policymaking. This program entails the consolidation of schools and classrooms and the implementation of per-student financing mechanisms. In response to ongoing changes to the education sector, it is necessary to aid Moldova’s citizens in engaging local, regional and national authorities in evidence-based policy and budget dialogue regarding educational reform, quality of services, and development priorities of primary, secondary general and upper secondary schools; and to enable an environment in which social accountability initiatives thrive and develop.
EXPERT-GRUP, a think-tank dedicated to promoting financial transparency, has earned a GPSA grant to empower citizens to effectively engage with local and national authorities in budget processes and policy-making in the education sector. The grant will help EXPERT-GRUP and beneficiaries improve reforms and increase transparency in the use of public resources. This will be done by: 1) building partnerships and strengthening skills to implement social accountability tools; 2) empowering local and regional stakeholders to implement public hearings and citizen report cards to increase accountability; 3) integrating social accountability tools with government systems around policy-making and budget dialogues; and 4) collecting and curating knowledge to improve project design and share experiences internationally. Information generated will be used to support policy dialogue at the national level and will be shared with the Ministry of Education to provide feedback on policies and highlight the impact of ongoing reforms regarding education outcomes.
To date, the project has been applied in 100 schools in 30 Moldovan rayons, reaching 50,000+ students:
1. 29,000 school administrators, students, parents, teachers, District Councilmembers, mayors, CSOs, and entrepreneurs have participated in public hearings to discuss their school's budget.
2. More than 1,300 school administrators, teachers, parents and mayors, organized in local coalitions, held school managers accountable by participating in public hearings, monitoring school budget spending, and completing community scorecards.
3. For every school in Moldova, www.scoalamea.md offers budget, geolocation and performance indicator information publicly. The website serves as a platform for school stakeholders around the country to share knowledge on social accountability efforts.
The final evaluation of the project suggests important lessons can be learned from this Moldova Education Project, including but not limited to:
1. At educational system level: The social accountability project helped raise public awareness of problems in the education system in general, and aspects of schools’ financial autonomy in particular. It helped increase the media attention on financial transparency in the education system. Elements of the project’s social accountability tools were taken up in national policy documents, underscoring their value as feasible instruments in ensuring the transparency of local school budgets and further helping to increase the level of transparency of the education sector’s management.
2. Beyond the education system level, the project showed that social accountability can have a spillover effect, as it has changed the way that communities--rayons (administrative units) and mayoralties in the Moldovan case--use public hearings and organized events for consultation on local governance issues such as local budget setting and planning.
3. At the community level, the project helped communities be more informed and more involved in schools. Such increased involvement and activity by students can be an important precursor for increasing civic engagement of citizens throughout life. The role of local civil society organizations in promoting and implementing change at community level was enhanced; they became agents of change, a source of support and information for their partners in school institutions themselves.
4. At the level of the social actors, the project helped increase the capacities of the actors involved and contributed to their personal development in terms of needs assessment skills, communication and conflict management skills, public speaking skills, and the use of financial and digital data. The project changed the attitudes and behaviors of pupils, parents, teachers and representatives of the LPA and the community towards a culture of dialogue and transparency, individual and group participation and accountability on reforms in the field of education and the quality of educational services.
5. At the school level, the data collected on www.scoalamea.md provided parents with the ability to perform complex comparative analysis of their school’s situation vis a vis the situation of other schools. The physical comfort level and the psychological climate in many schools improved - factors influencing pupils' school success and the professional performance of teachers. School managers' financial management skills improved, and budget resources were more efficiently used.
Click to read the Project's Final Evaluation.
Click to see more Lessons Learned from this Moldova Education Project
Click on the following link to watch a video and learn more about the Project and Scoala Mea: Watch