Over the years, the Bank and Bank-financed projects’ ability to conduct in-person supervision has become significantly hindered in Haiti. Indeed, the education sector has noticed that children are not attending schools due to dangers associated with movement, school constructions are delayed due to materials and people unable to pass through gang-controlled areas, and services to schools such as the delivery of goods and services are hindered due to generalized insecurity. Within this context, the inclusion of call centers has been extremely useful to support interventions to schools.
The Bank has been unwavering in its commitment towards providing support to Haitian Ministry of Education (MENFP) and its projects in developing robust innovative and practical monitoring and supervision strategies in order to gather timely data to inform project activities and support the delivery of interventions to schools and children.
Since 2019, the use of a call center was first developed in the Bank financed HA-L1077 project, which aimed to improve access to quality education in Haiti. Since then, the tool has been expanded into the HA-L1145, HA-J0001 and HA-L1102, all of which have large education components aimed at providing timely services in schools across Haiti. The tools objective is to gather data and information efficiently and effectively through administration of phone surveys to large groups of people. The call center is used to:
- conduct regular and frequent monitoring of project activities with project stakeholders and beneficiaries
- provide a hotline for beneficiaries to contact and communicate any questions, concerns, or grievances.
Five opportunities of the use of call center as a remote supervision tool
- Ability to reach large groups of people in different geographic locations. The call center has been utilized to ensure that project interventions reach project beneficiaries in a timely and efficient way. In 2022, the call center tool was used to reach parents of children to confirm that school feeding is not only received by the schools but that children are benefiting from it. The tool was used to call thousands of teachers to confirm they have received school kits, textbooks, and in-service trainings when expected. Over 100 school directors were reached in the span of a week in four departments to confirm that they had received tuition waivers in school bank accounts in the amounts expected.
- Ability to supervise remotely. In a context of high insecurity, COVID-19 and widespread fuel shortages that make it increasingly difficult to do on-site supervisions in project supported schools, the use of the call center allows data collection to take place efficiently and safely. For instance, all the 329 schools in the school feeding program are in vastly various geographic locations with varying degrees of accessibility. The call center tool allows the executing unit to rapidly contact the stakeholders of those schools without needing to organize complicated on the ground. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the call center remains a tool and should be used only when relevant, indeed there are situations in which a physical supervision is required and a remote tool will not suffice.
- Ability to triangulate and cross-verify information. By asking directors, teachers, and parents the same question, we can weed out misinformation and cross-verify if the information the project is receiving is correct. For instance, imagine a scenario where an NGO delivers textbooks to a school and the school director confirms she received them, however when teachers are asked, they say that the textbooks may have been delivered but they were never distributed to the children. In this scenario the tool allows to verify at various levels if the intended result of an intervention was achieved.
- Ability to collect information rapidly. If unplanned events occur, the call center allows for collecting information more rapidly than possible through in-person supervision. For instance, during the pandemic or during widespread strikes in over the last three years, the MENFP was able to conduct surveys to identify if schools had to stop operating. This information allowed, for example, for the project to immediately pivot to the use of hybrid socio-emotional support interventions during the school closures. Data collected from the call center surveys has been used to ensure that damaged food goods are replaced, that children receive tuition waivers on time, and to make decisions
- Low-cost. Importantly, the call center tool is low cost. Indeed, for the monitoring of the 2022 Bank-financed school feeding program in Haiti the call center tool cost approximately US$17,000 for a program that covers 130,000 children. This makes the cost US$7 dollars per child per year. When compared against the costs of in-person supervision monthly throughout each department of the country, coupled with the wide and rapid reach of the tool, the economic benefits are clear.
Ultimately the future of education in Haiti will make more use of data to better support it’s decisioning-making processes and responses to systemic shocks. The IDB is ready to finance these and many similar efforts. The IDB’s support to innovative monitoring and supervision tools will further support the MENFP’s ability to provide on-time responses to rapidly to emerging situations and continue to strengthen its education system.