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Summative Evaluation of Assuring Quality Higher Education in Sierra Leone (AQHEd-SL) SPHEIR project

Final evaluation of national project that brought together universities, policymakers, and employers across Sierra Leone to work together towards improving graduate qualifications and employability. The focus of the project was to improve HEls' capacity to offer quality education through outcome-based, student-centred learning that meets quality standards at the institutional and national level.



UKAID / University of Sierra Leone


Higher Education I Gender, Diversity & Inclusion


Evaluation I Quality Assurance I Curriculum Reform I Stakeholder Engagement I Pedagogy I Employability


Sierra Leone


UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) - formerly DFID


Concluded (2022)



_ AQHEd-SL was kicked-off in April 2018 and run till December 2021. The objective of AQHEd-SL was to achieve transformational change in the higher education (HE) system of Sierra Leone. The project has brought together seven higher education institutions across Sierra Leone, the Tertiary Education Commission as well as two local non-state and three international partners.

_ The summative evaluation was to (a) assess programmes achievements as intended outcomes linked to the AQHEd-SL and SPHEIR results framework, and (b) analyse the contribution of AQHEd-SL project processes to the programme.

_ The evaluation process was to be designed to be participatory, fostering learning and ownership among stakeholders, and to ensure that best practices and lessons learned were documented.


The summative evaluation took a utilisation-focused, participatory approach, serving several core function:

_ Participation, "buy-in", and ownership greatly increased the quality of evaluation data and results due to the fact that stakeholders understand their situation better than external actors, also allowing for a wider range of perspectives .

_ Active involvement of users greatly and emphasis on the use of the evaluation results increased the chance of usability and use of evaluation results.

_ The participatory approach made the evaluation itself a learning and capacity-building exercise beyond the framework of AQHEd-SL (commitment, ownership, and empowerment are key).


Paeradigms delivered a utilisation-focused summative evaluation that provided an analysis of outputs, outcomes and outputs across AQHEd-SL with a detailed analysis of challenges, enablers, lessons learnt and recommendations for possible future projects. To summarise, AQHEd-SL delivered on all of its intended outputs; it has partly exceeded the original plans, and it has flexibly adapted to changing circumstances whenever needed. Based on these outputs, AQHed-SL has also achieved all intended outcomes; in particular, it has resulted in:
_ Sustainable curriculum reform (CR) in terms of labour market needs and employability.
_ Sustainable and effective structures for stakeholder engagement (SE).
_ Innovation in teaching and learning methods.
_ Spread of reform ideas across (and to a certain extent also within) universities.
_ Sustainable and effective capacity and structures of quality assurance.
_ Capacity building for project management, financial reporting, and MEL.
_ Increased awareness for gender-inclusivity and diversity.


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