Nigeria’s 80.2 million women and girls have significantly fewer life opportunities compared to their male counterparts. Marginalised adolescent girls in Nigeria face several barriers to accessing both formal and non-formal education including social and cultural norms, limited institutions, poverty and appropriate curriculum as evidenced by low enrolment and attainment rates.
As a result of this, The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) partnered with the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) Girl’s Education Challenge (GEC) to implement the Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprises (ENGINE) programme, an initiative to improve learning outcomes and the economic status of marginalized adolescent girls aged 16-19 in the Northern Nigerian states of Kano, Kaduna, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the metropolis of Lagos, Nigeria. ENGINE 1 was guided by Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiative to economically empower five million women in its global value chain by 2020. ENGINE 1 sought to improve the lives of 18,000 marginalized girls, in the four target states by improving the quality and reach of education and ensuring new educational opportunities translate into real economic and social choices for girls. ENGINE 1 ensured girls completed a full education cycle which increased learning outcomes. Adolescent girls also learnt and acquired demand-driven skills which enabled them become more skilled employees and micro-retailers. ENGINE 1 helped improve the communities by advocacy and awareness which enabled participants keep their own children in school longer - breaking intergenerational cycles of low educational achievement and poverty.
ENGINE’s theory of change states that when more marginalized Nigerian girls complete a full learning cycle of the program and are supported by gatekeepers, they will have improved learning outcomes, be higher skilled entrepreneurs or employees, have increased earning power and decision-making within the household, and benefit from improved perceptions in their household and community regarding their value.
This hypothesis contributes to one overall project impact, which is to increase the life chances of marginalized girls, supported by the following four outputs:
Output 1: Marginalized in-school girls improve academic performance, financial literacy and life skills.
Output 2: Marginalized out-of-school girls benefit from income generating and asset building opportunities.
Output 3: Gatekeepers change their perceptions and actions linked to girls participating in school and in economic opportunities.
Output 4: Increased funding to support marginalized girls’ education and income-generating opportunities.
The ENGINE 1 programme was designed to have multiple, related, synergistic clusters of activities. This complexity required a stringent evaluation approach designed to gain in depth understanding of how these factors would interact to promote sustained positive economic outcomes to marginalized girls.
The evaluation approach adhered to the structural principles as outlined in DFID’s evaluation policy: Independence, Transparency, Quality and Utility.
The evaluation design consisted of three elements:
1. Randomized control trial (RCT) design to:
A. Create a treatment and control group/clusters (of beneficiaries) within chosen LGAs
B. Measure impact through difference between control and treatment groups
This experimental design; a cluster- randomized control trial (RCT) was used with person level/ girl level outcomes.
2. Value for Money (VfM) Assessment: To assess the cost efficiency and effectiveness of the ENGINE 1 Programme. Preston Associates for International Development conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis to measure the cost and effects of ENGINE’s activities and inputs, on how it improved the lives of the marginalized girls in Nigeria. While there are many variants of costs analyses, cost effectiveness analysis framework lends itself well to the overall evaluation plan in that:
3. Performance evaluation: To evaluate the effectiveness of project implementation including its relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability TKG will perform front-end, formative, mid-term, and summative endline evaluation of program targets, objectives and results using project monitoring data and data gathered from stakeholders and beneficiaries. Environmental factors on the project will also be examined. Information gathered from these evaluations will assist Mercy Corps and its partners in modifying, refining and adjusting on-going implementation and to inform future programming.
The methodology for selecting the LGAs was as follows:
In assessing whether the programme’s inputs, outputs and outcomes achieved the goals set in its theory of change, it was discovered that significant changes have been evidenced in the learning outcomes (literacy and numeracy) of the girls who received support from the ENGINE Programme. Although the set targets were not met, it was evidenced that the literacy and numeracy skills of these girls have been brushed up.
It was a learning curve for the evaluation team and the programme, however, worthy of note is that the RCT model did not work for this programme in a country like Nigeria where the dynamics (such as religion, culture, and economic situations) extremely varies within and amongst different communities. Furthermore, there was also an increase in confidence level, decision making power and knowledge on financial literacy. Likewise, the programme also recorded a positive impact in changing the perception of the gatekeepers towards girls’ education. It was evidenced that not only did all the gatekeepers change their opinion on girls going to school, they were also advocating its importance in the lives of the girls, their families and society.