Posts tagged under education
The following is an excerpt from the upcoming ATM Bulletin on education. Stay tuned for the release of the new issue!
One of the more important elements of designing a pro-poor intervention in the education sector is content, i.e. deciding what to teach the children. The debate on content revolves around whether poor students should be given the same chance to excel academically as other students, or whether they should be taught lessons and skills that would allow them to improve their lives without requiring further investment in schooling.
However, not all curriculum interventions are subject to heated debate. There are cases where additional lessons are given in the form of life skills that would be generally useful for all students, but are especially important for disadvantaged groups. For example, in the field of microfinance, one of the biggest challenges that microfinance providers face is the unreliable behavior of their clients. Households in poor communities are unlikely to be financially literate, let alone financially responsible. Thus, one microfinance organization in Vientiane decided to nip the problem in the bud and teach financial literacy to children.
During our field visit to Jakarta in 2012, one of the interventions that caught our attention was the Urban Poor Consortium’s “alternative” schools for the poor in Penjaringan, North Jakarta. Below is an excerpt from the upcoming ATM Bulletin #20: Educating the Urban Poor, that discusses these schools. Enjoy!
Penjaringan district in North Jakarta is home to one of the largest and poorest slums in Jakarta. In this otherwise service-deprived slum, there are over ten small schools where poor children can experience an education for free. These schools were founded by the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC), a Jakarta-based pro-poor NGO that specializes in advocacy but also dabbles in service provision.
According to UPC, public facilities in Penjaringan, including public schools, are very rare because it is not a formal residential area. Most of the dwellings in the area are built on top of reclaimed marshland, making it extremely flood-prone and unsafe for habitation. The services that do exist are poorly maintained, as there is not much funding allocated to improving conditions in informal slums.
ATM # 20 on the state of education policies for the urban poor will be out in a few weeks’ time. Before we publish the issue, we’d like to engage in some preliminary discussions about the state of education policies in the Southeast Asian cities that we visited (Jakarta, Manila, Hanoi, Vientiane).
All of the cities we visited have had some form of free education policy for quite some time. Jakarta and Manila have had compulsory and free education for primary school level for years. Hanoi and Vientiane have heavy education subsidies for the poorest households in each neighborhood or district. Has this been enough to lift the barriers of school fees and encourage poor households to enroll their children in school?
Perhaps not quite yet.
As seen in the results of the ATM urban poverty surveys, the majority of poor households still find school fees burdensome to the household budget. From observations on the field, there are two main causes to this problem:
1. The amount subsidized by “free education” is not enough, because students still incur costs outside of tuition fees, such as books, transportation, and the opportunity cost of not working.
Our newest guest blogger Patrya Pratama is a first year MPP student at LKYSPP.
Irma (8 years old) has been much more enthusiastic about school recently. She does not want to miss school anymore, and even often goes back to school later in the afternoon for extracurricular activities or simply for reading books at the school’s small library of only 100 books. Her parents confessed that previously, Irma would rather stay at home or play with her friends because her teacher was often absent. Then, teachers from other classes would just leave the students with some tasks or exercises that Irma could not even understand. Even when her teacher was present, Irma thought that the class was really boring. But things started to change when Mr.Andrio came. He was present for class every day and even organized extracurricular activities like boy/girl scouts every Friday and extra reading classes every two days.
This week UN Habitat held the World Habitat Day “Changing cities, Building opportunities” to reflect on the state of our towns and cities. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon emphasized that global success stories can guide the future for cities facing tremendous challenges today – rapidly growing cities like Hanoi.
“From necessity springs opportunity. Better planned and better functioning cities can help guide us to the future we want: cities where everyone has adequate shelter, water, sanitation, health and other basic services; cities with good education and job prospects; cities with energy-efficient buildings and public transport systems; cities where all feel they belong.”
Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General, United Nations on October 1, 2012
The Habitat Day slogan “Changing cities, Building opportunities” aptly describes a process that Hanoi needs to go through, if it wants to avoid becoming the next disfunctional megacity. The survey our team conducted (also see last week’s blog post) among Hanoi’s urban poor shows that close to half the respondents struggle to find work opportunities in the city. The informal economy offers many different economic activities to engage in, however only a small proportion of micro-entrepreneurs manage to make their business profitable enough to escape poverty.
One of the more striking statistics associated with BRAC is that in Bangladesh alone they run over 24,000 primary schools and over 13,000 pre-primary schools. Five million children have graduated from these schools at a cost of only US$32 per child annually.
One of the main reasons that BRAC has been able to set and run more schools than many countries have, stems from their focus on keeping things simple. Faced with the realization that millions of children across Bangladesh were not receiving any formal education at all, BRAC has worked to provide a basic education to as many as possible.
BRAC primary schools only run from grades one to five. After graduating from BRAC schools fortunate students are able to shift into government-run schools and continue their education. Those who are not so fortunate have still learned valuable basic skills in reading, writing, and math. In many cases even this education is much more than anyone else in their family has received previously.