Transitional Education to Improve Out-of School Children and Youth Access to Second Chance Education

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) Education Programme in collaboration with Comic Relief intend to jointly support World Education, Inc. (WEI)/ Zimbabwe to implement and conduct an action research on a non-formal transitional education model serving vulnerable, out-of-school children and youth in Zimbabwe. This will be achieved by responding to the needs of marginalised, out–of-school children and youth, strengthening mechanisms to reintegrate them into formal schools and expanding non-formal basic education opportunities for those unable to return to school.

Author

October 30th, 2012

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) Education Programme in collaboration with Comic Relief intend to jointly support World Education, Inc. (WEI)/ Zimbabwe to implement and conduct an action research on a non-formal transitional education model serving vulnerable, out-of-school children and youth in Zimbabwe. This will be achieved by responding to the needs of marginalised, out–of-school children and youth, strengthening mechanisms to reintegrate them into formal schools and expanding non-formal basic education opportunities for those unable to return to school. At the same time the project builds an evidence based model for increased investment and policy change to support second chance education for children and youth who are out of school. This project will support literacy, numeracy and development of critical thinking skills for marginalized children and youth through Community Learning Centres and Safe Parks (CLASPs) which will be managed by community-based partners, creating a broader network of support for out-of-school youth in the process.

Upon independence in 1980, the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) made efforts to address inequity in school systems and expand education to all. These efforts included implementing adult literacy programs and non-formal programs such as study groups and part-time continuing education (PTCE) classes to increase access to education for those who could not access or had dropped out of the formal system. This investment resulted in improved adult literacy rates and educational opportunities in the post-independence years. However, between 2000 and 2008, Zimbabwe experienced a socio-economic crisis characterized by massive hyper-inflation, political uncertainty and mass exodus of qualified human resources—all leading to the deterioration of the education system. The Government’s capacity to finance the education sector was severely reduced and the absence of alternative sources of financing left the education system unsupported. This situation resulted in a complex system of fees, levies and incentives which significantly disadvantage the poor's access to education services.

Most non-formal education programs were discontinued, leaving many out-of-school children and youth with no viable alternatives to continue academic education, reversing earlier gains in the sector. As a result, Zimbabwe now has a significant population of out-of-school youth who are marginalized from achieving their potential in education and employment. While the GoZ has begun to prioritize service delivery to out-of-school youth, many initiatives remain in policy stage. The GoZ launched the second phase of the Education Transition Fund (ETF II) in November 2011 to improve access to and quality of education. ETF II aims to support the continued revitalization of the education sector by building the capacity of the Ministry of Education, Sports, Art and Culture (MoESAC) and focusing on three key thematic areas as outlined in MoESAC's Strategic Investment Plan (2011); (1) School and System Governance, (2) Teaching and Learning, and (3) Second Chance Education.

WEI and other stakeholders sit in the steering committee of the second chance education cluster and WEI intends to use this intervention for accelerated learning and reintegration into schools to showcase interventions that can work at the community level with the possibility that the approach will be rolled out across the country. With support from OSISA, WEI started this intervention is 2011 and worked closely with MoESAC’s Correspondence School to adapt the correspondence curriculum to meet the needs of out of school youth and children. In collaboration with local partners, communities and schools, WEI worked with 14 centres and a total number of 1324 learners. To date, 5 % of the learners have been reintegrated into schools while the remaining are continuing with the accelerated programme. The demand for the programme is high with many children and youth on the waiting list because the programme cannot accommodate all. The programme has also accommodated the needs of those with special needs at two centres Honde Valley and Mutare. This program has drawn 51 students with special needs, and trained 6 facilitators in teaching hearing impaired learners.
This project seeks to continue with this initiative and while intensifying engagement MoESAC so that these community centres can be mainstreamed within the government programme as part of the ETF II second chance education programme.

The interventions will adopt a holistic approach to addressing issues facing children who are pushed out of the formal sector. This is achieved through engagement with communities to participate meaningfully in their children’s education and in supporting interventions for out of school youth with the goal of ultimately reducing barriers to education. An addition to the project will be an action research to advance an understanding of how a model of transitional, non-formal education can improve reintegration rates into formal school for out-of-school children and youth and improve their access to and retention in further academic and vocational opportunities.

The goal is to reintegrate as many learners as possible back into the formal system while supporting those who are not able to reintegrate with access to continuing educational opportunities critical thinking and life skills development available in the country. The project will also develop a solid evidence base to support advocacy for clearer policy focus on out-of-school children and youth; and broaden understanding of relevant and effective interventions for program implementers and service providers in Zimbabwe and beyond.

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