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Tool 5.1: Recommendations

Preparing for an Annual Review Process

There are two main recommendations to support you in preparing for engagement in the annual review process and reporting on ECE progress.

Recommendation 1

As you begin to prepare for the annual review, gather the data and background information that will inform the discussions and dialogue during the annual review meetings.

  • Which ECE data that were intended to be collected was actually collected?
  • Were ECE data disaggregated to highlight differences across equity considerations (including gender; geographical location; ethnicity; linguistic minority; disability status; socioeconomic status; disability status; status as migrants, immigrants, internally displaced persons, or refugees)?
  • Were ECE data analyzed and reported according to agreed intervals?
  • Which indicators from the operational plan (and/or annual work plan, if relevant) may most clearly contribute to reporting on indicators in the ESP’s Results Framework?
  • Which targets have been met and which have not been met?

See Table 2 in the Annex, which provides further questions to support countries prepare for analyzing the ECE subsector for the purposes of the annual review/JSR. The questions have been adapted from GPE’s JSR Guidance.

  • The Pre-primary Subsector Analysis Tool is useful for this exercise, to determine whether the ECE progress against the operational plan and results framework are effectively contributing to the functioning of the ECE subsector.
  • This qualitative analysis will help you reflect on two aspects:
    • whether there are any challenges to the implementation of the ECE strategies and activities; and
    • whether the ECE components (ECE strategies, activities, indicators and targets) need to be improved or adjusted and identify relevant course corrections.
  • The reporting on ECE in the education performance report should build on and synthesize the data and reflections on the implementation of the ECE strategies and activities to provide a good understanding of:
    • ECE progress and trends against targets and objectives;
    • Evolution of key performance indicators and progress indicators;
    • Expenditure/financial trends for the ECE subsector;
    • Critical analysis of both achievements and bottlenecks for ECE at the operational level;
    • ECE progress and results on implementation of previous JSR recommendations (if any);
    • Recommendations for addressing operational bottlenecks, adjusting activities or targets, etc.; and
    • Risks to implementation.


  • The education performance report is not only intended for education stakeholders, ECE TWG members, partners and donors. Its intent is to be made available to the entire national education community, including parents/caregivers and students. As such, presenting the ECE subsector’s performance and progress in a user-friendly and engaging manner (for example, by using graphs, tables and consumable visuals) may help reach a broader audience.


  • The reporting on ECE financial information should:
    • Include details on expenditures at the program/activity level, as covered by domestic and external funding;
    • Cover the entire review period at the national budget level – where possible, expenditures at the regional budget level should also be included;
    • Include details on allocations/expenditure for ECE against projections at national and decentralized levels;
    • If possible, include per capita expenditure disaggregated by region as a measure of equity and quality.

Recommendation 2

Ensure the ECE subsector stakeholders know about annual review processes and characteristics of such processes. This knowledge is needed to effectively engage in shaping the structure and focus of the annual review, including how the ECE subsector will be featured.

  • This is important to ensure that the review process and sessions include ECE as an area of focus – either through separate sessions or within thematic sessions.
  • The decision on the organization of review sessions is generally made by the Department of Planning in Ministries of Education, with inputs from partners (such as the local education group members, NGOS, etc.).
  • The ECE TWG will have to advocate with both the Ministry of Education and Development Partners directly supporting government planning efforts, to ensure that the ECE subsector is highlighted and given due attention in the sessions.
  • Depending on how the annual review meetings are organized, it may not be possible for all ECE TWG members to participate in these meetings. In such cases, it will be important for the ECE TWG to agree on and appoint representatives for the meetings.
  • If ECE is well-reflected in the ESP Results Framework already, this will also play a part in determining the structure for the review sessions. In short, including ECE as an area of focus throughout the annual review results from a combination of many factors, such as advocacy, leadership, political will and strategic positioning in the ESP results framework.
  • ECE stakeholders must also understand the annual review planning processes in order to ensure that the objectives and information to be reviewed for the ECE subsector are clearly identified and documented prior to the meeting/session. Please see Table 3 in the Annex. This table provides an overview of the characteristics of a JSR process and guiding questions to support the ECE TWG in preparing for it.


Table 2

ECE Questions to Guide Reporting of ECE Progress for the Annual Review such as JSR

Areas JSR Guidance Questions to Guide Analysis of Key Data Sources: ECE-Specific Questions
Household surveys and population census Quantitative and qualitative data and information can be drawn from national databases, surveys, and population census.
  1. Are there quantitative data available from school census, EMIS, national census, and/or household surveys to inform reporting against the AWP?
  2. Are there qualitative data available from diagnostic reports, analysis, annual reports etc. to inform report against the AWP?
FMIS and budget documentation Many countries maintain, or are in the process of creating, government-wide integrated financial management and information systems (FMIS). These systems maintain data on approved budget appropriations, sources of financing, budget transfers, and actual expenditures, etc. Ministries of finance usually issue in-year reports, a mid-year review, and a year-end report based on FMIS data.
  1. Is there an analysis of public expenditure to draw from in analyzing funding and spending of the ECE sub-sector?
  2. Is there actual expenditure data to compare budget and expenditure?
  3. Is there data on sources of financing (external, internal) including budget transfers?
  4. Have you consulted the Ministry of Finance annual report by sector and subsector, including Health or Social Protection which may be relevant but not noted in the Education JSR?
  5. Has the data for all the areas above been analyzed and summarized to identify patterns, trends and a description of the these and the reality?
EMIS The education management information system (EMIS) is an important source of data for education monitoring and performance reports. Time series on specific indicators particularly contribute to consistency and to providing a picture of sector strengths and weaknesses.
  1. Is the EMIS data up to date and inclusive of ECE to inform reporting against the AWP?
  2. Has the data on access, equity, efficiency, quality and governance been analyzed to inform achievement of targets in the AWP?
  3. Based on the analysis, have the gaps, challenges and changes, strengths and weaknesses been identified to inform the JSR review?
Ministry of education department report Such smaller scale reports typically include the status of all expected outputs and expenses indicated in the plan by responsible department units. They also include analysis on causes of delay, changes, inaction, and/or discrepancies with planned expenses.
  1. Are there reports on ECE curriculum implementation, family and community engagement, workforce analysis, and quality assurance?
  2. Have the reports been analyzed to inform the JSR ECE report on progress, challenges, next steps?
  3. Are the lessons identified to inform the next AWP after the JSR?
Reports of other ministries Information on education programs and budget lines may be concealed in a wide range of ministries, especially gender, nonformal education, sports, health and social affairs, civil affairs, and planning. In countries housing large numbers of refugees, there may be a separate ministry charged with refugee affairs which should also be consulted.
  1. Are ECE services (teacher training, curriculum development, quality assurance, childcare, social protection) provided by other ministries? If yes, have the reports from those Ministries been reviewed to inform the JSR report?
  2. Are individuals from these Ministries on the ECE technical working group?
Regional or local reporting Regional reporting against regional targets in ESP operational plans offers important evidence of progress on government commitments at decentralized levels by official authorities or CSOs.
  1. Are there reports from regions, provinces, counties, or districts on ECE service provision? If yes, are these reports regular?
  2. Are these reports being used to inform the AWP report on targets of the plan?
  3. Are these regions informing on the status of ECE services before and after the JSR against progress, challenges and next steps?
Partner reporting and monitoring This includes specific partner data sets, thematic performance reports, and mid-term and final evaluations. In conflict or disaster-affected situations, data may also be collected from Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs—United Nations (OCHA), UNHCR or the Education Cluster. OCHA data may be useful for analyzing displacement issues. International Organization for Migration (IOM) data may be useful for analyzing migration issues.
  1. Are there Country status reports, evaluations, or data from partners focusing on ECE? If yes, are these reports of data being used to inform the annual report against the AWP?
  2. Are there partners who are members on the ECE technical working groups?
  3. Are the partners interventions aligned with the Multi-year and annual work plan of the ESP?
  4. Is the monitoring framework and data collection process to inform update in the AWP inclusive of partners interventions?

Education in Emergencies Education Cluster

In crisis-affected and fragile situations, or settings where a crisis has just ended, the JSR can draw on information from partners within the Emergencies Education Cluster on what has worked in education in relation to strategies and interventions to promote educational access, quality of learning, and well-being among children.
  1. Has there been an emergency or protracted crisis in the last three years?
  2. If yes, were ECE services provided during the emergency? Who was providing these services? Did they adhere to the host country’s national curriculum? Did they receive support or oversight from the host government?
  3. Does the analysis of available M&E or implementation data provide lessons or insights regarding intervention strategies?
  4. Are these lessons being used to inform strategies around access, quality, and well-being?

Global commitments, subsector or thematic reports

This can include ‘deep dive’ reports during the year under review (or just previously) commissioned or undertaken by different ministries, development partners and research institutes, and CSOs, including CEDAW (United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) and SDG reports. This can help to identify root causes related to persistent challenges in student learning, dropouts, out-of-school youth, teacher absence, organizational performance, financial effectiveness, and other operational issues.
  1. Has there been a deep dive report on the ECE subsector during the year under review? If yes, are there information in these reports to inform the report against the AWP?
  2. Are there notable challenges highlighted contributing to persistent challenges in student learning, dropouts, out-of-school youth, teacher absence, organizational performance, financial effectiveness, and other operational issues?

Stakeholder interviews

Enable stakeholders, especially stakeholders outside the lead education sector ministry, to gather firsthand evidence from representatives of district/regional education offices, teachers, school principals, school management committees, parents and other caregivers, and youth networks.
  1. Is there a process of stakeholder’s engagement at both national, regional, districts and school levels prior to the JSR?
  2. Are there structured tools to facilitate stakeholder’s engagement in gathering data?
  3. Are the results from stakeholder’s engagement used to inform the report against the AWP?

Source: Joint Sector Reviews in the Education Sector (2018). A practical guide for organizing effective JSRs.

Table 3

Characteristics of the JSR and Country Examples of how the ECE Subsector May Be Reflected

  Annual joint sector review characteristics ECE sub-sector specific considerations
Purpose To assess annual progress of sector plan implementation to influence operational planning of following year(s).

The annual focus based on the purpose of hosting JSR varies from country to country. In Tanzania , ECE was a focus area in 2019 and the annual focus of the JSR was “Unlocking education progress through strong partnerships."

In 2016, Burkina Faso used the theme: “At the crossroads of education planning and monitoring education efforts.” As the focus of the JSR was on planning and monitoring education efforts across the system, ECE was integrated and considered as one part of the system in sessions.

Timing Annually or Biannually

It is important to understand the timing of the JSR to inform preparation and planning. In Cambodia, the JSR is held annually and includes both backward- and forward-looking elements (see below definitions).

The Rwanda JSR is conducted biannually, whereby one review is backward looking and the other is forward looking. 

Monitoring Focus The year under review (backward looking) and forward looking (future year)

Ensure that your key guiding question for the review are both backward looking and forward looking.

In 2017, the Liberia JSR was both backward and forward looking.  The backward looking review, which assessed progress for the year under reviewed, looked at:

  1. Implementation progress against planned activities and targets in the ESP and its action plan
  2. Implementation of recommendations from the previous year’s JSR
  3. Reviewed progress of key sector indicators as well as key reforms over previous years to facilitate discussion around relevance and recommendations
  4. Recognize Counties with high results in learning, access, equity and quality

Forward looking, it reviewed:

  1. Operational plans for the forthcoming fiscal year 2018/2019
  2. Assessed the financing arrangements, availability, government and partners commitment and funding gaps for key components of the plan
  3. Reviewed implementation modalities, coordination and harmonization
  4. Identified activities for the 2018/19 including activities that were not implemented in the previous year and those planned for the next year

In Rwanda in 2019, the JSR was only forward looking and the monitoring focus was:

  1. To present & discuss areas prioritized in the planning & budgeting process
  2. To discuss & validate the 2019/20 sector targets & related policy actions
  3. To assess the progress towards implementation of the 2018/19 policy actions
  4. To select policy-related studies to be conducted in 2019/20 fiscal year.
Scope Implementation of annual or multiyear operational plan; discussion on enabling factors and bottlenecks; financial flows (domestic and external) and management; potential remedial actions and follow-up on previous JSR recommendations. Review of the quality of the evidence base, capacity strengthening needs, and possibilities for innovative monitoring.

Ensure that the scope of the review covers:

  1. Enabling factors and bottlenecks of the ECE sub-sector; financial flows (domestic and external) and management; potential remedial actions and follow-up on previous JSR recommendations.
  2. Review of the quality of the evidence base, capacity strengthening needs, and possibilities for innovative monitoring within the ECE sub-sector.

Rwanda in 2015/16: The scope of the backward JSR included ECE and the report was evidence based. See below:

  • The number of pre-primary schools increased by 8.3% equivalent to 216 schools in 2016 from 2,618 to 2,834 in 2015 and 2016.
  • Number of students increased also by 3.5% from 183,645 in 2015 to 190,100 in 2016 in 2016 equivalent of 6,455.
  • The Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) in Pre-Primary Education has increased from 20.2% to 23.7% in 2015 and 2016. Net Enrolment Rate (NER) increased also from 14.2% to 17.2% respectively. Even though this is a substantial increase, the 2016/17 ESSP target of 29.9% and 28.0% were not achieved in 2016.
  • Moreover, the average GER in 22 poorest performing districts (defined as those districts that had a GER of less than 17% in 2014) improved from 14.1% in 2015 to 16.3% in 2016. This is in accordance with the ‘equity indicator’ recommendation from the Global Partnership of Education (GPE). The GPE stipulated that average GER in the least performing 22 districts should increase from 10% in 2014 to 17% by 2017
  • Forward looking and implementation of the multi-year plan, the priority for 2017/18 was twofold:
    • Continue to increase access and participation in pre-primary by increase infrastructure development, paying teachers’ salaries and providing capitation grant especially in rural areas for pre-primary schools.
    • Continue the implementation of new Competence Based Curricula through teacher training for pre-primary, primary and secondary, and providing teaching and learning materials.
Indicators Process and output indicators measuring the implementation of specific interventions, combined with outcome indicators whenever possible Indicators related to efforts to resolve bottlenecks, alignment around shared policy framework, participative monitoring

Ensure that the analysis includes indicators for the ECE sub-sector as noted in the ESP’s results framework.

In 2015, the Cambodia JSR focused on six thematic areas (Early Childhood Care and Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Technical and Employability Education, Non-Formal Education and Higher Education).

The indicators (input, output and outcome) specific to ECE were:

  1. % 5-year-old children attending pre-school
  2. % 4-year-old children attending ECE/pre-school
  3. % 3-year-old children attending ECE/pre-school
  4. % ECE services meeting quality standards
  5. % ECE service of 5-year learning capacity tested
  6. % children with an acceptable nutritional status
  7. % children in public pre-school who received de-worming
Inputs Annual implementation reports Quantitative and qualitative data and information from a broad spectrum of development and humanitarian partners—complementary to the annual implementation report Ensure that partners reports are consulted in preparing the JSR report for the ECE subsector. These reports can be used as complementary report to the implementation report and sometimes copies are available at the JESR for participants.
Outputs Aide-memoire Ensure that the aide memoire from the JSR includes ECE. See below Cambodia’s example of their aide memoire inclusive of ECE

Expected Outcome

Annual or multiyear operational plan adjusted based on agreed recommendations Ensure that the results from the JESR including recommendations are used to adjust the Multi-year operational plan

Source: Adapted from Joint Annual Health Sector Reviews: Why and how to organize them, WHO, 2014.

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