|Towards Responsive Schools Supporting Better Schooling for Disadvantaged Children - Education research paper No. 38 (DFID, 2000, 270 p.)|
|SECTION III. CHILDREN AFFECTED BY CONFLICT|
analysis: Roy Trivedi, Joao Jussar, Victoria Roque, Stephen Rodber
writing: Roy Trivedi
editor: Bridget Crumpton
contributors: Kimberly Ogadhoh, Anna Fonseca, Andrew Timpson, Jane Gibreel
What are the problems for children?
Changes in Government and Education Policy
After some 16 years of war, changing world events allowed Mozambique to find peace in 1992. A classic pawn country in the cold war struggle and critical frontline state with South Africa, the end of the fighting left a devastated infrastructure, a huge unsettled population and critical skills s hortages in almost every walk of life. In terms of GDP per capita, Mozambique is the poorest country in Southern Africa (GDP/capita US$ 100 per year) with 60% of the population currently living below the absolute poverty line.
The Government elected in 1993 was led by Frelimo, who held the Presidency and a parliamentary majority. Frelimo quickly had to learn to replace its Marxist doctrines with those appropriate to the country's perilous state within the world's new socio-political arena. Big donor influence ushered in structural adjustment and decentralisation, while the free market economy gradually gained ground under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In terms of capacity and priorities, almost 20 years on since independence Mozambique found itself in a very similar position: limited capacity on the part of government and an urgent need for rebuilding both infrastructure and essential services.
A legacy of the civil war is that advances made in education provision during the 80s have largely been eroded. The expanded state primary education system has contracted due in part to heavy depopulation of rural areas but also to the targeting for attack of schools and teachers as sole representatives of the government in rural areas. Not surprisingly primary enrolment plummeted from around 75% to 40% between 1981 and 1992 and the education system continues to be dominated by serious problems of access and quality, and lack of human and material resources:
· less than 2% of children of school-going age complete 8 grades of schooling
· spending on teaching and learning materials amounts to less than US$1 per student per year and there is a critical shortage of basic text books
· teacher morale is low due to heavy workloads, poor working conditions and low and erratic salary payments
· the language of instruction remains Portuguese, the language of the elite and inaccessible to most of children.
Throughout the war years, opportunities for international agencies to support the government were limited. With peace came the priority to rehabilitate the country both to rebuild after the destruction and to provide communities with tangible evidence of improved political stability. Additional resources were urgently required to boost the government's limited capacity and international agencies were encouraged to work in partnership with the government to fill the gap and speed up the process. In education there was a major drive to rebuild and equip schools as communities began to return home and rebuild their lives. The government launched a national programme of school construction and furnishing as the focus for international assistance to the education sector. Initially there was minimal co-ordination of donor inputs but as government capacity has expanded there has been a shift in approach reflected in new initiatives for co-ordination.
Trends in Donor Policy
After the 1993 elections, donors and international NGOs had an almost free rein in the move to rebuild the physical infrastructure of essential services and the economy. The country became inundated with new organisations, all developing their own strategies for presentation to Mozambican partners. This gave rise to a number of problems common to other countries where donors make a substantial contribution to the national budget. On the one hand government setting of national priorities, such as the school construction programme, influenced the approaches and nature of support open to international agencies. However, on the other, these agencies, in particular the larger multi and bi-laterals, were able to increase their influence in the country in relation to their level of input and policy priorities. A further issue was fluidity of government policies. As a new government in the process of establishing itself, changes in government policy and priorities have been common, requiring constant review and flexibility in planning on the part of donors and International NGOs. In addition, where multi and bi-lateral donors and International NGOs have the government as a common partner, there is a tendency for confusion over the differences between how the players operate and what they can offer as development support.
Since late 1997, there have been moves to improve this situation as both the government of Mozambique and donors have given priority to making a reality of better co-ordination. The result has been the promotion of sector wide approaches to programming (SWAPS). Through 1999, these are to be tried in three sectors: education, health, agriculture and fisheries. The aim of the SWAPS is to channel the bulk of donor funding to the government at central level who will have responsibility for allocating funding to priorities in line with a national plan.
While the new approach is expected to bring many benefits, not least ensuring that International NGOs work within national priorities, there are also some risks. Perhaps the most notable is the need to ensure that the priorities of Mozambican civil society and the bulk of ordinary citizens are not overlooked as a result of a process that over-emphasises the role of the state in development. The new approach also has major implications for the funding of International NGOs who currently access funding from donors. Under the SWAP initiative, there is likely to be less direct International NGO funding in future from donors and International NGOs will be placed in the challenging position of having to work with government to create new mechanisms for International NGO funding that draw directly from government funding channels3.
The early Save the Children programme and approach
Save the Children has been working in Zambezia Province, the country's most populous region, since the 1980s. The province is one of the most fertile and agriculturally productive in the country but suffers from poor infrastructure and limited access to basic services. It has a predominantly young population and yet only approximately 30% of children of school going age attend school and of these only 30% complete the seven grades of primary education4.
Concentrating primarily on the health sector, Save the Children followed the traditional working style of the organisation throughout most of Africa: the provision of technical assistance to strengthen government capacity. Working with the Ministry of Health provided inroads to other ministries and in 1988, Save the Children started to support education activities at the request of the Provincial Directorate of Education. Initial involvement included distribution of teaching materials to schools which continued to function during the war, support to a programme of pre-school construction and equipment, and after peace was established, a new focus on special education and programmes for traumatised children.
As Save the Children diversified its activities, it began to review its working approach. During the period 1988-94, it was difficult for Save the Children to develop a clear strategy, partly because of the limited areas of work open to NGOs, but also because of the changing policies and priorities of government. The immediate post war dynamism in national reconstruction brought new opportunities for working with government which
Save the Children was well placed to explore on the basis of the relations and commitment to Zambezia Province established during the war period. Despite the rapidly changing environment in the post war years (1994 - 1998), Save the Children was able to initiate a process of internal prioritisation, giving a more strategic shape to its work in Mozambique.
The evolving Save the Children programme and approach
Alongside other agencies, Save the Children joined the national school construction programme, concentrating its efforts in Zambezia Province where over 75% of schools had been either completely or partially destroyed. Strategically it viewed this as an opportunity to strengthen relations with provincial education officials, to develop relations with local communities and to promote dialogue between the two.
At the end of 1994, Save the Children established two sub-offices in Morrumbala and Mopeia districts, both of which suffered total infrastructural destruction and years of war waged largely on civilians. The aim was to increase Save the Children involvement at community level and enable the organisation to improve its understanding of the major issues affecting children's lives. It was a difficult time to start community development programmes, on one hand because communities themselves were in flux and there was considerable community distrust of external agencies, on the other because all contacts with communities were to be established through government channels and there were high expectations that government would provide for basic services and reconstruction. During this period, the government was keen to collaborate with international agencies as a means of building up its own capacity and being seen to deliver services to communities. By 1998, it was possible to talk of a shift in the way both governments and communities perceived their roles, brought on by a more realistic understanding of the practical constraints on government and recognition of the potential of communities to complement the efforts of government and assume greater responsibility and initiative for improving their lives.
Recognising this shift in attitudes, Save the Children involved both district education officials and community leaders in participatory assessment processes to determine what communities perceived as priorities and to promote new mechanisms for interaction and learning between the two groups. Education featured high on the list of the community as a whole and as the top priority for children. Most communities wanted children and young people to gain access to either a formal education or other learning opportunities and considered provision to be the responsibility of the government5.
Through further discussion with communities and government partners a way forward was agreed:
· to concentrate on school construction and the creation of school committees to build links with and between children, communities and education officials and strengthen local structures
· to support teacher training and introduce more child-centred learning methods
· to use these initiatives as an entry point for further education and development activities such as addressing the issue of education for girls
Taken together, this would help achieve the overall goal of improving both the quality of and access to education for disadvantaged groups and enable children to achieve their basic rights to education and personal development.
The schools construction programme and creation of school committees
This programme, through its sheer visual impact, has provided an important message of permanence and investment in the future. Between 1994-98, Save the Children rehabilitated or constructed a total of 32 schools with 71 classrooms in Mopeia and Morrumbala districts. Running a double shift system, these schools have significantly increased access to schooling in the area.
Although school construction is in itself a standard international NGO activity, in Mozambique Save the Children has been able to use it as a focus for getting government officials and communities to work in collaboration. Prior to Save the Children's involvement in the project, only private companies on government contract were allowed to build schools. Once Save the Children had built up the trust of the official civil construction department and education officials, it sought to involve communities in the construction of schools in their area through the creation of school construction committees. Through this mechanism, communities started to have a greater say in how, where and who would build the schools and to take an active role in construction which led the authorities to recognise that communities can build conventionally constructed schools to a satisfactory standard. A practical spin off of community involvement in the construction of local schools is that communities tend to have a greater sense of ownership and participation in the subsequent running of the school. A drawback of this approach by which Save the Children provided payment for construction materials and work was that it created the impression that Save the Children had substantial funds available for infrastructure improvements.
On completion of the buildings, the construction committees have given way to school committees comprised of teachers, parents and local leaders. In most instances, these have started to meet regularly and to participate actively in the life of the school. Members act as the interface between parents, mediating in teacher's disputes and encouraging children to go to school. They are also beginning to solve problems that arise in relation to schooling and to recognise that they too have a responsibility for education provision. An example was observed by an Save the Children consultant who visited one of the education committees:
'The school opened this year. They face a lot of practical problems, but during meetings they find solutions to them. There is a group of children who live at the other side of the river. Normally they can cross the river, but during the floods in the rainy season, they do not come to school from January to April. The parents suggested two possible solutions: either to build a dormitory and let the children stay there during the rainy season, or to build an annex to the school on the other side of the river. Because it will be difficult to secure the dormitory, they think the best solution is that a teacher moves to the other side and that the parents there build a classroom annex6.'
Over time these committees have also provided a forum where school and increasingly other community issues can be discussed. The initiatives that have derived from this are covered under the next section.
Improving teacher training
The construction programme was complemented by a continuous programme of teacher training seminars at district level. This was developed to tackle the critical issue of what goes on in the new classrooms and how to improve teaching methods which are based on learning by rote and give little regard to what pupils actually learn and understand. The training component has concentrated on: up-grading teachers organisational and classroom skills; lesson planning and development; introducing a child-centred approach to teaching, enhancing teacher awareness of the needs of individuals and special needs groups.
A limitation of this approach is that the training programme was carried out by provincial education directorate trainers and followed the official syllabus. However, there was flexibility within it for Save the Children to incorporate topics relating to child rights focus. These have included sessions on child rights, gender, disability and HIV/AIDS and have provided valuable opportunities for breaking down adult assumptions and improving responsiveness to children's realities. The emphasis on gender stems from the fact that girls are less likely to enter and persist in school at all levels of the education system but that this disadvantage is reinforced in the early years (44% of children enrolling in primary grade one are girls of which only 39% complete to grade five nationally, falling to 37% in Zambezia7. The training sessions form part of a strategy to increase numbers of girl pupils and women teachers, and have been planned based on the reasons given by parents for the high drop out of girls, i.e. threat of sexual advances by boys and teachers, importance of their contribution to household and agriculture duties.
The approach to the HIV/AIDS issue provides a good illustration of the role an external agency can play in stimulating discussion and awareness of tough issues. Save the Children's initial attempts to raise the issue of HIV/Aids, especially in relation to children, were met with some resistance by provincial and district directorates. Sex education in government schools is a sensitive issue; it is not part of the primary school syllabus and adults generally believe that children are not sufficiently mature to understand or engage in sexual activity. However Save the Children staff felt this approach was not realistic given that most pupils in grades four and five are between thirteen and sixteen years of age and some may be starting to be sexually active. Through negotiation, it was agreed that Save the Children would initially introduce HIV/AIDS issues through a teacher training seminar, and then link this to sessions in selected schools and communities. Once children were involved in the discussion it became clear that they were aware of the issues and would benefit from greater understanding. In conversation with children during HIV/AIDS training sessions, children openly said they had witnessed family/friends die in the refugee camps from AIDS-related illnesses and knew that transmission was sexual. Subsequent research into HIV/AIDS corroborated the observation that sexual activity starts at an early age, particularly for girls, and also found that while rates of increase are high, levels of knowledge about HIV/AIDS are generally low8. A positive outcome was that Save the Children was encouraged to organise additional seminars for local government in the district capitals and HIV/AIDS and other wider issues such as gender and disability became formalised within the teacher training seminars of both districts. The exposure of children, teachers and communities to these issues led to a gradual extension of interest in the issues and requests for additional training have increased through the school committees.
Since Save the Children's initial involvement in teacher training, the Institute for Primary Teacher Training in Quelimane (IMAP) has been strengthened and now represents the best hope of improving the quality of teaching in Northern Mozambique. As a key partner within the department of primary education for teacher training projects, Save the Children is developing close collaborative links with IMAP on shared work priorities such as girl's education. This form of partnership is considered the most appropriate to ensure that NGO initiatives to work with primary age children are co-ordinated with developments in the state system and achieve maximum impact. There is however a long way to go before improvements in teaching style are reflected in the classroom and make a tangible impact to the quality of education on offer. Recent research into classroom teaching practices concludes that:
'...teaching in Mozambican primary schools is characterised by little...pupil participation in verbal exchanges or other classroom activities (the average probability is that an individual pupil will speak once every second day, most probably consisting of ready made sentences repeating the teacher or textbook, and will read aloud in the classroom on average for less than 1 minute, once in three weeks). If listening to the teacher is the dominant pupil activities, then the next one in importance is waiting.... the third is copying. The results confirm that teaching normally is routinized and demands a predominantly passive or reproductive participation by the pupils9.'
From 1995 onwards, Save the Children became increasingly aware of the need for better co-ordination amongst the growing number of organisations working in the education sector. Discussions on the advantages of creating a provincial education forum under the aegis of the Provincial Director of Education have started to bring fruit.
Decentralisation is bringing some strong players to the Provincial Directorate of Education in Zambezia (DPEZ) although budgets remain wedge-shaped with the fat end at the central level. The further one moves along the chain, the more critical the situation becomes, until you reach the extreme situation of a teacher in rural primary school fresh from secondary school with no training and no materials, nowhere to live and no payment for three months. These constraints are now widely recognised at senior levels and the Provincial five year strategy does not make light of the grave situation which gives rise to optimism for the future.
In December 1998, the Provincial Director convened a first meeting of the key players in education in Zambezia to present the draft strategy. Participants were drawn from officials from the DPEZ, including heads and teachers from schools in Quelimane, the Provincial Director of Plans and Finance, heads of three private schools in Quelimane, representatives of UNICEF, Ibis, ActionAid, Oxfam and Save the Children. The document was presented as a draft for discussion and working groups discussed key issues that were fed back in plenary. Under these new conditions, working with a government that is taking important steps to improve collaboration and co-ordination offers new scope for future partnership. How much is down to policy and how much down to the flair of the individual Director remains to be seen. Moreover to what extent this new approach will result in practical and tangible benefits for Zambezia's children will be a key test10.
Challenges for the future
Mozambique is at a critical point in its development. Within the constraints of poverty, post conflict devastation, corruption and limited skills base, the government is proactively looking at how best to engage with the international community and use external assistance to the best advantage of the development of the country. After a period of relative free-for-all which allowed donors considerable space to set the development agenda, the government is working towards exerting their sovereignty by establishing a national development plan and co-ordinating international organisations to work within this. This presents a challenge for both government and external organisations. Will government have the human resources and systems to implement the process of co-ordination? Will international organisations have the flexibility to work within a national plan and put aside their own internal processes of prioritisation and implementation?
It raises particular challenges for international NGOs like Save the Children. If they are to remain government partners alongside major donors, how will government perceive their distinctive contribution, in the case of Save the Children their child rights focus, in relation to a comparatively low financial input? How will NGOs be able to relate to and reflect the views of civil society if government comes to dominate development actions? A further challenge is how NGOs are to secure funding if they come to be perceived as competitors with government for funds under the new SWAP initiatives.
In facing these challenges, Save the Children drawing on lessons from its experience in the education sector and over the last couple of years has undertaken an extensive review of the effectiveness of its approach and strategies in Mozambique11. This confirmed that Save the Children was slow to move from a more traditional style of support to government and seek out complementary opportunities for working with communities and playing a linking role between different levels of government and the communities they serve. For Save the Children to make a more significant contribution in education, it identified the need to develop a longer-term strategy and greater prioritisation of its inputs to improve the quality of education which remains the dominant problem as access is extending12. Within the framework of the national policy context, Save the Children has consolidated its education programme and, as multi and bilateral donors have started to focus on school construction, is taking a more active role in promoting dialogue between communities and education officials.
SCF is now actively exploring ways of contributing to improvements in the quality of education by helping service providers, institutions and official structures involved in education provision to acquire a better understanding of the conditions of children's lives and adapt education programmes accordingly. This is being achieved in various ways:
· strengthening planning mechanisms within the Provincial Directorate of Education and at district levels
· improving co-ordination between the Provincial Education Department and agencies involved in supporting work on education in the province
· strengthening the school committees and links between schools, local communities and education officials
· strengthening teacher training through IMAP and other key partners with an emphasis on increasing understanding about children's rights
· undertaking micro research to provide education providers with more detailed information about issues of specific interest e.g. the work schedules, priorities and aspirations of girls and boys, why proportionately less girls attend school than boys etc.
As an international NGO that is working increasingly with government and communities, Save the Children has identified three ways in which it believes it can make a distinctive contribution:
· Play an active role in strengthening emerging co-ordination processes and provide a conduit for information exchange between officials working at the central, provincial and district levels and between officials, local communities and school users.
· Build appropriate advocacy strategies on the basis of its practical programming experience. For example the work on promoting girls' education has been supported by a range of interventions with communities, teachers and district and provincial education departments and offers scope for more systematic and concerted advocacy initiatives.
· Promote exposure to external education experiences and current thinking on education and methods. This is especially important for a country that, through conflict, has been relatively isolated from the outside world and new developments. This exposure needs to extend to all level of stakeholders, from Save the Children's own staff to government officials and communities. Save the Children can build on its experience and connections in other countries to arrange exchange visits, secondments, trainings and other forms of learning that offer opportunities for gainingrelevant practical knowledge from other contexts. In addition, Save the Children have recently appointed a regional education advisor (based initially in Mozambique) who will travel between programmes in the region with a remit to maximise learning and training around existing education activities in the Southern African region. Other initiatives will include documenting learning which can be shared more widely in country and externally, and developing closer links with other organisations involved in supporting the education sector.
What has been learnt?
The Mozambique case study highlights a number of important points about how an International NGO can work with government and how its working style can evolve in relation to internal and external changes to achieve improvements in the responsiveness of education to children's realities.
Working with government: the importance of commitment and trust
Relations of trust can only be developed over time and are essential in developing meaningful partnership. Evidence of long-term commitment therefore becomes a key factor in building up trust especially in conditions of conflict. Save the Children's initial programme of technical support to provincial government in the health sector continued and diversified during the war years. This involvement provided a sound basis for Save the Children to extend its activities into the education sector, take an active role in reconstruction programmes and initiate dialogue with different levels of education officials on the benefits of involving community and children in the design and delivery of education
Support to government programmes as a catalyst for promoting community participation
Through support to the national programme of school construction, Save the Children was able to utilise the opportunity to explore ways of promoting wider community involvement in the programme and encouraging government officials to recognise the value of community and child involvement in making education provision more responsive to their needs.
On-going review of the national policy environment and adapting working strategies
In common with other post-conflict situations, the initial period of rehabilitation and reconstruction in Mozambique was characterised by regular changes in national policy as the government established itself and its development priorities. To be an effective partner in the education sector, Save the Children needed to monitor and review policies, identifying the constraints and opportunities which they offered and to assume a flexible and responsive approach in relation to its strategies for supporting the role of government and communities in education provision. A key lesson for Save the Children in analysing its experience in Mozambique is that the context in which programmes are implemented has a huge influence in the nature and type of programming choices available. Equally, the kinds of internal choices that organisations make about the programmes they wish to support are at least as important in determining the impact and effectiveness of a programme. In reviewing its contribution to the education sector over a ten year period, Save the Children has identified the importance of looking not only at what it has chosen to support, but, in making that choice, reflecting on what it has chosen not to do.
Making links between users and providers
In the future Save the Children plans to concentrate its efforts more actively in this area. Initial experience in promoting information exchange, dialogue and understanding between different levels of government and between government and communities and children has demonstrated scope for strengthening these connections to help make education services more responsive to children's realities.
The working style of an international NGO
Save the Children's experience in Mozambique highlights the importance of flexibility in programming in order to be aware of the changing context, and to identify and support the actors that are best placed to improve education provision.
Building on its existing programme, Save the Children worked closely with national and local government in order to strengthen its capacity to provide basic education through financial support and the development of human resources. It facilitated links between government and community in order to identify educational needs and review roles and responsibilities in provision. As opportunities have arisen, Save the Children has experimented with ways of encouraging greater participation of community and children in this process.
Through its involvement in training programmes Save the Children has had a catalytic role in introducing child centred methodologies in order to improve the quality of basic education. At the same time, it has been possible to ensure the inclusion and tackling of other priority issues identified by Save the Children, including HIV/AIDS education, access of girls to education, disability awareness and responsiveness to special needs.
Save the Children's role as an international NGO has been important in the process of supporting improved education provision in post-war Mozambique, allowing it to draw on broad educational experience in different contexts, introducing methods such as participatory working approaches, and promoting connections and information sharing nationally and internationally, between government, community, donors and similar programmes in other countries.
· The case study empasises the dangers of an outside agency prioritising partnership with government in the absence of a clear independent strategy.
· A costly school-building programme was undertaken, but with little impact on quality; this contrasts with the low-cost, high-impact innovations demonstrated in other contexts (such as in the Ethiopia case).
· Despite limited impact (covering 32 schools in two districts over five years), this approach raised expectations among local communities that the agency could not meet on an ongoing basis.
· However, the ownership of the schools-building programme by the school construction committees was a strong basis for later community participation in running schools, through school committees of teachers, parents and community leaders.
· Although teacher training has been identified as a priority to improve teaching quality, impact has so far been elusive with persistent traditional patterns of children being expected to listen, wait and copy.
· Learning from this, Save the Children has now developed clearer priorities to facilitate the authorities' understanding of the conditions of children's lives, and to adapt education programmes in response. This role will include strengthening planning and co-ordination, supporting school committees and information exchanges, as well as further investment in teacher training and research linked to advocacy.
· The government's new national education plans emphasise the role of the state. It will be important to balance this with advocacy to strengthen the role of communities in running their own schools.
The primary source for the case study is: Trivedi, R, 1998. 'Building Linkages between Peoples and Systems - Lessons from Save the Children's support for education work in Mozambique'. Internal paper, Save the Children
1 Economist, October 3 1998
2 Graham-Brown, S, 1996. Education in the developing world - conflict and crisis, Longman, London and New York
3 Rodber, S, Trivedy, R, 1999. 'Background Note on Working with Government in the Education Sector in Mozambique'. Internal Paper, Save the Children
4 Johannessen, E, 1998. 'Mais Escolas e Melhores Para Todos,' (More and Better Schools for All). Internal report, Save the Children
5 Owen, D., B, Pijenburg, 1998. 'Report on Participatory Rural Appraisals in Mocha, Cocorico, Cumbabo and Calico, Morrumbala and Mopeia Districts, Zambezia'. Internal Report, Save the Children
6 Johannessen, 1998
7 Government of Mozambique, 1997. Source Piano Estrategico No Sector Da Educacao 1997-2001. Combater A Exclusao Renovar A Escola, (Strategic Plan for the Education Sector. Fighting Exclusion, Renovating Schools). Government of Mozambique
8 Griffith, S, 1998. 'HIV and AIDS in Mozambique'. Internal report, Save the Children
9 Palme, M, 1995. Being Respected but Teaching Hieroglyphs: Addressing the Question of the Primary School Teacher, School Culture and Local Community in Rural Mozambique. Stockholm Institute of Education, Sweden.
10 Rodber and Trivedy, 1999
11 Johannessen, 1998
12 Johannessen, 1998