GATE-GEC supported marginalised girls and boys with disabilities in primary and junior secondary schools to attend school, reach their full learning potential, learn in safe and inclusive environments, and transition to further education and beyond. The project was funded through the FCDO Girls’ Education Challenge programme and implemented by Plan International. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and the Institute for Development Sierra Leone (IfD) led the final evaluation.
Undertaken between January and July 2021, the evaluation used a theory-based implementation and process evaluation approach, blending a systematic analysis of existing project monitoring and evaluation data with qualitative data collection. The approach used participatory, gender-sensitive and inclusive methods to enhance meaningful engagement with project beneficiaries and stakeholders and meeting the highest safeguarding and ethical standards.
The evaluation approach helped to amplify the voices and lived experiences of vulnerable girls and boys participating in the project by using flexible, interactive, and playful approaches to engage young participants. Local researchers recruited from the targeted communities helped to increase access to remote regions that are often overlooked, build trust and engagement with participating communities, and minimise the risk of COVID-19-related disruptions.
Evaluation findings highlighted the value of targeted resources, teaching support, community initiatives, and safe learning spaces for marginalised children. For example, it found overwhelming support for the GATE-GEC study group initiative, which provided students with opportunities to catch-up on learning and build self-confidence, and for teachers to apply skills and techniques gained during continued professional development activities.