How EduTrac Peru Facilitates Local Decision-Making
Launched: June 2013
Post was originally posted on the resultsfordevelopment.org.
UNICEF Peru, in collaboration with the local nongovernmental organization Kunamia, adapted the EduTrac model from Uganda to mobilize communities to make evidence-based decisions for improving key learning outputs, namely, student and teacher attendance, school maintenance, and delivery of school materials. Within Peru’s diverse geography and decentralized education system, EduTrac Peru holds the potential to generate timely performance information on hard-to-reach schools to improve decision-making and promote community engagement in education.
As of 2013, Peru had achieved near-universal primary school net enrollment (96 percent) and gender parity (1.0). In the last decade, Peru has also seen large gains in net attendance rates for both pre-primary (from 59 percent in 2005 to 81 percent in 2014) and secondary education (from 72 percent to 83 percent). However, data about national enrollment access mask persistent inequalities in access and student achievement in Peru, especially among marginalized communities in Amazonian and mountainous regions of the country. Poor, indigenous language speakers from rural or remote communities often underperform their wealthier, Spanish-speaking peers. For example, although levels of reading comprehension and mathematic achievement are low across second-graders, the disparity between urban and rural students is particularly striking.
A number of challenges affect efforts to bolster
access to education and the quality of learning
in these regions. Interviewed policymakers and
community members note that families and
local officials do not always consider education
a priority. Flooding in the jungle and landslides
in the mountains present environmental barriers
to schooling. The extra costs of education,
such as transportation and uniforms, and the
opportunity cost of lost earnings when a child
attends school often result in children deserting
school to work. In southern mountainous regions like Ayacucho,
it is not uncommon for children to leave school
for employment in the cocaine industry. In addition to problems with student attendance,
many schools in these communities face
challenges with teacher attendance. It is often
the case that teachers do not begin the school
year on time or do not attend class regularly.
Lastly, the remoteness of these locations
complicates delivery of resources, data collection,
and other processes necessary to support schools
and promote effective learning.
In 2013, the Ministry of Education in Peru
convened international partners working in
the country to discuss a new agenda for the
education sector. Conversation frequently
turned to challenges in remote and rural
communities, such as difficulties distributing
materials and poor teacher attendance.
At that time, UNICEF Peru proposed piloting
EduTrac, a SMS-based tool, to collect more
timely and accurate data to address these
Given the model’s
potential to reach rural communities through
technology and its alignment with national
education priorities, the Ministry of Education
showed interest in it, pending evidence
of positive impact through an initial pilot.
Early discussions with key stakeholders included
the possibility of large-scale implementation.
However, UNICEF Peru ultimately designed
a pilot in a few priority communities to more
easily identify challenges and factors for success
before scaling the program.
UNICEF Peru partnered with local organization
Kunamia to help carry out the implementation.
Local teams based in the intervention regions
of Ucayali and Ayacucho engaged with those who
would be influential to the program’s acceptance
to earn their support. These collaborations
involved not only orienting stakeholders to
the purpose and objectives of EduTrac but also
listening to concerns and suggestions from
local counterparts to better contextualize the
intervention for local needs.
Though pilot implementation is still underway, both student and teacher attendance
in EduTrac Peru schools showed steady improvement over the first few months of
the intervention, increasing from 76 to 90 percent among teachers and from 73
to 84 percent among students. Preliminary findings also point to the innovation’s
potential to effect change among stakeholders across multiple levels.