According to UNESCO data, 129 million girls around the world have been out of school even before the outbreak of COVID-19. In countries affected by conflict, girls are more than twice as likely to be out of school than girls living in non-affected countries. Due to national COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures disrupting their education, UNESCO estimates that 11 million girls might not return to school at all.
The Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) was launched by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) in 2012 as a £355 million, 12-year commitment to reach the most marginalised girls in the world and is the largest global fund dedicated to girls’ education.
Phase I of the Girls’ Education Challenge, which ran from 2012 to 2017, directly provided quality education for over a million marginalised girls delivered through 38 projects working in 18 countries.
The GEC is now in its second phase (2017-2025), enabling girls in 41 projects across 17 countries to complete primary school, transition to secondary education, and progress on to technical vocational training or employment. Through the support of the Leave No Girl Behind initiative, the GEC also provides highly marginalised, adolescent girls who are out of school with the literacy and numeracy skills they need.
We were appointed to be the Evaluation Manager role for the GEC in 2012. During GEC Phase I, we designed and implemented the programme’s monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework to assess its effectiveness, impact and value for money.
We gathered quantitative and qualitative impact data on an unprecedented scale for our client and partners in some of the most challenging research environments, including refugee camps in Kenya, in Afghanistan, Somalia and the Kivus region in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This allowed us to generate transferable lessons about what worked, for whom, where and why in delivering girls’ education outcomes. This information helped improve outcomes during the programme’s lifetime, as well as future programming decisions – in particular, the development of GEC Phase II.
Tasked with continuing our independent evaluation for GEC Phase II, we have started to produce a series of evaluation studies on different aspects of GEC II implementation and outcomes – including the impact of COVID-19 – together with our partners at the Research and Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre at the University of Cambridge, Fab Inc., and other academic and data collection partners. Our robust evidence and learning for the FCDO as well as programme and implementing partners, will inform ongoing improvements in the design and delivery of the GEC II portfolio, and provide improvements to GEC II projects continuing beyond 2021.
Our evaluation will allow the FCDO, implementing partners and wider stakeholders and interested parties to see which interventions worked well and which interventions worked less well. This work plays an essential role in the design and funding of future programmes focussing on girls’ education, as well as wider FCDO departmental programming.
As we continue the journey of our independent evaluation, we will continue to provide our products and results to wider communities – FCDO country offices, conferences such as the UKFIET Conference, and to ministries of education around the world – to ensure work to educate girls is informed and effective.
18 countries (Phase I)
17 countries (Phase II)
2012-2017 (Phase I)
2017-2025 (Phase II)
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, UK
Our team evaluating the Girls’ Education Challenge are providing our clients and stakeholder with resourceful knowledge and learning products that have proven crucial to informing the design and ongoing delivery of the GEC.
Providing important lessons and transferrable information for future girls’ education programmes, the most recent resources from GEC Phase II – Access and learning and Teachers and teaching – can be found below.