Ethiopian National Project: Scholastic Assistance Program – Evaluation Study

The Ethiopian National Project (ENP) was established in 2004 with the goal of helping Ethiopian-Israeli youth to fulfill their potential and increase their chances of social mobility and future integration into the labor market. The project comprises a variety of interventions, the most significant among them being the scholastic assistance program. The program has been accompanied by an in-depth evaluation since its inception. In this report we present the findings for the 2008/9 school year.

The ENP is a unique partnership between the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA), the Government of Israel, representatives of Ethiopian Jewish community organizations, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel and Keren Hayesod-UIA. This partnership is manifested in the representation of the partners in the governing bodies of the project and in the financial support for the program.

The ENP scholastic assistance program is provided to Ethiopian-Israeli students in junior high and high schools (grades 7 to 12) and is designed to improve their scholastic achievements, with a special emphasis on matriculation exams. To address these goals, the program provides interventions that provide after-school scholastic assistance as well as a range of activities focused on the emotional and social development of the participants. In addition, the program reaches out to parents to involve them in various ways. The program is implemented through the leading organizations in Israel that are involved in supplementary assistance to disadvantaged youth: The Branco-Weiss Institute, ORT-Israel, the Israel Association of Community Centers and Maksam (an Ethiopian sponsored NGO).

In addition, the ENP operates supplementary programs that focus on the support of families and expanding opportunities for meaningful after-school enrichment activities through a network of special social clubs.

In 2008/9, the scholastic assistance program was implemented in 96 schools in 24 localities and some 5,000 students participated.

The Study
The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute was asked to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the program from the start of the program and has published a series of evaluation reports. The evaluation has provided regular feedback to support the ongoing improvement of the program and regular reports on the progress in achieving the program’s goals. The current report relates to the evaluation of the program as it was implemented in 2008/9 and addresses three main aspects:

  • The implementation of the program
  • Satisfaction of the school principals and the participating students with the program and their assessment of its contribution
  • Impact of the program on the scholastic achievements of the students on the high school matriculation exams in 2008/9

In order to examine these three components, we used qualitative and quantitative study methods employing a broad range of information sources that enabled us to compare different perspectives on the program.

  • In-depth interviews and focus groups with school principals and the regular classroom teachers, key national and regional staff at the ENP, coordinators and key staff of the program at each of the schools
  • Participant observations of program activities
  • Structured telephone interviews (questionnaires) with school principals and a comparison to the interviews carried out in 2007. We interviewed 83 principals of schools where at least 10 students participated (98% response rate).
  • A self-report questionnaire completed by key staff involved in direct implementation of the program (some 73 interviews) and comparisons with the previous reports in 2007
  • Self-report questionnaires filled in by students that participated. Altogether, 1,422 students were interviewed at a sample of 41 schools and frameworks (96% response rate among the students who participated in the program.
  • The national data files of the Ministry of Education were used to examine the impact of the program on the achievements of the students on the matriculation exams.