Education Programme for Results (EPforR) is a results-based financing programme which incentivises strengthening school education systems, building capacity of government ministries, and improving education outcomes in Tanzania
Education Programme for Results (EPforR) is an innovative results-based financing programme jointly supported by UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the World Bank, the Government of Sweden (SIDA), Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) which aims at strengthening Tanzania’s education system to improve quality, equity, and access in the public education system. Unlike the traditional approach to programme financing where upfront payments are made prior to implementation, Government of Tanzania is paid against achievements on a set of clearly defined and mutually agreed results called Disbursement-linked Indicators (DLIs). The first phase of the programme ran from 2014 till 2021 and potentially made available US$514 million in performance payments (Moran et al., 2020). The second phase of the programme (EPforR II) commenced in FY 2021-22 for another five years.
Each year, the Government of Tanzania makes a claim on the progress it has made in achieving DLIs in the previous year. Since 2017, we have been independently verifying the government’s claims based on which performance payments are released by donors. In addition to verifying government performance, we actively support the strengthening of education systems by providing key recommendations that feed into improving programme planning and delivery.
Tanzania has a large and fast-growing population of 63 million, of which 43% are below the age of 15 (UNFPA, 2022). To achieve its goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2025, Tanzania will have to provide quality education to its large school-going population. This necessitates strengthening capacities and providing adequate financial resources to the education and local government ministries to bring about sustained improvements in access, quality, and equity in education.
The standard approach of providing upfront budgetary support to the education sector has not always worked well in Tanzania in achieving mutually agreed goals. Consequently, donors often finance third-party implementation agencies in efforts to improve education outcomes. But this approach has limited success in the long-term strengthening of public education systems. Thus, a results-based model provides a balance between strengthening public education systems and meeting expectations on outcomes.
EPforR in Tanzania was one of the first education programmes globally to use a ‘programme for results’ funding mechanism that provided education sector support only after a pre-agreed set of DLIs are partially or wholly achieved. This project provides an independent verification of the Government of Tanzania’s annual performance which informs donor decisions on releasing results-based financial support, as well as guides wider programmatic reforms at systems strengthening.
Our work aims to verify the evidence quality behind the government’s claimed result. The number of DLIs and their nature vary according to mutually agreed priorities between the government and donors. These DLIs could be foundational in nature i.e., certain one-time activities or programmes that lead to certain reforms in the educational planning or delivery systems. They could also be recurrent in nature, that is, they are specific educational or financial outcomes that the government seeks to achieve each year. There are two major components to the verification process:
DLI Performance Scorecards
Over the years, our approach has been to assess each DLI against multiple dimensions of quality with a clear set of scoring criteria. While the specific verification methodology varies according to the DLI, we have broadly used the specific dimensions to provide a detailed technical scorecard on performance against each DLI.
- Accuracy: we compare the government’s claim with a secondary source of data and provide a grade based on how accurately they match. For many DLIs, this secondary source is data we collect directly through school and local government surveys. We also replicate any formulas used in calculation to verify whether these results could be independently arrived at. We also analyse government finance records to verify how accurately the government has spent money it had budgeted on various components of primary and lower secondary education. This process helps the government analyse data better and improves capacities in education planning, monitoring, and evaluation.
- Completeness: we also verify whether all sources of data which the government used in making the claim was complete and grade them on the basis of gaps identified. We compare a sub-set of each data source across years and follow-up on differences to understand whether they are genuine or due to other issues. This process helps the government identify shortcomings in their data management systems and helps make quality data available in a timely manner for education planning purposes.
- Feasibility: we also undertake a feasibility assessment of relevant government education initiatives prior to their implementation. We assess whether these initiatives help promote the objectives they seek to achieve while considering existing state technical and financial capacities. In addition to grading these initiatives, we provide recommendations to mitigate implementation bottlenecks we foresee.
Communication, dissemination and learning
Once detailed verification report is prepared, we communicate key findings to donors and the government which feeds into the decision making on payments. More importantly, we also share our insights and recommendations on strengthening state capacities in education planning and programme operations. We produce DLI-specific results briefs and policy notes which promote a shared understanding of outcomes across the programme’s diverse stakeholders and supports them in formulating subsequent year DLIs.
Our verification findings have been trusted by both government and donor stakeholders and has enabled the programme to achieve a large proportion of the intended results in its first phase. For example, the quality and timeliness of data in the government’s education management information system (EMIS) has consistently improved and has had cascading effects on improving overall education planning in Tanzania. Moreover, project partners find our recommendations on improving the programme and on strengthening the overall education system relevant and have keenly acted upon them up each year to bring about improvements. Our approach has garnered wide-ranging acceptance amongst all stakeholders involved and has helped build a shared understanding of performance and collective accountability to results.