Cambodia closed all schools in March 2020 as a preventative measure against the spread of COVID-19.
In August 2020, the GPE allocated a $7 million grant to Cambodia. The majority of this grant (61%) was allocated directly to schools through top-up block grants, increasing the school operating budget by around 12% for the academic year 2020/21.
The block grants were provided to 7,258 public primary and 1,755 lower secondary schools – in total 9,013 schools and an estimated 2.7 million students.
Montrose was contracted to assess how the utilisation of the block grants supported the achievement of the overall objective of the GPE-funded COVID-19 response and recovery programme, which was to ensure that children received relevant, quality and continuous learning in safe, protective, inclusive and more resilient learning environments.
The assessors aimed to analyse the extent to which the block grants supported schools to keep children learning, create hygienic and safe schools, and create adaptive learning environments to reduce learning loss and increase retention.
The analysis focused on the identification of enabling factors, barriers, and bottlenecks to meeting the objectives. The assessors also considered the extent to which the block grants supported the most vulnerable.
Understanding the impact of COVID-19 and school closures on different groups was vital to understanding how effective the block grants were and recommending how they should be implemented in the future to support equity in education and learning.
The analysis also assessed potential linkages to broader GPE outcomes and drew findings and recommendations that could inform future programming, policymaking, and overall use of block grants as a delivery modality.