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Global Outcomes

Educational Attainment of Unbound Sponsored Members

Global outcome report, October, 2013

Program background: Unbound believes a good education is one of the most important assets one can have in trying to lift herself and her family out of poverty. It inspires confidence and creates career opportunities. It is because of this belief that Unbound maintains a strong organizational focus on education with school attendance being a requirement for the Sponsorship program for children and youth

Too often, for children and youth living on the margins, education is a luxury. Children and youth may need to leave school at a young age to help the family, providing additional income or just another pair of hands. Families living in poverty may have to sacrifice a child's education in the name of having food to eat or a roof over their heads for another day, or another month.

Through sponsorship students have the opportunity to stay in school, instead of working to help provide for their families. Unbound sponsorship continues with children and youth as long as they are working to complete their educations.

Methods and design: Unbound has been building our global data set and baseline around the educational attainment of sponsored members for the past four years. Data is collected on the number of years of education completed by children retired over a period of 12 months. Unbound has data for projects in 17 countries. The data from five projects in Asia, two projects in Central America, and three projects in South America is still being collected.

Although our future plan is to track data over time and/or find a more appropriate comparison data set, data on the national averages from theWorld Bank and Barro-Lee is currently being used to provide context.1 The data on the average educational attainment of 25-to 29-year-olds from all income levels at the country level provides a conservative comparison group. While not a perfect comparison, this group allows us to see how Unbound sponsored members' are being prepared for career and life paths and competitive positioning against their peers in their countries' job markets.

Educational Attainment

Key findings and conclusions: The data set allows for an analysis at the country and individual level. When comparing the average educational attainment of Unbound sponsored persons at a country level with their average national peer educational attainment, Unbound country averages range from 3.8 years less than their peer average to 7 years more than their peer average.

Unbound-African countries all display an average educational attainment above the educational attainment of their peer average, whereas Unbound-South American countries show educational attainment below their average peer.

When analyzed according to size, the majority of the Unbound countries representing the majority of sponsored members fall in-between three years of their corresponding national average. The Unbound countries that differ greatly from national averages (more than three years above or below peer average) are from countries with fewer sponsored members or fewer participants in this evaluation.

Contrasting the educational attainment of individual sponsored persons against their national peer average at a global level shows that 51 percent of former sponsored members in this data collection achieved more than a year of education above their corresponding peer national average. This number jumps to 59 percent when looking at female sponsored persons who have achieved more than a year of education above their female peer average. These global numbers of individual achievement compared to individual project averages suggest some Unbound country educational attainment averages may be negatively skewed by early retirements for reasons other than completion of educational pursuits.

With 24 percent of total sponsored persons within a year of their peer average, 75 percent of sponsored persons are reaching educational levels comparative to or better than their peers. Seventeen percent of sponsored females are achieving within a year of their peer average, meaning 76 percent of sponsored females are achieving levels comparative to or above their peer average.

Unbound helps sponsored persons achieve a level of education that prepares them to be in competition with their peer group for jobs and to be educated community members, parents and leaders. Sponsored members are no longer at a disadvantage educationally in their communities and, as they leave the Unbound program, are better prepared on a path out of poverty.

Lead Evaluators:
Becky Spachek, Unbound evaluation specialist
Melissa Velazquez, Unbound senior evaluation specialist