EQUIP1: Secondary Education Activity, Final Report
Following independence in 1991, the Republic of Macedonia passed through a difficult period of transition and reform in a variety of spheres in order to prepare for entrance into the European Union. In the sphere of education, Macedonia’s participation in international assessment tests such as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) showed Macedonian students scoring significantly below the international average. Government leaders, keen to prepare their workforce to compete globally, undertook a series of reforms in order to improve educational quality and increase economic competitiveness of their citizens. In support of this goal, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the Secondary Education Activity (SEA).
On 5 September 2003, AIR, in cooperation with the International Reading Association (IRA), was awarded a cooperative agreement to implement the SEA in Macedonia. This five-year project aimed to improve the quality and relevance of secondary education for Macedonian youths, to equip them with the skills and knowledge to succeed in a changing social and economic environment, and to provide the Macedonian economy with a more flexible, better-prepared workforce. The SEA Project, fully funded by the USAID in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science (MOES), focused first on USAID Strategic Objective 3.4: Mitigate adverse social impact of the transition to market-based democracies which was later changed to Strategic Objective 3.4: Macedonian Youth are better prepared for employment through education programs. The project incorporated several strategies for achieving this result, including:
- Improving vocational instruction through the training of teachers,
- Improving school environments by helping make school directors more effective managers and agents of change,
- Supporting school boards in their new responsibilities and roles given them under decentralization, and
- Providing students with opportunities to practice and develop important business and leadership skills and providing the information needed to make smart choices about their careers.
To implement these strategies, SEA worked through four components:
- Teacher Development Component aims to support teacher professional development, enhance the knowledge and skills of teachers for quality teaching and improve students’ achievements.
- Career Development Component’s goal is to help better prepare secondary vocational students for employment through improving the practical, business-related experiences open to students.
- School Management Component (Director certification and school board support) works to improve professional competencies of school directors through initiation of Certification Program and continuous professional development as well as provide knowledge on School Board roles according to current legislation and develop capacity of school members to fulfill their duties and roles.
- Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Component plays a critical role throughout the life of a project. It provides essential information and feedback for effective and responsive project management - developing and revising indicators and instruments for data collecting; and providing data storage, analysis and reporting.
SEA implemented component activities to prepare youth for employment in 50 secondary vocational education schools with many activities expanding beyond the 50 target schools to other vocational, primary, and secondary schools throughout Macedonia. Below is a map of SEA’s original, 50 target schools.
The SEA final report is organized according to its four project components. For each of the three technical components (i.e., Teacher Development, Career Development, School Management), the report will cover the component’s background and structure; its activities and achievements; its strategies towards sustainability; and lessons learned, best practices and recommendations. The section summarizing the Research, Monitoring and Evaluation component will be more holistic and note summative findings.