Ethiopian Second National Learning Assessment

a success story
Zewdu Gebrekidan 1



Second (ESNLA)

National was

Learning conducted


in 2003/2004 academic year across the nation. It was the continuation of the Ethiopian Baseline National Learning Assessment (EBNLA) conducted in 1999/2000 academic year. The main purposes of ESNLA were to measure the achievement levels of Grade 4 and Grade 8 students based on selected subjects and to determine the major factors that affect academic achievement in our primary schools. The project was completed on time and budget, with all features more or less as specified. The major reasons for the success of the project were user involvement, top management support, clear statement of requirements, proper planning, sufficient resource allocation and competent project team members. Following are the milestones accomplished from designing the project to reporting the findings. 1. Organization and Design ESNLA was a joint venture of the National Organization for Examinations (NOE) and AED BESOII financed by USAID. The study was started by forming a National Advisory Committee (NAC) and a Technical Working Group (TWG). The NAC was composed of: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Vice Minister of General Education Manager of NOE Region Education Bureau Heads USAID Ethiopia Institute of Curriculum Development and Research (ICDR) Women’s Affair Department, MOE Plan and Project Department, MOE Education Program and Training Department, MOE

Chairman Secretary Members Member Member Member Member Member


Zewdu Gebrekidan is a senior expert at NOE and a member of the TWG he can be reached at


The TWG was composed of eight professionals from National Organization for Examinations and a technical advisor from AED/BESO-II. Members of the TWG had been carrying out the day to day activities to their level best. The activities carried out have been communicated among members on regular basis during the meetings conducted twice a week and to NAC at different occasions and during consultation meetings.

2. Instrument Development
The major tasks of instrument development started, by reviewing what has been done during EBNLA. Firstly curriculum auditing had been conducted followed by instrument development and validation. Instrument validation workshop was conducted at Nazareth and the participants were the TWG members, the subject experts from NOE and ICDR, curriculum experts and teachers from regions. This was followed by translation of the instruments in to Amharic, Afan Oromo and Tigrigna for the purpose of piloting. The TWG members left for the regions and translations were conducted with the support of region and zonal education offices at Adama, Debrebirhan and Mekele. Translation and back translation of each instrument was conducted by two subject experts or subject teachers in the presence of a TWG member in all cases.

3. Piloting of the Instruments
The pilot tests were administered in sixteen schools by drawing forty students from each grade in every school. It was carried out by TWG members. Back in the office the data were coded and item analysis was conducted. Based on the report of the item analysis good items were retained and week ones modified or totally replaced without losing their content and behavioral dimensions. This was followed by another round of translation this time in all the fourteen instructional languages used in the study. The translation process followed similar procedure and all the regions were involved under the supervision of TWG members.


4. From Piloting to the Final
While the attitude tests and the questionnaires were still under the process of development with the assistance of the external consultant. The task of finalizing the achievement tests had been underway. Preparing a camera ready copy of four subjects in fourteen languages for Grade 4 and five subjects in five languages for Grade 8 as well as attitude tests, student’s questionnaires, teacher’s questionnaires, director’s questionnaires, school checklist and focus group discussion and data collection guides was one of the most painstaking activities. With the continuous support we got from the top management and staff of NOE all these materials were printed and ready for dispatch on time.

5. Sampling and Data Collection
The sampling process was conducted with the assistance of the external consultant. The planned samples of schools were 407 distributed across the nation. A confirmation meeting was conducted with NAC members and twenty six training centers were identified. Training of trainers was conducted for route leaders prior to their departure. Center coordinators at each route were identified by the respective region. At each center a two days intensive training was conducted for the data collectors recruited mainly from Woreda Education Offices. A data collector was assigned to each grade in every sample school. A total of 576 data collectors, 26 center representatives, 13 route leaders (most of them TWG members) and 13 drivers were involved and the whole process took 15 to 20 days as planned. This was one of the most commendable activities carried by very high participation of the stakeholders.

6. Data Encoding and Cleaning
The data were encoded by twenty one data encoders at NOE under continuous follow up of the TWG members. In line with this, the printouts were cross checked with the original material by trained contract employees. Further data cleaning and validation were conducted by TWG members. As the data were being made available, a training and preliminary analysis had been conducted side by side with the assistance of the external consultant.


7. Data Analysis
All the preceding three activities overlapped with major activities of our organization and the TWG members had been overloaded. The external assistance especially on data analysis part was not as expected and the TWG members managed this through hard work and a lot of reading. This has a very great importance in terms of capacity building not only at NOE but at national level. In the process I personally have managed to handle both regular and survey data analysis statistical packages at an expert’s level. This will have paramount importance in handling projects of similar kinds in the future.

8. Report Writing and Dissemination
The report writing had been conducted in parallel with the data analysis aided by the maximum support and technical assistance from AED/BESO-II. The draft reports were commented by the stakeholders and the concerned collaborators and the final reports had been translated into five nationality languages. This study will have great importance which all stakeholders should be proud of. In fact it calls for the widely dissemination of the materials all over the country. The dissemination process was started with colorful power point presentations at a conference attended by representatives of the stakeholders. I strongly believe that this is just the beginning and the remaining milestones should be communication, communication, and communication. Lessons Learned from the Project There are many things that lead to project success. Good project management is a process of continuous improvement. It is a process of making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. It is a process of continuous study and learning. For those who cannot devote themselves to this never-ending process, there will be few successes. Most activities of ESNLA were carried out with maximum involvement of local expertise this was a major departure from what had been experienced in the past. Similarly the trainings organized by the World Bank and kindly sponsored by USAID Ethiopia had contributed a lot for the success of the project. I personally thank USAID Ethiopia and AED BESO-II for their understanding and support. I hope my expertise in the area of large scale educational studies contributes a lot not only to NOE and MOE but also to the nation at large.


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