Evaluating ICT for education in Africa

David Hollow

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis is situated at the intersection between the three themes of education in Africa, impact assessment, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Specifically, it seeks to develop a critique of current practices regarding monitoring and evaluation of ICT for education within Africa, and explores plausible alternatives to such practices that would make the benefits of education and technology more available and structured towards the poor and marginalised.

Two participatory case studies of ICT for education programmes in Malawi and Ethiopia were used as the main empirical focus for the research. These involved working in partnership with implementing organisations, whilst simultaneously abstracting myself so as to evaluate the evaluation process and assess the underlying reasons for what was occurring. These case studies were supplemented by three international participatory workshops and a pan-Africa survey of ICT for education practitioners.

The findings from the empirical work are examined within four analytical contexts. The first of these analyses the different methodological approaches employed in the case studies and considers the limitations and opportunities encountered. The second focuses on the role of partnerships within ICT for education programmes, especially in regard to their impact in defining the nature of monitoring and evaluation processes. The third investigates the marginalising of pedagogy within many ICT for education programmes, especially in regard to educational outcomes. The fourth explores the significance of aspiration within technology related development initiatives, focussing on consequences for effective impact assessment.

The applied nature of the research emphasises the need for both critical rigour and innovative alternatives in assessing ICT for education in Africa. This thesis concludes by demonstrating the ways in which monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment can be positively reframed in the light of the research findings to emphasise process, participation, capacity enhancement, and the centrality of education.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Unwin, Tim, Supervisor
  • Loftus, Alexander, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Apr 2011
Publication statusUnpublished - 17 Dec 2010


  • Information and communications technology (ICT)
  • evaluation
  • monitoring

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