The goals of UNICEF’s Child Friendly Schools program were to “ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling” and “eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015.” AIR evaluated this program to determine the progress toward guaranteeing universal access to school and adherence to and incorporation of known best practices about how to achieve learning outcomes for all students. UNICEF required technical support for the evaluation of the Child Friendly Schools program in six countries: the Philippines, Thailand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Guyana and South Africa.
AIR utilized primary and secondary data to focus on three underlying principles: inclusiveness, child-centeredness and democratic participation. AIR conducted a comprehensive, mixed-method research design that incorporated the collection of qualitative and quantitative data through surveys, interviews, focus groups and observations. In each of the six countries, local data collection teams visited 25 schools. The data gathered was based on architecture and services, pedagogy, inclusiveness, and participation and governance to peg their contribution to school climate and, indirectly, to improved student outcome. Data from school records and EMIS systems provided the school-level statistics used to gauge success in increasing enrollment and retention and progress on other key indicators.