• Research seminar shares lessons from five year study of school dropout

    9 February 2021
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    In conjunction with the Education Observatory, CIDT’s Mary Surridge delivered a presentation around the recently completed longitudinal study of school survival in Zimbabwe, funded by UNICEF.

    The study, which followed a cohort of 3,800 learners from across the country, focused on the critically important transition point from primary to secondary school and beyond in order to assess the key factors that led to learners remaining and succeeding in school or dropping out. It also continued to track those who did drop out, to analyse the pathways taken and the impact on their lives.

    The findings of the study highlight where and at what stage in the education cycle to prioritise spending in order to leverage the best results, particularly in terms of ensuring access to quality education for the most marginalised girls and boys. It has generated discussion about the role of government and communities in the education of the nation’s children.

    Mary’s presentation to University colleagues revealed several stories of the challenges children must overcome to continue with their education, such as that of a Zimbabwean girl called Pari:

    After her father passed away when Pari was in Grade 5, she started fending for the family. She said she does all sorts of jobs working in people’s fields, fetching water and even gold mining. She said they go to a river where they do the gold mining activities. She explained that she and her brother would use hoes to dig in the river and  wheelbarrows to carry their load of stones. They sell their stones to buyers. At the most they get $3 which she shares equally with her brother so they can buy sandals and a book and a pen from the $1.50.

    She then returns to school. After a few days when another book is needed she goes back to mining. She explained how the work is so hectic and she does not even have time for reading. She says that she misses a lot of school days because she has to fend for the family.

    The mixed methods study used both quantitative and qualitative tools including three major surveys undertaken with over 8000 children, questionnaires with almost 1500 teachers and questionnaires with parents and caregivers. Forty case studies gave an insight into the varying circumstances of different children. Tracking and field visits at the midline stage discovered that the learners from 270 primary schools had scattered to 628 secondary schools.

    Some of the key findings showed that of the 3724 learners:

    • 67% are still in school
    • 43 learners are repeating a grade
    • 11% are known to have dropped out

    Findings indicate that the following three key factors have the greatest impact on a learner’s ability to remain in school:

    • Being able to afford school fees and materials
    • Parental commitment and belief in education
    • Learners commitment, confidence and self esteem

    Additionally, the study showed more challenges for learners from rural areas. The difference between boys and girls chances of remaining in school was only slight with boys having the greater chance. The initiatives from certain schools, in particular for helping with school fees, were crucial in some circumstances. Whilst it is not legal, many children reported being ‘chased from school’ at times when they were behind on fees.

    Regarding children that dropped out of school, many were followed up with telephone interviews, revealing that the major cause was household poverty and the inability to meet the costs of education. Where families live in areas where there is a high need for labour, parents are less motivated to fund schooling. For girls, lack of support, early marriage and pregnancy also featured as causes. Other risks included the dropout of siblings or friends.

    Almost all dropouts wanted to return to school but face the barriers of cost, age and learning abilities

    Mary also spoke about the impact of COVID-19. With more families unable to pay fees and school difficulties in enforcing social distancing, as well as interruptions to support and problematic online learning provision there has been a big impact on educational outcomes.

    Key recommendations

    Government should:

    • Maintain an effective national tracking system
    • Increase financial equity in the system
    • Address the direct and indirect costs of education for orphans and vulnerable children
    • Encourage schools to engage more with communities and parents/caregivers
    • Ensure schools have the capacity to adhere to the law

    Schools should:

    • Identify and support children that are likely to be affected in the transition to secondary schools
    • Provide training for staff so that they are better equipped to support children
    • Facilitate better transition planning with individualised transition plans for learners.
    • Establish an early detection and support system for children at risk of dropping out
    • Innovate and increase access to vocational training and development of trades skills

    In his introduction, Prof Philip Dearden gave a background to CIDT’s education work and experience of large scale evaluation studies, particularly around girls’ education and touched on the impact that the report is already having on education policy in Zimbabwe:

    “As we will hear, the study uncovered a wide range of interesting statistics and many personal stories of determination and courage often against all odds. The results have provided the Government of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with evidence to support its planning, policy shaping and expenditure on education.”

    Mary Surridge, the team leader for this work, joined the University in 1989 in what was then the Centre for Curriculum and Staff Development in the School of Education. Mary then joined CIDT and has been with us for 30 years.  During this time, she has worked in over 30 different countries, mostly in education, gender and social inclusion.

    Mary’s resolve kept the study on track through the COVID-19 pandemic. Working closely with project partners Muthengo Development Solutions and Development Data, she was able to keep significant policy makers in Zimbabwe interested and engaged, ensuring that the key messages were delivered and received in time to impact upon policy decisions.

    Thank you to the Educational Observatory for hosting this seminar and to Amy Welham for all her organisational work in getting this event to happen.

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  • Spotlight on CIDT’s work in Africa

    CIDT spotlight on Africa brochure

    CIDT was invited to showcase its projects and impact in Africa to the UK’s Ambassador for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE, during a Trade Commission visit organised by the Department for International Trade at Derby University on 5th March 2020.

    Focused on Working in Partnership, the event was hosted by the Midlands Enterprise University of which the University of Wolverhampton is a member. A large proportion of CIDT’s work in recent years has focused on strengthening capacity of projects, programming and organisations in over 25 sub-Saharan African countries.

    We are proud to support multi-lateral agencies engaged in regional development including the African Union, UNIDO, UNICEF, DFID and the World Bank. CIDT has implemented three multi-million European Union funded grants in Central Africa and delivered longitudinal studies in Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia.

    Click the icons on the map below to explore our work, for example, supporting green growth in Rwanda, infrastructure in Somaliland, education in Zambia or energy in Nigeria.

    Click here to download the full brochure.

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  • A return to Jamaica after 15 years

    4 March 2019
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    CIDT long-term associate Patt Flett was recently in Kingston, Jamaica to deliver training as part of CIDT’s support to the Caribbean Development Bank’s Project Cycle Management training programme. The visit was particularly poignant for Patt as from 2000-2003 she lived in Jamaica as a long-term technical advisor to the Jamaica All Age Schools Project (JAASP).

    CIDT managed this three year DFID-funded project working with 48 remote, rural ‘All-Age schools’, many perched on inaccessible mountain tops, and representing each of the six education regions of the island. The purpose of the project was to provide better education for children in poor rural communities and, through this, to contribute to improve their lifetime opportunities. Read more about JAASP outcomes at school, pupil, community and government levels.

    Patt had these reflections:

    “JAASP was one of the most rewarding projects I have ever worked on. Most rewarding for me was the opportunity to work alongside the education officers supporting the headteachers, teachers and local communities in their schools; to feel a close part of everything that was happening. It also gave me the chance to explore many remote and incredibly beautiful parts of Jamaica. As soon as I heard the CDB programme was to be delivered in Jamaica I said Me! Me! Please!

    As well as having a thoroughly enjoyable time with the participants in the CDB PCM workshops, I also managed to catch up with old friends from the project. One is now a Deputy Chief Education Officer and another is a consultant supporting schools across Jamaica. Through them I heard of others we had worked with, mostly good news, some sad. Seeing the Blue Mountains reminded me of trips to Penlyne school at the end of a steep 4-wheel drive mountain track. I couldn’t be in Jamaica without driving through to Mandeville, where I’d been based. Going to church with a close friend on Sunday was a friendly homecoming. Little has changed in Mandeville, it was wonderful to return and feel instantly at home. I have so many good memories of my time in Jamaica, both related to the project and my own experiences; memories of the kindness and joy that can be found everywhere on this beautiful island.”

    PCM training
    Patt Flett delivering Project Cycle Management training.

    During her recent visit Patt facilitated modules in Project Design, Project Management, Risk Management and Train the Trainer for Government of Jamaica civil servants, mostly at the Director level. Other members of the CIDT training team delivering in Jamaica were Susan Branker Greene and Sergei Prozarau. Monitoring and Evaluation proved to be a particularly hot topic, with 32 participants attending and more being turned away due to the size of the venue. Participants attended from 15 Ministries and Government agencies with the highest representation from the Ministry of Finance and Public Service, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries; and the Cabinet office.

    “I learnt a lot and it has given me a whole new perspective on why each step in doing a project is important.”

    “This was a great learning opportunity. I found the content to be very useful and applicable to my current job.” 

    “The experience was good and discussions were rich.  I also learnt from other participants as we shared on the various topics.”

    “Learning experience was excellent. Great facilitator, great content, great delivery!”

    CDB module participants

    Read more about the CDB PPAM and PCM training programme here:

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  • Highlighting results and lessons from three years of education sector support in Zambia

    25 February 2018
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    ZESSTA document covers

    We are delighted to announce the successful conclusion of the DFID Zambia Education Sector Support Technical Assistance facility (ZESSTA) (2014-2018). CIDT have provided over 550 staff and associate days of technical assistance from Lilla Oliver, Patt Flett, Andrew Snowden and Rob Smith in the areas of Curriculum Reform, Human Resources Management and Research, Evaluation and Impact.

    Results papers

    ZESSTA Results Papers document coverThe Results Papers document offers some key information on how a demand-driven Support Technical Assistance project can focus on areas of key government need to push forward on key constraints in the topics of: Planning, Technical Assistance, strengthening M&E for accountability in an education ministry,  bringing in a new approach to school leadership, developing a new assessment policy and implementing it and the introduction of teaching practice standards.

    The document features all six results paper produced:

    • Implementation of the revised curriculum;
    • Using technical assistance to get things done in a busy organisation;
    • Towards a learning and accountable ministry: Strengthening M&E capacity in the Ministry of General Education;
    • Zambia adopts a new approach to strengthening school leadership;
    • Improving learning for all: Developing assessment policy and changing practice;
    • Developing teacher performance through national professional standards.

    Lesson learning

    ZESSTA Lesson Learning document coverThe Lesson Learning paper highlights several important achievements and lessons from the facility including:

    • the introduction of teaching standards;
    • the support a TA Facility can provide and conditions for it;
    • the significance of how and where decisions are made in conjunction with the TA facility;
    • the nature of human and financial resourcing;
    • the time required for adopting new approaches.

    Lastly there are lessons about how to develop a legacy for the project so that the results are embedded.

    ZESSTA Podcast

    To bring ZESSTA to life in the words of key project partners, you can listen to the podcast outlining the context, journey and achievements of ZESSTA.

    We wish all project participants and partners well in their future endeavours as this key support to Zambia budget support ends.

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  • Longitudinal study aims to combat school dropouts in Zimbabwe

    8 November 2017
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    UNICEF project team

    CIDT is leading a new four-year study in Zimbabwe that will track 3780 students to explore the factors that influence school dropouts. The study is funded by UNICEF.

    Over the next four years CIDT and a research team in Zimbabwe will track a cohort of boys and girls, to understand how they progress through primary and secondary school. In particular, this longitudinal research seeks to illuminate the factors that predict and account for successful transition and survival (or dropping out) in Zimbabwean schools.

    The study will review the process of dropping out of school with the aim of pinpointing the best entry points for optimal impact of policy and programme interventions. We will seek to learn from the pathways pursued of those children that drop out of school, as well as the actions at different levels that can enhance participation in the education system.

    We will use mixed methods approaches to investigate a range of factors operating at the level of the learner as well as interrogate the influences of the household, school, community and institutional dimensions on education outcomes in Zimbabwe.

    In total the study is targeting a nationally representative sample of 3780 students drawn from a range of school types, geographical locations, and socio-economic backgrounds.

    In this project the CIDT is collaborating with two national consultancy firms based in Zimbabwe: Muthengo Development Solutions and Development Data.

    The project team consists of Mary Surridge (Team leader), Lilla Oliver (Education Specialist) and Canford Chiroro (Project Manager and Qualitative Research Specialist).

    For further information please do not hesitate to contact Dr Canford Chiroro.


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  • Rebalancing Zambia’s teaching workforce

    3 May 2017
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    ZESSTA logo

    A new workstream has been implemented in the CIDT supported Zambia Education Sector Support Technical Assistance (ZESSTA) Facility to improve human resources issues, such as teacher shortages, performance management and professional teaching standards.

    The ‘Strengthening Human Resource Management’ stream of the ZESSTA Facility is designed to help rebalance Zambia’s teaching workforce, given current shortages in rural and remote areas and an overprovision of teachers in some urban schools. In addition, the initiatives being implemented will combat high levels of absence, poor behaviour and low motivation among teachers.

    To achieve its key objective of improving performance management of teachers in schools, the team is working with a number of directorates in the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) to develop sets of national professional standards for teachers, teacher educators and headteachers.

    These standards set out what is expected of these three groups and will support appointment and promotion processes, appraisal and staff development and the licensing and relicensing of teachers.

    The team has worked closely with the MoGE Institutional Leadership and Management team to develop standards which will clarify the expectations of headteachers and help those headteachers performance manage their teaching teams.

    Supported by the Director of Human Resources and Administration in the MoGE, ZESSTA is implementing pilot districts to audit the actual deployment of teachers in order to correct their pay and understand where under- and over-staffing exists.

    CIDT’s Lilla Oliver, Core Adviser Curriculum (CA-C) at the ZESSTA Facility, commented on the potential impact of this work, “We’re excited about the impact that this initiative will have in Zambia, not only on teachers, but on the whole education system. If the country’s 90,000 teachers are better supported, this could have a significant positive effect on pupil learning and attainment.”

    Find out more about our work in Zambia at the ZESSTA project page.

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  • Independent Qualitative Research Study of Camfed’s Girls Education Challenge Step Change Window Project in Tanzania and Zimbabwe

    3 November 2016
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    Validation workshop

    Validation workshopIn September to October 2016, four CIDT consultants, Mary Surridge, Lilla Oliver, Sarah Thomas and Rufsana and two external consultants in Zimbabwe and Tanzania were contracted to undertake a qualitative study of Camfed’s Girls’ Education Challenge Step Change Window (GEC SCW) project in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, in order to contribute to, and complement the quantitative end line survey and better understand which elements of the project are working (or not), how and why.

    Camfed’s GEC SCW project targets marginalised girls in rural communities of Zimbabwe and Tanzania with an aim of increasing girls’ retention through a full cycle of early secondary education and improving their opportunities to learn.  The project interventions are targeted in 24 districts in Zimbabwe and 11 in Tanzania, in 991 secondary schools, and include:

    • Providing financial support to meet girls’ material needs, combined with targeted local initiatives to tackle obstacles to girls’ retention and ensure a supportive educational environment.
    • Developing and distributing low-cost, self-directed study guides in core curriculum subjects to support academic learning as well as a broader life skills curriculum.
    • Enabling young women on leaving school to play a role as Learner Guides, supporting children in their local schools while gaining status and opportunities.
    • Reinforcing existing local government and community structures to respond to the needs of marginalised girls, safeguard their rights and entitlements and reinforce children protection, and ultimately to influence policy.
    • Pioneering use of mobile technology to capture real-time data about girls, their schools and communities, and to open up opportunities for networking and access to educational resources.
    • Engaging with national education partners to develop and review the approach under the GEC, and to identify opportunities for key lessons and practices to be adopted more widely.

    The consultants travelled to various districts including, Gokwe, Umguza, Kibaha and Harare in Zimbabwe and Rufiji, Morogoro, Handeni and Pangani in Tanzania to conduct their evaluation. They met with a broad range of in-country actors and stakeholders, including schools, headteachers, teachers, District Operations Secretariats/District Coordinators, Community Development Committees, School Development Committees (Zimbabwe only), Ministry of Education District Education Officers, local officials, community groups, male and female students and young girls involved in the project.

    Following the country visit, the consultants successfully delivered a validation workshop in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, with stakeholders, including CAMFED representatives presenting the preliminary findings and will merge both country findings to deliver a final research report.

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  • CIDT technical assistance in Zambia supports training of 98,000 teachers on the implementation of the revised curriculum

    25 August 2016
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    ZESSTA team

    ZESSTA teamCIDT is a member of the consortia – led by British Council – that supports the MoGE Zambia Education Sector Support Technical Assistance (ZESSTA) Facility.

    The ZESSTA Facility is an initiative funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) that provides MoGE with access to technical assistance on a demand-driven basis and in line with its sector plans.

    TCIG cover

    Above: The new TCIG.

    Planning a revised National Curriculum

    Through its ZESSTA Facility, the Ministry has previously commissioned a study to generate and cost options to address the challenges faced in the roll-out of the revised National Curriculum. One of the options proposed and accepted was wide-scale in-service training to help teachers implement the revised curriculum.

    Another of the options proposed was the design of a document that would provide teachers with easy-access guidance on the revised curriculum. This document, the Teachers’ Curriculum Implementation Guide (TCIG), will be used as core reference material during the in-service training of 98,000 teachers.  All teachers in Zambia will receive a copy of the TCIG which will be valuable resource to guide them in the implementation of the revised curriculum.

    Rolling out the new Curriculum

    TOT Process

    Above: Steps to rolling out the National Curriculum to 98,000 teachers.

    From 2529 July 2016, in a workshop in Lusaka, 40 MoGE education professionals were trained as trainers of the revised national curriculum. ZESSTA supported MoGE to facilitate this training with technical assistance provided by CIDT and two national curriculum specialists.

    These trainers will commence the training of Provincial trainers from 18 August 2016 who will in turn train teachers in their Provinces on the implementation of the revised national curriculum.

    Training of trainers workshops

    The following photos have been taken at teacher training workshops across the country.

    Congratulations to Zambia’s MoGE!

    The impact of the new National Curriculum will be phenomenal and the MoGE will have achieved a significant milestone in being able to train their 98,000 teachers through support and technical assistance provided by ZESSTA.

    The CIDT team

    Staff from CIDT who are working closely on the ZESSTA programme are:
    • Mary Surridge, inception phase/planning
    • Lilla Oliver, Core Adviser for Curriculum
    • Patt Flett, Core Adviser for research, surveys and impact evaluation
    • Andrew Snowden, HR Adviser
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  • CIDT supports MoGE Zambia to produce Curriculum Implementation Guide

    19 November 2015
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    Mrs Cecilia Sakala Director of Standards and Curriculum presentation made at first key stakeholder workshop

    CIDT is a member of the consortia – led by British Council – that supports the MoGE Zambia Education Sector Support Technical Assistance (ZESSTA) Facility. Recent developments have led to Zambia’s Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education (MESVTEE) being reorganized and separated into two Ministries: the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) and the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE).

    CIDT staff visited Zambia for a two-week assignment at the end of October 2015 to support the Teacher Education and Specialized Services (TESS) in MoGE to produce a comprehensive costed plan for the National Train the Trainer programme to support curriculum roll-out.

    The second focus of the engagement was to work collaboratively with the Director of Standards and Curriculum to produce a situation report on the current status of the costed options for curriculum implementation. It is encouraging to report that the first key activity to improve and enhance the implementation of the revised curriculum will be to design and develop a Teachers’ Curriculum Implementation Guide (TCIG).

    Participants of the TCIG workshop celebrate their hard work and achievement at the conclusion of the workshop on Friday 27th Nov 2015

    Participants of the TCIG workshop celebrate their hard work and achievement at the conclusion of the workshop on Friday 27th Nov 2015

    The TCIG will be designed during a 10-day workshop from 16th November 2015 to 27th November 2015 and will be facilitated by an international curriculum specialist engaged by ZESSTA. Support and quality assurance will be provided by CIDT staff Lilla Oliver as the ZESSTA Core Adviser for Curriculum. In attendance will be 27 HQ MoGE staff from Early Childhood Education, CDC, Technical Vocational Education and Training & TESS as well as a representative from the Examinations Council Zambia (ECZ) and four practising / exemplary teachers from each type of school which is implementing the revised curriculum.

    Watch this space for an update on the progress of this TCIG following CIDT’s next visit to Zambia in early December 2015.



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  • Zambia education project moves from inception to implementation

    22 June 2015
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    First Key Stakeholder workshop

    First Key Stakeholder workshopThe DFID-funded Zambia Education Sector Support Technical Assistance (ZESSTA) Programme has now moved from inception to project implementation phase from 1st June 2015. The British Council is responsible for delivering this programme in partnership with Ecorys, the Forum for African Women Educationalists of Zambia (FAWEZA) and the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) University of Wolverhampton. This programme will support Zambia’s Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education (MESVTEE) to improve the country’s education sector.

    Mrs. Cecilia Sakala Director of Standards and Curriculum presentation made at first key stakeholder workshopThe Technical Assistance component of the Education Sector Budget Support (SBS) Programme in Zambia (ZESSTA) is a 3 year, £4.6m contract which is part of a broader Sector Budget Support programme aiming to support the Government of Zambia to improve the effectiveness of its spend in Education. The Technical Assistance component is intended to accompany SBS service delivery grants to strengthen financial, HR, data and results management systems.

    CIDT Team

    Staff from CIDT who are working closely on the ZESSTA programme are:

    • Mrs. Mary Surridge who was engaged at the inception phase
    • Ms Lilla Oliver as the Core Adviser for Curriculum
    • Ms Patt Flett as the Core Adviser for research, surveys and impact evaluation.

    Curriculum development

    Technical Assistance Assignment Team membersAs Core Adviser for Curriculum Lilla has recently undertaken two assignments during the inception phase of the ZESSTA programme which have supported MESVTEE in addressing the challenges they face in curriculum roll-out by producing three costed optional scenarios (high, medium and low) for the implementation of the revised national curriculum which are designed to:

    • optimise learning outcomes and build on progress achieved thus far
    • support the identification of appropriate resources through the national budgeting process
    • provide evidence to inform the 2015 DFID Joint Annual Review (JAR)

    The assignments were undertaken by Lilla with a team of national and international specialists who worked in collaboration with MESVTEE to enable the costed options to be presented at the Joint Annual DFID Review Meeting at the end of May 2015. The MESVTEE will now select the costed options which will address the challenges they face with curriculum implementation. Lilla will return to Zambia in July to support MESVTEE in developing their costed curriculum implementation action planning framework and Patt will make her fist visit in July as Core Adviser of research, surveys and impact evaluation.

    Find out more

    You can find out more about this project in our projects portfolio.

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