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Highlighting brilliant case studies within the Urban Context: Girls' Education Challenge

Presenting our new series: Highlighting brilliant case studies within the Urban Context. Our Cities and Regions network has scoured Europe to bring together the best examples of innovation happening within the urban context. The series includes 14 examples from around Europe. 

This case analyses the processes of learning by which the UK Department for International Development has evaluated the Girls' Education Challenge (GEC). The Challenge Fund was launched in 2012 with the intention to disburse £300 million to 37 different projects across 18 different countries. This is an example of where a government intervention is utilising the tools and methods of social innovation- namely the challenge fund model- in order to engender social change. It is therefore an example of government operating as a social innovation 'intermediary'. This is a very large project constituting the largest donor funded programme on girls' education. The initial business case for the project stated that the monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEAL) processes were planned to be ambitious because of the size of the project, its innovative character and the opportunities to fill gaps in knowledge for future policy makers and donors.

The MEAL had three different dimensions (See the Girls Education Challenge Business Case for more information): (1) An independent external evaluation conducted by a consortium led by COFFEY International- selected through competitive tender (2) The Fund Manager, a consortium led by PwC, who will support projects in monitoring and evaluation (3) Individual projects also have the responsibility to collect some of their own monitoring and evaluation data.

The programme was subject to logical frameworks from the start and the business case defined a set of expected results and critical success criteria. The project was also subject to continual learning and adaptation processes which meant that learning could inform the functioning of the project, this has been managed through an annual review process.

Key aspects of learning have been:

  • Assisting in developing the broader evidence base around best practice in extending educational provision in developing country contexts.
  • Understanding emerging critical intervention areas within education
  • Learning from the programme implementation and in order to be able to adapt the programme to achieve better outcomes. In particular learning how to better adapt frameworks to context.