Evaluating Global Early Childhood Development Programme

We are the learning and evaluation partner for the Porticus Foundation’s Global Early Childhood Development (GECD) Programme.

Porticus Foundation’s Global Early Childhood Development (GECD) programme aims to help children, develop the core values and capabilities needed to achieve their full potential in society. The GECD programme contributes to this by investing in a growing suite of strategic partnerships that promote whole child development. The programme has a strong focus on collaboration and peer learning among partners and aims to catalyse systems change within the early childhood development (ECD) sector. We have been working with Porticus on a multi-year evaluation of the GECD programme, with a strong focus on learning to support Porticus in its mission.


While there has been a growing interest in ECD internationally, Porticus and its partners have identified four trends that may diminish the potential impact of these efforts:

  1. ECD programmes typically focus on the teaching of early literacy and numeracy, to the exclusion of other developmental domains;
  2. ECD programmes are frequently not informed by science, and instead rely on untested interventions or outmoded understandings of child development;
  3. Efforts to promote access to ECD focus on reaching as many children as possible. This approach often excludes children living in adversity, who lack access to quality ECD services; and
  4. ECD programmes that have been proven to be successful in small pilots rarely manage to scale substantially without reducing their effectiveness

In addressing these challenges, Porticus’ approach is informed by two key values:

  • First, children require holistic support in developing their values, spirituality, academic knowledge, life skills and socio-emotional learning in order to achieve their full potential in society
  • Second, any effort to provide this support is improved through collaboration; specifically, through ‘horizontal’ collaboration which connects peers, and ‘vertical’ collaboration which connects scientists and global influencers with front-line practitioners

To achieve the objectives of the GECD Programme, Porticus provides grant-funding to strategic organisations, facilitates partnerships with other foundations and promotes internal learning. As MEL partner, we are conducting an evaluation to feedback learnings to guide Porticus’ journey in the ECD space effectively.

Our approach

We are adopting a distinctive theory-based approach for this evaluation.  It focuses on testing the validity of theory of change underlying each programme component and how far it has been achieved during programme implementation.

It is important to note that this evaluation is being undertaken at a stage when the GECD programme itself is evolving. Hence, the evaluation not only focuses on how specific partnerships within the programme work in practice, but also synthesises lessons learnt from the work of Porticus’ partners to inform the design of the future phases of the GECD programme. Hence, the evaluation is predicated on an iterative, adaptive, embedded learning approach.

In the last year of the evaluation, we assess the progress of partner organisations based on the programme’s short term and long-term outcomes and overall impact of the programmes. The findings from the evaluation would help arrive at a common understanding for the design and structure of future programmes.


The last year of the evaluation focuses on examining specific short-term outcomes and synthesising lessons learnt from the work of Porticus’ diverse partners, across projects. The findings from this phase will help shape the future course of the GECD programme. Hence, we also produce a series of insights briefs – with a strong learning focus which periodically highlights key findings over the course of the evaluation.

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Areas of expertise