Impact Evaluation - Education for a Just Society in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/BiH with its partners, Center for Education Initiatives Step by Step (CEI) and proMENTE, with secured co-funding from Open Society Fund BiH is currently implementing the Education for a Just Society activity, aimed at changing the educational system through a holistic approach. To change the BiH school system in a holistic way, there are three essential components:
- Create a safe space for students to interact and learn from children of different ethnicities and religions.
- Work with teachers to increase their competencies in critical thinking strategies and their leadership in changing the education system.
- Through the Open Curriculum Initiative, improve the quality of learning and teaching which will create system changes.
Education for a Just Society brings together teachers and students from 18 schools throughout BiH: 6 from the Republika Srpska (RS), with majority of Serb population, 5 from communities with a majority Bosniak population, 3 with a Croat majority, and 4 communities with diverse populations. The schools have been selected to include representation from large and small communities, including rural areas. A consensus was reached to focus IMPAQ's evaluation efforts on measuring the impact of Education for a Just Society on achieving objective 1 (i.e., building trust and partnerships among students from different ethnic groups across BiH). With the data collected from the student surveys (jointly developed by CEI, proMENTE, and IMPAQ) at activity baseline (2014) and end-line (2016), the following research questions were addressed:
- Did the activity-funded extracurricular activities affect the students' interactions with children from other parts of BiH who are of different ethnicities and religions?
- Did the activity-funded extracurricular activities affect the students' attitudes towards children who are of different ethnicities and religions?
- Did the activity affect the students' perception of teachers' role in building trust and partnership among children who are of different ethnicities and religions?
Overall, we did not find any statistical significant impacts of extracurricular activities organized by the Education for a Just Society activity on student's interactions with children from other parts of BiH. Although the lack of statistical precision prevented us to make any inference, we find suggestive evidence that participating in extracurricular activities help to increase the number of friends from other part of BiH. We also find that the Education for a Just Society activity had significant effects on student's perception of school being a place to collaborate with children from other schools of BiH, with a magnitude of 8%. Moreover, the extracurricular activities increased students' perception that school is a place students are encouraged to think by themselves by over 3%, statistically significant at 5% level. The activity also increased the student's perception in teachers' role in building trust and partnership. Students are more likely to talk with teachers on how children in other part of BiH live, by almost 4.5%, statistically significant at 10% level. In addition, focusing on the group of students who actively participated in the intervention, we found suggestive empirical evidence that the Education for a Just Society strengthened the teacher's role in building trust and partnership among children of different ethnicities and religions.