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CHANCE Community Schools. Adaptive Approaches to Education Conference The Role of Complementary and Non-Formal Education in International Education Development Panel 2:Complementary Education Models: An Alternative Path to Educational Opportunity

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chance community schools
CHANCE Community Schools

Adaptive Approaches to Education Conference

The Role of Complementary and Non-Formal Education in International Education Development

Panel 2:Complementary Education Models: An Alternative Path to Educational Opportunity

APRIL 11, 2008, Harvard Graduate School of Education



General Background

  • Community Schooling - A long History
  • SC working with communities across SSA for over 2 decades
  • VBS and community schools - Mali, Malawi, Ethiopia and Uganda in past decade (Also in Haiti)

General Model

  • Low-cost solution to access
  • Enrolment in grades 1–4 in remote, under-served areas
  • Financial and technical support
  • Community construction, maintenance, management
  • National or sub-national curriculum with local flexibility
  • Integrated approach to teaching and learning

Background to CHANCE

  • 1997 – Declaration of free Universal Primary Education (UPE)
  • Influx of new students – increase from 2.7 to 7.3 million
  • Extremely high pupil/teacher ratios and unprepared teachers
  • 13-18% established to be out of school nationally
  • HIV/AIDS on the increase, OVC numbers rising

Barriers to Access

  • Delivery mechanisms not responsive to rural needs
  • Many children involved in domestic chores or income generation activities due to poverty, orphan hood
  • Girls more likely to not enroll or attend- care of siblings or sick parents
  • Hidden costs-uniforms, materials, distance to school and time
  • Lack of incentives for local community involvement
  • High HIV/AIDS prevalence - fishing communities

Overall Objective

  • Increase access to quality non-formal education for vulnerable children

The Intervention

  • Focusing on making the system fit children-Flexible delivery system based on livelihood groups
  • Use government curriculum not to marginalize the children further, deliberately target hard to reach communities-pastoralist, fishing
  • Partnership with the community, District Education Office and the Ministry of Education
  • Multi-sectoral approach– Providing safety nets through adolescent reproductive sexual health, adult literacy, food Security and health activities and address the impact of HIV/AIDS
  • Active learning approaches emphasized for quality
  • Lobbying donors/government and advocating for an NFE policy

Current Status

  • 6,000 children in 45 communities are currently reached
  • 12 schools with 1,741 pupils transitioned into government system-increasing coverage, transfer of attractive NFE elements
  • 24 schools with 2,369 pupils receiving government aid under the NFE policy
  • 86% retention rate
current status continued
Current Status Continued……
  • Para-professional teacher curriculum developed with government-sustainability, recognition
  • 50 teachers on the government payroll
  • Focus moving from access to quality-explore formal sector (impact)
  • Support beyond the Classroom –Psychosocial support trainings have been conducted for teachers –Safe School Policies signed in 25 schools and Safety Improvement Teams formed and trained (formal and non formal schools)

Leveraging Support for Education

  • NFE working group established to provide a platform for dialogue
  • Provision of a designated office and technical staff to foster the consultation process
  • Relevant ministries (planning, public service etc) brought on board while district level liaison is strengthened
  • Continued feedback process/consultation with communities and local education offices
  • NFE Policy
  • Provision of an alternative mechanism to increase access and facilitate participation of children from hard-to-reach communities
  • Contextual and responding to community needs while maintaining a national level focus


  • Overwhelming demand
  • Tracking of children transitioning to secondary

Common Criticisms

  • Delivery of very basic (poor) services –stripped-down curriculum & shortened basic education cycle
  • Rhetoric of Participation
  • Benefits based on little concrete evidence, & reported by those with a vested interest
  • Cost and sustainability

Lessons Learnt

  • Communities play a very important critical role in the provision of education services-parent/caregiver involvement provides an environment for and activities that support children’s learning
  • Governments retain the mandate to provide education for all children however, requires the support and collaboration of other service providers- support is contextual depending on the existing education system
  • Providing meaningful education requires a holistic approach to address other community needs in high prevalence settings like Uganda-psychosocial support, Child Rights promotion etc
  • Impacting policy takes time

Other General Lessons

  • Costs of primary education can be drastically reduced without significantly reducing quality
  • Intrinsic motivation and incentives
  • Enormous challenges and variability in implementation and impact
  • Adaptability and flexibility offers opportunity to address changing circumstances

Thank you

Community-based schooling does ensure that more children (especially girls & other marginalized populations) get into and remain in school