International Day of Education: Taking stock of some evidence
Today we celebrate the International Day of Education. At One South, we have supported many projects working to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all (SDG 4). We are using today to take stock of where we are, based on some of the findings from recent research and evaluations.
Over the past two years, large proportions of children all over the world have spent significant periods of time outside of school due to school closures, and our work suggests that this has had a negative effect on learning and other quality education outcomes.
The pandemic also resulted in several barriers to quality education becoming more pronounced for children.
Our work indicates that:
In parts of Ethiopia, including areas within Arsi, South Gonder, and South Wollo, the amount of time adolescent girls spend on chores has increased
In areas within Mozambique (parts of Maputo and Gaza province), Rwanda (parts of Bugesera, Ruhango, and Kayonza) and Ghana (parts of Greater Accra, Northern, and Volta Regions) large proportions of teachers in primary schools continue to use corporal punishment to discipline children, and in some cases this has increased in the last 2 years
In parts of Maputo and Gaza Province in Mozambique, girls and boys in grade 1-3 have significantly lower literacy and numeracy proficiency levels than 2 years ago
In areas within Mozambique (parts of Maputo and Gaza province), areas within Rwanda (parts of Bugusera, Ruhango, and Kayonza) and areas within Ghana (parts of Greater Accra, Northern, and Volta Regions) a lower proportion of primary school children can be categorized as having ‘high’ self-esteem than two years ago, likely due to barriers imposed by the pandemic
In parts of Maputo and Gaza in Mozambique, teachers have become more likely to treat girls and boys in grade 1-3 unequally.
In parts of Greater Accra, Northern, and Volta Regions in Ghana, barriers associated with increased child work have become more pronounced for boys and girls in primary school.
In parts of Bugesera, Ruhango, and Kayonza in Rwanda the negative effect of economic hardship on primary school boys and girls learning outcomes has become more pronounced.
In parts of Maputo and Gaza in Mozambique, a higher proportion of boys and girls in grade 1-3 feel unsafe in school than two years ago.
In parts of Bugesera, Ruhango, and Kayonza in Rwanda barriers associated with not having access to electricity, feeling unsafe traveling to school, and having a high chore burden have become more pronounced for boys and girls in primary school.
In parts of Ghana, including areas within Greater Accra and Oti, early marriage and teenage pregnancy remain barriers to adolescent girls’ successful transition in school
In parts of Ghana, including areas within Oti and Greater Accra adolescent girls still face harassment and abuse by boys, their peers, and teachers
Through our research, we have identified several factors which support children’s learning and life skills development.
One factor has remained important during school closures, and particularly for marginalized girls: the role of parents and caregivers.
Qualitative and quantitative research conducted before the pandemic validates these findings.
Our work indicates that:
In parts of the Oti and Greater Accra regions of Ghana, having access to someone at home to help with learning supported marginalized girls’ to improve and maintain their English literacy levels between schools closing and re-opening
In parts of the Oti and Greater Accra regions of Ghana, improvements in parental and caregiver attitudes towards girls’ education supported marginalized girls’ self-esteem outcomes between schools closing and re-opening. Self-esteem (also known as self-worth) refers to the extent to which we like, accept or approve of ourselves, or how much we value ourselves. Self-esteem always involves a degree of evaluation, and we may have either a positive or a negative view of ourselves.
In parts of Arsi, South Wollo and South Gonder in Ethiopia, home environment factors such as having an adult at home to help with homework and parental attitudes towards girls’ education supported adolescent girls’ to improve their local language literacy, English literacy, and numeracy between schools closing and re-opening
It is not surprising that children’s home environments, where many spent significant amounts of time during school closures, influenced their ability to continue learning.
We encourage projects and programmes across these and other settings to consider how they can support parents and caregivers to create nurturing and stimulating home learning environments.
Several interventions in these regions have had demonstratable effects including:
Messaging and education outreach delivered through parents and caregiver groups, family hubs, and parent and caregiver associations
Community outreach activities and mobilization through community leaders, community ’champions’, and community engagement events
Messaging and education delivered to parents and caregivers through the radio, television, and other media platforms