Link Community Development

Improving the quality of education in Africa

Community Mobilisation for School Improvement

The Community Mobilisation for School Improvement project addressed the poor quality of education in rural Ethiopia. It worked with a total of 185 school communities across six woredas (Damot Gale, Bolosso Sore, Damot Pulasa, Damot Sore, Kindo Koisha and Damot Woide) and impacted on over 116,000 students.

 

 

Main Funder: DfID (Civil Society Challenge Fund)

Total funding: £831,421

Date: 2010 - 2014

The Challenge

Schools and communities struggled to effectively apply the Ministry of Education’s School Improvement Programme (SIP) policy. SIP aims to improve student performance via a cycle of data gathering, self-assessment, planning, implementation and review.  Schools and woreda offices needed support to implement SIP effectively and to mobilise communities to participate in school improvement processes. There was also a need for capacity-building to meet the gaps identified through SIP.

Project Aims

This project aimed for realisation of the right of every child in 115 rural communities to quality basic education through:

  1. Provision of technical support to SIP: supporting schools to collect and analyse detailed school performance information and then engage their community in prioritising improvement targets; training for School Improvement Committee members, PTA members and HIV/AIDS circles.
  2. Creating the space, structure and information flows for thousands of community members to come together and discuss the importance of education, and what they themselves can contribute as stakeholders towards school improvement. Attitudinal changes are the most important factor in long term educational development. Where there is a demand for quality education, the system is much more likely to deliver. 

Project Activities

This project addressed the problem of inadequate community participation in education, especially amongst the rapidly increasing rural population, through training for School Improvement Committee members (SICs were established with the introduction of SIP) and capacity building for Parent-Teacher Associations and Education and Training Boards.

The project introduced innovative platforms for community stakeholders to engage in local strategy processes, to make input into decisions about where to allocate scarce budgets, and to demand changes from local government representatives responsible for upholding these rights. At least 110 stakeholders (including representatives from the women’s association, youth association, farmers’ association, religious leaders, students and elders) attended the School Performance Appraisal Meetings (SPAM) in every community. These are groundbreaking public meetings, informed by empirical data (based on learner testing and rankings against the SIP domains), to discuss why education at that community’s school is not up to required standards. The meetings developed awareness amongst civil society organisations and the wider body of residents of the roles they can play. Furthermore, crosscutting issues such as gender and HIV/AIDS were addressed. Each community set improvement targets and developed a school plan at the SPAM. The SPAM are also held for clusters of communities (the clusters are existing structures consisting of about 5 kebeles) to aggregate strengths, weaknesses and improvement targets across several school communities.

The project also ensured more responsive policy was developed by decentralised government offices and engaged with woreda management to ensure plans are based on the voices of community members. The project ensured that grassroots plans were fully incorporated into woreda policy development. Project design was ‘bottom-up’, so that working documents at higher levels are fully informed by grassroots voices, rather than a traditional top-down process.

Headline Achievements

  • Improved flow of information about educational entitlements and access to accurate school performance data against Ministry of Education standards in 185 communities (the target of 115 schools was surpassed due to expansion to additional woredas).
  • Newsletters were prepared by the different woredas and 500 copies distributed to school directors, school governing bodies and education bureaus so that a range of stakeholders had access to information about educational performance.
  • Over 43,000 community members participated in SPAMs to develop and monitor school improvement plans covering 185 schools.
  • 185 Parent-Teacher Associations were trained and began actively observing school activities and providing feedback to the school.
  • 2,135 School Improvement Committee members were trained and made a significant contribution to the responsiveness and increased accountability of all stakeholders at school level.
  • Improved results in core subject tests leading to better Primary School Leaving Examination results: 18% increase in grade 4 results in Damot Sore woreda.
  • The effectiveness of schools increased significantly. This was evident in the overwhelming increase seen in SIP ratings (rising 5% from year to year and exceeding 60% overall) and learner test results. This contributed to the achievement of the outcome of improved quality of basic education.
  • The improved SIP ratings of the target woredas were attributed to the improved ability to implement the policy at all levels, including community members, schools and woreda officials. The Regional Education Bureau also reported a spill-over effect in that lessons learned were also implemented to some extent in other woredas. This sharing took place at zone conferences.