Reflections From the Bar ama Baro Evaluation Dissemination Workshop

Reflections From the Bar ama Baro Evaluation Dissemination Workshop

A recent workshop brought together Mogadishu-area educators and education experts to discuss the past, present, and future of an initiative bringing schooling to some of the most-needed groups in Somalia.

The Bar ama Baro (BaB) project has provided accelerated basic education (ABE) for formerly out-of-school children and youth in Somalia in recent years. The Somali Research Development Institute (SORDI), has been part of LASER Pulse team conducting a multi-year evaluation of the BaB program, and it organized a research dissemination workshop on November 9, 2023 to discuss what their evaluation showed regarding the ABE initiative. The meeting convened Benadir-area (Mogadishu) BaB teachers, headteachers, and Community Education Committee members. Also present were Ministry of Education experts, the Initiative for Early Childhood Development Center, SORDI researchers, and representatives from the USAID Somalia mission.

The event commenced with USAID Somalis mission’s Fatima Adan thanking SORDI and all the participants for their presence and contribution to the evaluation’s success. She introduced the new USAID Mission Director for Somalia, who was underscored the program’s importance for Somalia and reiterated her commitment to see the students’ schools and villages and watch the education happen firsthand.

Evaluation Results

Dr. Abdi Dalmar and Asia Mohamed from SORDI presented the findings from the external evaluation, specifically areas of effectiveness and areas for improvement and growth. For SORDI, this season of reporting and disseminating caps a two-year longitudinal study that looked at BaB and formal school students. The evaluation looked into the effectiveness of the BaB ABE model (or its components), learning outcomes for different groups of Somali learners across different learning situations, and the factors that influence scalability, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of ABE at scale.

Personal Stories of Impact

The event allowed participants to share personal experiences of how the program had helpd students who formerly only had limited access to education. For many, the Bar ama Baro project had become a lifeline. One participant shared a story:

A student would disappear during the school’s midday break and not return in the afternoon. When I tried to talk with him, he would cry. Another teacher informed me that this student had family problems and that his father was a soldier who had been injured, and his parents had divorced. Consequently, the student would head home at midday each day to help his father. After we confirmed what the teacher said, we helped the boy to arrange studies outside of class and occasionally in the school office during his free time. As a result, he is currently succeeding academically.

Further discussions that day turned to student retention, improvements for future ABE projects, and how to keep teachers engaged in their careers. Participants raised concerns about the age appropriateness of the Accelerated Basic Education (ABE) program and the need for clear transition pathways for BaB students to move into formal schools. They discussed the importance of tracking ABE students and teachers through the Education Management Information System (EMIS).

Beyond discussing the evaluation’s findings and the Bar ama Baro project’s impact on Somali students, the workshop gave educators and USAID insight into the future for Somalia’s ABE programs. The heartfelt stories and valuable feedback were another step in fostering a brighter future for Somalia’s out-of-school students and reinforce the power of education as a catalyst for change.

Three major evaluation questions guided this research.

  1. Is the Bar ama Baro (BaB) accelerated education program effective in providing access to quality education for Somali out-of-school children and youth?
  2. How do learner, school, and community characteristics impact learning outcomes for formal and BaB students?
  3. What can we learn from the BaB Implementation to inform decision-making for scale-up and sustainability?

The evaluation project advances USAID and its user groups’ ability to provide evidence-based Accelerated Basic Education Programs (ABEs).

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