In a context of new ways of work, digital innovation, and within an increasingly competitive knowledge economy, the countries of the Western Balkans are currently making efforts to improve their human capital resources. Promoting and fostering a competitive digital economy is now a top priority for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, and the role of education in providing the skills needed to achieve these aims is an essential precondition. As recognised by many international organisations and skills’ forecasts, critical thinking and problem solving, and IT skills are the skills that will be most in demand in the labour market in the future.
It is in this context that the British Council launched an ambitious Programme in 2018 to provide training to primary school pupils in the Western Balkans countries, in order to enhance their digital literacy and core transversal skills and help them take advantage of the new opportunities opening up in the digital economy.
The British Council 21st Century Programme included a package of funding provision and capacity building activities across the countries of the Western Balkans. It had a budget of £10m and conducted over more than three and a half years and six training cycles from 2019 to 2022. The key aim of the Programme was to provide training activities to school leaders and teachers in critical thinking and problem solving (CTPS) and the application of IT skills, namely coding and programming using Micro:bit hardware provided by the UK government. The Programme also provided teachers with guidebooks, manuals and teaching materials.
This synthesis evaluation report presents the results of the comparative analysis; namely it focuses on the changes that happened during the implementation of the Programme by comparing the results of a baseline and an endline survey. Its aim is to measure the outcomes and outputs of the Programme, as set out in the Evaluation Plan based on the assumptions that underpinned the Programme Theory of Change. The purpose is to evaluate the effects of the Programme activities - related to the role of policymakers, school leaders, teachers, and pupils - on the Programme Outcomes and Outputs. These achievements are evaluated based on a set of Relevance, Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Sustainability criteria.