From Cambodia to Ethiopia: experiences with M&E frameworks

  By Mariela Buonomo and Amelie Gagnon


The merits of monitoring and evaluation are clear. With proper use, such frameworks can help guide plan implementation and instil change in an education system.

An effective monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework can significantly contribute to change in an education system. For this to happen the framework needs to go beyond the surface and not just be a tool for control or reporting. Monitoring and evaluating a plan is important to guide plan implementation, but also to create accountability for results and, even more, to learn and improve policy and practice. 

M&E is a form of organizational learning that implies intensive interaction and communication between the staff of the different units. Ultimately, those involved in a plan not only want its actions to be executed, but to instil change in the system and achieve the policy goals that it sets forth.

More specifically, an M&E framework ensures that there is: 

  • A common reference to identify what are the changes wanted (results),
  • Agreement on how change is expected to happen, and under which assumptions (results chain),
  • A clear measurement methodology for this change over time (indicators, data collection and a processing system),
  • Agreed principles on how to interpret status and movement towards change,
  • A well-defined organizational structure and reporting processes,
  • A timeframe to evaluate what strategies work, which don’t and why, so that interventions become better (e.g. annual, midterm review and final evaluation).

Too often, the accent of the actual practice of M&E is on reporting and not so much on evaluating the strategies implemented or how successful they have been in attaining the outcomes expected and the reasons behind the achievements or lack thereof. Countries tend to focus on the ‘M’ and not so much on the ‘E’ of the M&E framework.  

Moreover, the assessments only occasionally feed into the decision-making process and therefore are not used to improve policies and practices. This is partly related to the insufficient capacities of staff in charge of M&E regarding the evaluation of education policies and the use of these studies for policymaking.

A robust results framework is a powerful management tool to guide education sector planning and implementation. Results frameworks include two key components: a results chain that describe the logical cause-and-effect pathways between activities and their expected results, and a results matrix, which provides an overview of the performance indicators that will track progress on the effects of implementation.

The absence of a results framework can lead to partial monitoring and loss of coordination in the implementation of sector activities, especially when the direct relationships between each and every programme activity, outputs and outcomes is not clearly established. 


For the past year, IIEP has been supporting the Federal ministry of education of Ethiopia, and the Regional Education Bureaus of four Ethiopian Regions in order to develop results frameworks for their respective Education Sector Development Program V (ESDP V). In turn, the regions, as well as the federal level, aim to integrate these results frameworks into regular monitoring and planning processes, therefore facilitating annual reporting, mid-term reviews, and final evaluation. These are opportunities to take stock of the progress made, and make sure that the implementation of the plan is going in the right direction. These activities took place as a set of professional development opportunities and working sessions, with the support of UNICEF-Ethiopia.


The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) of Cambodia has recently completed the M&E framework to monitor the implementation of its ongoing Education Sector Plan (ESP). This framework describes the roles and responsibilities of the different departments and levels of the education system concerning M&E activities, as well as the different reports that are to be produced at the various levels. As part of its twinning program with the MoEYS of Cambodia, IIEP cooperates with the Directorate General of Policy and Planning to improve the processes and reviews that are part of this M&E framework. 

One of the areas of collaboration has been the development of the Midterm Review of the ESP. This review, done through a consultative process with subsectors, development partners and other stakeholders, led to the revision of the ongoing ESP and a strengthening of several reforms, including upgrading teacher qualifications and improving teaching practices. 

Current support focuses on refining different monitoring tools, such as those used in annual performance monitoring, as well as enhancing the relevance and deepening the analysis in the reports produced by the Directorate General, so that they are of more use to policy reform.


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