MIT Public Service Center

Evaluating the Impact of School-Based Interventions on Child Well-Being and School Achievement in Six Communities

COUNTRY: Guatemala
LOCATION: Panajachel, Sololá, Guatemala and five other communities in the state of Sololá
DATES: July-August 2013 in the field, plus time specified below before and after fieldwork
LENGTH OF FIELD WORK: Eight weeks (plus four weeks prep before field work and four weeks at end of field work to finalize report and presentations)

PROJECT CONTEXT: Mil Milagros (A Thousand Miracles) is a Boston-based non-profit organization that was launched in 2008 to address children's nutrition and education needs in Guatemala. The organization's primary goal is to improve school attendance, learning, and sixth grade completion rates by providing children with nourishing lunches at school prepared by the children's mothers and grandmothers. According to USAID, only 40% of children complete sixth grade in Guatemala. Mil Milagros currently works with six schools/communities in the state of Sololá, serving 830 school age children (and 200 babies and young children in a related program designed to prevent malnutrition). Mil Milagros has installed a database in each school to track children's heights, weights, attendance, grade promotion, and hygiene data and has just begun working with Dr. Mary Catherine Arbour from the Center for Global Health Disparities at Harvard Medical School to refine and improve our data collection methods. Mil Milagros would like to engage an external expert to review our data collection methods, to help design a system to allow Mil Milagros to track child outcomes long-term (from Kindergarten through Grade Six and beyond - perhaps through Middle School), and to determine what impact, if any, the program - and its three primary interventions - has on getting children to attend school who might not otherwise do so.

We would like assistance in understanding if each and/or all of school-based interventions supported by Mil Milagros have the desired impact on the organization's goal of ensuring the children complete sixth grade healthy, literate and prepared to continue their education. The three primary interventions include: lunch, the provision of textbooks and schools supplies, and a school-based health and hygiene program. We also provide some teacher training. We seek both a quantitative and qualitative understanding of the three major interventions to ascertain their impact, if any, on child well-being, attendance, learning and school completion. We would also like to be able to understand how attitudes, knowledge and practices of the children, teachers and other community members have changed over the course of these interventions, and how these changes relate to student learning outcomes. We also would like to know if any of these interventions are not having a positive impact.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

  1. To what extent is Mil Milagros achieving its goals to keep children in school and graduating from sixth grade?
  2. What impact do the MM interventions have on child well-being? On the broader community?
  3. How does each of the three interventions supported by MM contribute to MM's goals - or do they? Shall MM continue to support all three interventions and/or implement other interventions?
  4. Do the interventions attract and keep children in school who otherwise might not attend school?
  5. Does MM have the proper tools and supports in place to track program impact per child? Per school? Per community?
  6. How are teachers, community volunteers, and children utilizing (or not) the resources provided by MM?
  7. How do beneficiaries such as the children, parents and teachers view the three different Mil Milagros interventions and what suggestions do they have for improvement?
  8. To what extent do the children, teachers and parents feel ownership over the program and its goals?

TASKS:


QUALIFICATIONS:

DELIVERABLE(S) AND DUE DATES:

IN-COUNTRY SUPERVISOR: Carolyn Daly
US SUPERVISOR:
Dr. MaryCatherine Arbour
This is a volunteer position for which there is no funding available from Mil Milagros.

TO APPLY:
Send cover letter and resume to Margaret Blood at mblood@milmilagros.org