Usawa Agenda's Theory of Change

Usawa Agenda was established to continue with the mission and vision of ensuring equity in access to quality education and learning. The Uwezo program was established on the basis that we need more than top-down reform to achieve the change that we envision. We need citizen involvement and oversight in the process. Uwezo believes that informed and motivated citizens are the most powerful agents of sustainable change. We view citizen agency as both a goal in itself and an effective means to improve service delivery and public resource management. The organizational ‘Theory of Change’ informs and underpins everything we do at Usawa Agenda; centering citizen agency in building public pressure that will then trigger actions to improve equity and quality of learning and reaction from policy makers.  There are four important stages to our theory of change.

Stage 1: Uwezo Annual Assessments Of Countrywide Learning

Uwezo establishes evidence by assessing literacy and numeracy levels for children aged 6-16 years using a large, country-wide household based sample. The assessments are carried out by citizens through a partnership with local community organizations.

Stage 2: Communicate Findings Widely And Foster Broad Public Debate

Building a solid evidence base is necessary, but usually insufficient for changes in policy and practice. Usawa Agenda believes that concerned actors – whether parents or politicians, teachers or technocrats – will do the right thing when they are compelled to do so or have a clear incentive to act. Usawa Agenda therefore places great emphasis on communication of findings; in fostering informed public understanding and debate about the situation and what can be done about it.

Stage 3: Shift From Schooling Inputs To Learning Outcomes

We anticipate that over time, the communication of actual literacy and numeracy levels will lead to a realization among the public and policymakers that schooling is not enabling children to gain skills, which in turn will lead to a greater concern with how children can learn. We envisage this happening at two levels:

i) At the community level

Having become aware of the crisis, engaged citizens (parents, children, local leaders and civil society) will take concrete steps to improve learning, either through private actions (e.g. pay more attention to homework, follow up with a teacher, pay for a tutor, change schools) or mount collective action. We do not expect all people reached to act, in most cases actions start with a few, courageous outliers first and then start to catch on.

ii) At the county and national levels

Convinced by the evidence presented or the public pressure from below or both, key actors will begin to change (e.g. through sustained coverage in the media, constituency member’s demand answers). Here Uwezo will encourage key actors to examine the evidence before undertaking a particular course of action, and seek ways to identify the policy practices that have the greatest effect.

Stage 4: Learn, Monitor And Evaluate

Flowing through Usawa Agenda’s different stages and forms of work is an emphasis on learning, and on monitoring and evaluation.  Usawa Agenda’s cycle of planning, assessment, analysis and communication provides an opportunity to learn and make adjustments where necessary. Usawa agenda acknowledges that the flow of actions from stage to stage is neither entirely predictable nor linear: it is premised on sensitive recognition and analysis of, and responsiveness to, the forms of citizen action and policy responses that are taking place.