Evaluation of Sustained Outcomes in Basic Education
USAID has increasingly focused on the importance of local systems as the linchpin of sustainability. This evaluation, using an ex-post comparative case study design, is intended to help USAID better understand the programmatic and contextual factors that contribute to sustained outcomes from international development interventions.
The evaluation examined four cases of USAID basic education activities implemented in Ghana, Namibia, South Africa, and Uganda. Each activity was completed between 2000 and 2010. Case study teams conducted primary research to understand how local systems contributed to outcome sustainment, using tools and processes were designed to capture how relationships and perceptions drive behavior in complex systems. The evaluation analyzed data at the case study level and across cases using qualitative and inductive methods.
The evaluation found that while various factors influenced what remained in these four countries, the main influencing factors appeared to be: (1) building of momentum of results over time, (2) the timing of the intervention, and (3) the role played by the host national government, including the policy environment and political will. In cases where outcomes were sustained, the national government had made shifts in its education system that required support, and USAID was invited to participate in that national government process in a specific role and for a specific reason. As key actors, national governments brought legitimacy and control, and influenced the motivation of other key actors during the USAID activity.