Framework for Action - Participants -Organizers
Online coverage - NGO Consultation
Latest news - Follow-up to the Dakar Forum
The opinion of EFA partners - Grassroots stories
The EFA 2000 Assessment - The findings
The regional meetings - Evaluation
Press releases - Press kit
Photo corner - Media contacts
The findings > Thematic Studies>Community Partnerships... >Part 5
  Country EFA reports
  Regional Frameworks for Action
The Impact of Innovations
Having examined the nature of community partnerships in a range of settings, it is important to turn to the impact of innovations in this domain. Consideration of durable models in conjunction with innovations permits identification of lessons for the continuing challenge to secure adequate quantity and appropriate quality of education for all.
This section considers impact under five sub-headings. It begins with recruitment and retention of pupils, which is a major part of the quantitative challenge. It then turns to the recruitment, salaries and monitoring of teachers, which are important dimensions in the qualitative challenge. The inputs of pupils and teachers, when combined with curriculum, books and other inputs, lead to outputs in the shape of academic and other aspects of educational achievement which are considered in the next section. The two remaining sections focus on equity and on political dimensions.
Recruitment, Retention and Attendance of Pupils
Clear evidence shows in many contexts that involvement of communities in the operation of schools can help in the recruitment, retention and attendance of pupils. Schools run by NGOs have their own missions to serve target populations for religious, philanthropic and other reasons; and schools run by governments are assisted in their outreach by community members on their school committees. Community members commonly have deeper understanding of the circumstances of particular families, of relationships between individuals, and of micro-politics. Also, in settings where turnover of teachers is considerable, community members on school committees may provide an important element of continuity.

These general observations may be substantiated by specific examples in different countries:

India. One model in India is the Shiksha Karmi Program in rural and remote parts of Rajasthan (Rajagopal & Sharma 1999). This initiative was launched in 1987 with the goal of revitalizing educational processes and extending outreach. The program identified and trained volunteers in village communities which had difficulty in attracting other teachers because of either remoteness or lack of educated individuals. Since 1991 the program has also opened new schools, and by 1997 it served 2,000 villages and provided schooling for 157,300 children. Every year, the persons in charge of the schools work with community members to conduct surveys of the children who are and are not attending the schools. Children are recruited, and the teachers work hard to ensure that children stay in school once they have been enrolled. Of course this is not always straightforward. Rajagopal & Sharma point out (1999, p.68) that "caste/class and village power dynamics do often come into play", with negative as well as positive consequences. However, the program has had major successes as a result of the partnerships which have been built with government, professional groups and community organizations. The program includes clearly-stated expectations of teachers and their behavior, a strong feedback system for teachers' continuous improvement, a career track for teachers, a firm belief that all children have an innate ability to learn. This philosophy and the demonstrated action have elicited a strong community response.

Bangladesh. A comparable model, which has grown much larger, is that of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC). As noted at the beginning of this study, BRAC schools serve 1.2 million children. The children are all from disadvantaged backgrounds, and most live in rural areas (Nath et al. 1999). BRAC screens entrants through careful surveys to ensure that they come from poor families who are not normally reached by the conventional system. Rugh & Bossert (1998, p.68) have stated that "BRAC's programs unquestionably lead to the increased educational participation of children in terms of enrollment, attendance, and completion".

Fiji Islands. The context and system in Fiji Islands is rather different from these models in India and Bangladesh. The model in that country is of community operation through village committees, churches, cultural organizations and other bodies of almost all primary schools in the country (Tavola 2000, p.13). The government coordinates the schools, sets guidelines and conditions for their operation, and pays the teachers; but the communities provide the land, the buildings and much of the equipment, and also enroll the pupils. Some school committees are very active not only in recruiting pupils but also in ensuring attendance.

Madagascar. Parents' Associations exist in all of Madagascar's primary schools. The associations operate as interlocutors between the schools and the communities, and help both to recruit pupils and to make schools more attractive. At the primary level, about a quarter of pupils attend private schools which receive subventions from the government. In the mid-1990s, households and communities contributed over a quarter of the costs of primary and secondary education, thus permitting a considerably greater total volume of education than would have been possible had everything relied on the state (Rahaririaka & Péano 1999). A system of contracts between government and communities launched in 1994 had an even greater impact than anticipated. Between 1994 and 1997, nationwide primary school enrollments increased by 32 per cent. This was achieved by a 21 per cent increase in ordinary schools, but a 44 per cent increase in community-partnership schools. In 1997/98, enrollments in the latter represented 37 per cent of the national total (Tilahimena 1999).

Ethiopia. Revitalization of schools has been achieved through a project which has injected funds, provided training, and raised morale. Particular attention has focused on enrollment of girls. Rowley (1999, p.18) has highlighted settings in which community leaders have fined parents 50 Birr (US$6.60) if their children do not attend school. Retention of pupils has also been increased by quality improvements.

These examples are from diverse contexts, but illustrate the general point that community partnerships commonly help significantly in the recruitment, retention and attendance of pupils.
Teachers and their Conditions of Service
The issues surrounding employment of teachers, and their conditions of service, are more complex. Again it is necessary to distinguish between schools which are primarily operated by governments but with community participation, and schools which are primarily operated by communities albeit perhaps with some government supervision and support.
In most systems which are primarily operated by governments, the authorities are anxious to retain control over recruitment, deployment, remuneration and discipline of teachers. Their chief motivation is a concern with equity in distribution of resources. In turn, this concern may be linked to issues of social cohesion and national unity. This is among the reasons why the government of Kenya merged the categories of government and self-help harambee secondary schools in the mid-1980s (Rugh & Bossert 1998). In Bhutan, the government has permitted and encouraged establishment of community schools at the junior primary level, but from the outset has retained control over teachers salaries and conditions of service (Bray 1996c); and Colombia's escuela nueva, which is explained in more detail below, is basically an alternative within rather than outside the formal state education system (McGinn 1998).
Government concern for equity sometimes leads to ambiguities and conflicts. For example, after Namibia's independence in 1990, the government placed considerable stress on community involvement in schools, in order both to foster democratic processes and to improve schools through community inputs. However, because the government felt that it had the political and moral imperative to promote equity, checks to community authority were maintained or were enacted to prevent racially- or ethnically-based hiring of teachers. Consequently, school boards were told that they had the right to choose teachers but regional officials sometimes refused to accept the communities' choices (Wolf et al. 1999, p.29). This tension between decentralization and centralization proved difficult to resolve, and seemed likely to be a continued feature.
Elsewhere, government-run education systems suffer from poor quality and inertia. This is especially obvious in parts of India, and has been graphically illustrated by the Public Report on Basic Education (PROBE). The research team reported some bright spots but also many negative ones. The PROBE report added (1999, p.57) that, aside from attracting poorly-motivated individuals, the teaching profession may actually deter those who have a genuine attraction to teaching as a pedagogical or social endeavor; and even if teachers commence their work with some motivation, many of them lose it over time.
It is in such circumstances that partnership with communities, and particularly with NGOs, seems an attractive way to revitalize education systems. India can in fact report some success in this, at least in some areas (PROBE 1999, p.106-114; Rajagopal & Sharma 1999); and parallel successes have been evident in parts of Pakistan (Baqir 1998). However, patterns are complex, and few formulae are applicable to all circumstances (Box 8).

Box 8: Patterns of Teacher-Parent Relations in India

The PROBE report (1999, pp.65-66) contained the following observations about teacher-parent relations:

Parents and teachers have a tendency to blame each other for the failures of the schooling system. This situation may sound like the death-knell of teacher-parent relations. However, some mutual criticism is quite natural in this context, and does not necessarily rule out practical cooperation. In fact, given the current state of affairs, it would be quite worrying if parents were full of praise for teachers or vice versa. Their respective demands do have a positive role to play in the improvement of the school system…

The nature of teacher-parent relations varies a great deal between different villages. In a majority of villages, there is active cooperation. In Khurd (Rajasthan), for instance, the teacher has won the appreciation of the village community for his punctuality and sense of duty, setting in motion a virtuous circle of good will. At the other extreme, there are cases of palpable tension between teachers and the parental community. This applies in Bisariya (Bihar), where parents ended up appointing a retired teacher to help in the local school, deserted by its own headteacher. Antagonism is also the norm with non-functional schools, which reflect a fundamental breakdown of the teacher-parent relation. An intermediate pattern arises when teachers are identified with specific factions within the village. This is particularly frequent in villages with sharp divisions of caste and class….

Perhaps the most common pattern is one of scant interaction between parents and teachers. Parents, even if unhappy, see little scope to influence the teachers. The latter, for their part, have little interest in active interaction with parents, or may be satisfied with selective interaction. Two-thirds of the headteachers we interviewed felt that the attitude of parents towards the school was 'helpful', but what they understood by this reflected low expectations of parental cooperation: asked to elaborate, the most frequent comment was that parents helped by sending their children to school regularly. Less than 30 per cent of the headteachers reported that they had asked for any specific help from the parents during the preceding 12 months and obtained a 'favorable' response. One both sides, inertia is the dominant attitude.

Moreover, teachers who benefit from loose administration and poor supervision of course do not welcome tighter systems of accountability through communities. They are especially resentful when they consider communities to lack the professional skills and insights necessary to make appropriate interventions. India's Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) particularly cautioned (1993, p.13) that:
The past experience indicates that the teaching community has not always been happy in its interaction with the Panchayati Raj bodies. Issues relating to recruitment and transfers seem to have created misunderstanding between these bodies and the teaching community.
With this in mind, the CABE suggested that the state would need to lay down clear guidelines with respect to various aspects of personnel management, particularly norms for posting and transfer of teachers. However, even when clear guidelines exist, potential for friction remains.
One ingredient in this potential for friction is the question of teachers' salaries. The 1980s and 1990s brought considerable advocacy of community partnership as a way to reduce teacher costs. This was a major motivation for the reform in Papua New Guinea, mentioned above, which separated elementary from primary education and made the elementary grades community-based; and it has been a major motivation for a similar reform envisaged in neighboring Vanuatu (Vanuatu 1999). In China, community-employed minban teachers have generally been paid less than their government-employed counterparts; and when salaries were raised through government subsidies and more standardized conditions of service, a new category of community-employed supplementary daike teachers emerged (China 2000, p.55). Likewise in Mali, much of the attractiveness to the government of the Kolondieba community schools project arose from the "vastly lower salaries paid to community school teachers", who received between 8 and 12 per cent of the salaries of their government counterparts (Muskin 1997, p.51). Under such circumstances, it is little surprise that at least some teachers and their unions view proposals for community partnership with suspicion, fearing that their status and conditions of service will be eroded.
However, community partnership can of course have the opposite effect of increasing the incomes of teachers. As noted above, in many settings, teachers receive contributions from their communities either in cash or in housing, food, labor or other forms. Further, teachers' unions which are concerned about employment may recognize that community partnership expands the volume of education, and thus increases the number of jobs for teachers. Yet community-run schools are much less likely to offer teachers job security. Only the best-organized communities can embark even on medium-term (let alone long-term) plans; and the financial circumstances of communities commonly fluctuate according to the initiative, enthusiasm and abilities of particular individuals who occupy leadership positions. Moncada-Davidson (1995, p.67) has pointed out that in El Salvador, the absence of job security has lowered the average quality and performance of EDUCO teachers because positions of public school personnel are considered much more attractive.
Many governments and NGOs make a special effort to appoint teachers from within local communities on the assumptions that these teachers will relate to their communities more effectively than outsiders would, and that community monitoring will keep the teachers accountable and dedicated. This has generally been demonstrated in India's Shiksha Karmi program (Rajagopal & Sharma 1999, p.59). With reference to government schools, however, researchers contributing to the PROBE report (1999, p.98) indicated that they "found no evidence that teachers posted in their own village perform better than others". Indeed, the report observed, locally-employed teachers may lack the neutrality of outsiders and be associated with particular factions within their villages (Box 8). Thus, it cannot be assumed that local recruitment of teachers is necessarily better than external recruitment.
Finally, one particular domain in which communities need inputs from government is in the training of teachers. While communities may be able to recruit and pay teachers, only the largest and best organized non-government bodies are able to provide pre-service and in-service training. In almost any model for educational provision, this domain seems to need at least some provision by the government.
Educational Achievement

One of the three volumes which synthesized the roundtable themes of the Jomtien World Conference (Fordham 1992, p.37) made a link between community partnership and educational outcomes:

Changes in the way schools are administered, especially if they make clear efforts to relate to the local community, can change perceptions about the school's interaction between the school and the community. A surprising result is that the positive ideology that is engendered is more important to educational success than the economic resources provided to the school by the community.

This type of assertion seems intuitively true. Indeed the "surprising result" is perhaps not so surprising when given further thought. Community partnership may improve the accountability and transparency of school operations, and can certainly provide support for pupils. The impact of these factors is difficult to prove empirically because many other factors affect achievement and evaluations cannot easily isolate the specific effects of community partnership. Also, researchers are not in full agreement on the best ways to define and measure educational achievement. Nevertheless, educational achievement is so important that efforts have been made to secure research evidence in a number of contexts.
One setting in which this has been investigated is Kenya's Mombasa School Improvement Programme (MSIP). Evaluation of the MSIP noted that during the life of the project, the Mombasa District results on national primary school examinations improved dramatically (Anderson & Nderitu 1999, p.118). The evaluators did not fully ascribe the improvement to the inputs of the project, but did consider the MSIP, and especially the community links, to have contributed significantly.
Elsewhere in Africa, the impact of community-school models which represent alternatives to the dominant school systems has been assessed in Mali. Muskin (1999) has evaluated the schools operated by the US-based NGO, Save the Children. The initial project design emphasized vernacular instruction and a three-year cycle which was expected to be terminal for the pupils. However, the terminal nature of this model was changed a few years after the project was launched, so that pupils could proceed to upper primary education and French-medium secondary schools. Muskin's evaluation found (p.62) that the quality of basic education provided by the project schools matched that in the government schools. Arithmetic scores were on a par; and while pupils in the community schools had lower test scores in local knowledge, their scores in reading and writing in the vernacular exceeded the French-language literacy scores of their counterparts in the government schools.
However, the Save the Children community schools project is relatively young, and has received a level of international attention and external assistance which could not be proportionately sustained if the scale were greatly increased. Moreover, close examination reveals that, despite the emphasis on communities in the name of the project, the actual nature of community involvement has been quite limited. The community management aspect consisted of construction of schools with roofs, windows and furniture provided by the donor, the composition and regular operation of a school committee, and the payment (at the equivalent of only US$6 per month) of one teacher per school for the morning session and another for the afternoon session. The limited volume of community inputs to some extent resulted from the design of the project. The schools were located in a rural area which had shown little interest in the government-run system, and one major goal of the project was to stimulate demand. With that in mind, the NGO made substantial inputs in teaching materials and equipment. Indeed Tietjen (1999, pp.70-71) commented that "the funding formula used by the Save the Children model seems to define - whether or not intentionally - the community members more as recipients than partners and owners of the school". It is thus questionable how far the academic results could be attributed to community involvement as opposed to other factors.
A similar comment may be made about the escuela nueva of Colombia, mentioned above. This model has a longer history, since it originated in a 1975 government-initiated reform which targeted rural children, used multigrade teaching, and aimed at a student-centered approach. The program was expanded, and by the early 1990s embraced 18,000 rural schools. Community inputs are chiefly in the domain of curriculum and outreach. For example, students undertake field trips which encourage appreciation of their local communities and take advantage of local resources to make students' learning more relevant. Also, the original escuela nueva design envisaged that at the beginning of the school year teachers would visit the homes of all their pupils. Comparison with conventional schools has also shown higher levels of community participation in such activities as adult education, agricultural extension, athletic competitions, health campaigns and community celebrations (Rugh & Bossert 1998, p.108). One evaluation of escuela nueva institutions which had been in existence for five years or more found that their students scored higher in third grade Spanish and mathematics, and also in fifth grade Spanish (but not mathematics) than students in the conventional system (Psacharopoulos et al. 1993). Escuela nueva students also scored higher on civic and self-esteem tests in both grades. The fact that the escuela nueva model had been implemented first in the most disadvantaged schools with fewer teachers increased the significance of the results. McGinn (1998, pp.43-46) also reported positive evaluation data. However, it is difficult strongly to ascribe positive results to community participation. The main focus of the study by Psacharopoulos et al. (1993) was multigrade teaching rather than community partnership, and McGinn (1998) indicates that links between schools and communities were in practice very varied.
Data are also available on El Salvador's EDUCO model. Jimenez & Sawada (1999, p.439) found that average scores in standardized tests of mathematics and language indicated poorer performance among EDUCO students than among their counterparts in rural traditional schools. However, they added, this was not surprising given the fact that EDUCO students came from disadvantaged backgrounds. Allowance for this fact could show that the scores of students in the two systems were equivalent. Moreover, Jimenez & Sawada did indicate (p.440) that one particular element of community participation in the EDUCO schools had a clear effect. This was the monitoring of teacher behavior by the parents and their representatives. Sawada (1999, p.29) observed that "teacher effort … in EDUCO schools with the high intensity of community participation is consistently better than in traditional schools". More active monitoring of teachers has also been reported in Nicaragua (Rivarola & Fuller 1999, p.515).
Bangladesh's BRAC model also deserves mention again. According to Nath et al. (1999, p.20), children in BRAC schools generally perform at an equivalent level to their counterparts in government schools in reading and numeracy. In life skills and writing, the BRAC students may perform better. Again, this seems to be testimony to the power of at least some types of alternative schooling. The BRAC model is especially important because, in contrast to the community schools in Mali, it has been sustained over time and has gone to scale. Again, however, the achievements may reflect the good organization of the NGO that runs BRAC rather than the specific community links of the model.
Moreover, in some settings community initiatives may lead to inferior outcomes. This is especially likely to be the case when communities recruit their own teachers but suffer severe financial constraints in doing so. Kenya's harambee secondary schools were well known to produce inferior products until the government moved to nationalize the system in the 1980s (Lillis & Ayot 1988). Questions also arise about the community-run elementary schools in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu; and community schools which multiplied in Zambia during the 1990s similarly had to struggle on very meager resource bases (Kelly 1998). These examples again stress the need for government partnership with communities, so that communities are not left entirely to struggle on their own.
In summary, when other factors are equal it seems very likely that community inputs to schools will promote learning outcomes. To supplement the studies quoted above, the finding of a 26-country study conducted under the umbrella of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement may be noted (Postlethwaite & Ross 1992, p.32). The degree of parental cooperation had the strongest link with school effectiveness among all 56 indicators selected from the 300 initially examined. Community links can improve the relevance of schooling, and school-home liaison can assist with pupils' homework, emotional stability and other important factors. However, many other important ingredients are also involved. Community partnership cannot by itself work miracles; but it is certainly important.
Equity Tensions
Community inputs of certain kinds and in certain places can of course help reduce social disparities. In general, however, community inputs by themselves are much more likely to increase disparities. Where community initiatives imply self-help, the communities which are most likely to help themselves are those which are already advantaged. Historically, recognition of this fact was among the major justifications for increasing the role of the state and for reducing the roles of communities in education. Equity issues may have many dimensions. The most obvious spatial ones are regional and rural/urban. Other dimensions are socio-economic, ethnic, racial and gender. Each deserves some comment here.
Beginning with regional differences, Kenya is one country in which at least some disadvantaged districts have remained disadvantaged because they have had low incomes in the first place and therefore found it difficult to embark on self-help (Mwiria 1990; Rugh & Bossert 1998). Similar problems have been encountered elsewhere. In China, for example, conditions along the east coast are markedly different from those in the western interior (Lewin & Wang 1994). In some societies, regional variations reflect cultural variations. In Nigeria and Tanzania, regional imbalances have less to do with the distribution of natural resources than with the fact that peoples of certain ethnic groups have stronger traditions of community organization than do others (Igwe 1988; Samoff 1990).
A variation on this problem experienced in some countries is of racial inequalities. In Zimbabwe, which during the late colonial era had suffered from racial segregation, great emphasis was placed on community financing during the 1980s as a way to generate resources and expand educational provision. However, the policy operated differentially. As recounted by Maravanyika (1995, p.12):
Schools in former white areas established Management Agreements with government. These enabled Management Committees to levy parents so that the schools could buy additional school equipment and other teaching resources or recruit additional staff to reduce the government stipulated teacher/pupil ratio which some white parents considered too high for effective teaching, or introduced specialist subjects not covered by government such as music and computing. In short Management Committees were concerned with maintaining former colonial privileges and standards.
Maravanyika pointed out that the large amounts charged by the Management Committees were generally out of the reach of the ordinary black parents, and that the method of financing perpetuated racial inequalities.
Most societies also suffer from rural-urban disparities in educational provision. The tendency is for inequalities to be compounded rather than reduced by government policies. Because it is usually more difficult to foster community initiatives in urban than in rural areas, governments commonly provide extensive resources for the urban schools while expecting the rural ones to help themselves (Lee 2000). Urban residents are less likely to identify themselves as part of tight social groups, and they are more likely to have multiple commitments which obstruct extensive participation in school affairs. However, urban communities may be able more easily to raise cash resources, and may have better educated and more articulate school-committee members.
Nevertheless, the schools operated by some types of community are more likely to be located in towns than in rural areas. The Independent Chinese Schools in Malaysia are in this category, chiefly because the Chinese communities have always been concentrated in urban areas (Tan 1988). One effect of this form of community activity, therefore, has been to extend the imbalance in facilities between rural and urban areas - a fact which has become of added significance when substantial numbers of non-Chinese families have also chosen to enroll in the schools.
Further inequalities may be socio-economic. Again, relatively prosperous groups are likely to be in a better position than impoverished groups to form partnerships with governments. Moreover schools, like other types of projects, many be vulnerable to exploitation by the better-off classes. As observed by Bhatnagar & Williams (1992, p.4):
Sometimes resources for development can be captured by local elites and used primarily for their own benefit rather than [that of] the intended beneficiaries. This happens because local elites usually have advantageous ties to national elites, because they have access to and information about resource allocation procedures, and because they can use threats and force against the disadvantaged.
This type of situation can arise in many parts of the world. It is particularly obvious in less developed societies, but may also be a feature in more developed ones.
On the other hand, governments may see community partnerships as a way to serve groups which would otherwise be beyond the authorities' reach. In Singapore, a Council on Education for Muslim Children, better known as Mendaki, was founded in 1981. Almost all its members were from the minority Malay racial group. The main rationale for founding the association was to help the Malay community catch up with the Chinese and Indians in educational performance. Mendaki receives strong government support. Part of the rationale for this was set out by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1982. "A government-run scheme," he pointed out (quoted by Tan 1995, p.344), "cannot achieve a quarter of the results of this voluntary, spontaneous effort by Malays/Muslims to help themselves". Recognizing the limits of government actions, he added:
You can better succeed because you will be more effective with Malay/Muslim parents than government officers.... You can reach them through their hearts, not just their minds. You have the motivation and the dedication and commitment. This emotional/psychological support can make a vast difference between a student who tries, fails, and tries again, and another who fails and gives up.
In this example, the government has used partnership with a community organization to reduce disparities. One irony, however, is that the Mendaki lead was followed by establishment of parallel groups for the Chinese, Indian and Eurasian groups, and disparities between the groups have to some extent been maintained.
Finally, gender inequities must be considered. Once again, patterns may be complex, for different communities may behave in different ways. In many societies, parents who are forced to make a choice are more likely to invest in the schooling of boys rather than girls (Herz et al. 1991; Odaga & Heneveld 1995; Colclough et al. 2000). This factor may be of considerable importance where community financing requires payment of fees. Also, the fact that many school committees are dominated by men may cause some issues of importance to girls to be overlooked. One response, as in India's Andhra Pradesh, has been to insist that committees have at least one female member. Another response, followed in Burkina Faso has been to encourage separate women's groups to operate alongside and in coordination with school committees to address the specific needs of girls (Coulibaly & Badini 1999). Mothers' clubs which operate separately from school committees are also an important feature in Fiji Islands (Tavola 2000).

In these types of situation, the role for governments may be to operate in partnership with community leaders to rectify imbalances (Hartwell 1998). Two specific projects may be highlighted in which governments have formed partnerships with communities and with NGOs to tackle gender imbalances:

Pakistan. In the western province of Balochistan, major strides have been achieved through a Community Support Program launched in 1990 (Bakhtiari et al. 1999; Baloch & Hussain 1999). Initially, government and other personnel believed that parents were resistant to girls' education. They have found that with the right approaches, parents and communities can be not only receptive but even enthusiastic. By 1999, over 1,300 schools had been established with enrollments of 56,000 and community partnerships which particularly served girls. Part of the key was community selection of female teachers from their own villages, and supervision of the schools by Village Education Committees. Since most of the Village Education Committees are dominated by men, many villages have established complementary Women's Village Education Committees. Many NGOs in other parts of Pakistan have comparable partnerships with the specific goal of enhancing the education of girls (see e.g. Haque 1998; Nizamani & Jamil 1999).

Egypt. In 1992, a community-school project was initiated in the deprived rural parts of Egypt's Upper Nile region (Zaalouk 1995). The project brings together the government and several NGOs, and is assisted by UNICEF. A related project received support from the Canadian International Development Agency. Both projects have targeted girls, and since 1995 they have been coordinated by an Education Innovation Committee in the Ministry of Education. According to UNICEF (1999b, p.51), "a movement is on its way, with community schools viewed as a catalyst for social change and personal transformation". By 1998, in three of the most deprived governorates nearly 200 community schools had been established. Their success in helping girls was particularly noteworthy, though boys were recruited too. rships with communities and with NGOs to tackle gender imbalances:


In summary, by themselves community self-help initiatives are likely to increase rather than decrease geographic and social disparities. This is because the groups which are already advantaged are in a better position to help themselves than are the groups which are disadvantaged. This fact can be a justification for direct government interventions for the disadvantaged groups. However, these interventions are still more likely to succeed if they take the form of partnerships with those groups. Thus while governments need to monitor their partnership schemes to ensure that scarce government resources are not chiefly being devoted to groups which are already well-endowed, they should also note that partnerships can be a powerful instrument for reaching the disadvantaged.

Box 9: Encouraging Participation by the Poor

Participation in educational activities requires energy, skills and long-term vision. These qualities are not abundant among the poor. Yet the poor are the principal unreached group in the goal of education for all.

The World Bank (1996) has considered this matter in its Participation Sourcebook, which identifies ways to increase participation in World Bank projects. One suggestion (p.147) is that the poor should be given incentives to participate. Partnership schemes can demonstrate ways in which schools and their members can reach out to serve the needs of the poor, as well as vice versa.

The Participation Sourcebook also highlights the need to understand informal community organizations. In a typical poor community, the book suggests (p.152):

Some of the most active community organizations are informal. They are not listed in any documents, and they may be unknown even to people familiar with the communities (extension agents, local development agency staff, and so forth). Learning about these groups entails visiting the communities and talking with inhabitants about the decision-making units present.

One recommended way to proceed is through simple 'institutional mapping'. Local people are asked to identify the community groups by drawing circles of differing sizes -- the larger the circle the more important and influential the institution it represents. The extent of shared decision-making among groups can be represented by how circles are placed in relation to one another: the closer together and the more overlapping, the greater the degree of interaction between the represented groups. These graphics, sometimes called "chapati diagrams", have proved effective in identifying informal groupings that are important safety nets for poorer groups and for revealing that some of the more obvious organizations are actually quite weak.

Political Dimensions
The political dimensions of community partnership are obviously considerable. First, linking back to comments made at the beginning of this study, is the large question about the role of the state in education. The 1980s and 1990s brought a significant shift in this domain worldwide (Taal 1993; Torres & Puiggrós 1995; Green 1997; Kitaev 1999), which both reflected and caused fundamental political transitions.
The notion of partnership has a generally positive tone, suggesting that the state and its partners work together in harmony. However, this is clearly not a universal pattern. Some governments feel threatened by community activity in the field of education, and some communities resent what they see as continued state dominance within partnerships.

The threats arising from community activity may be linked to inequalities of the type noted above. As pointed out by Molutsi (1993, p.118):

Partners often advance different agendas. They may emphasise local needs very much at the expense of regional and national needs. Inequality in the status of partners may also create conflict and endless disputes which could easily retard progress.

Alternatively, threats to governments may arise from a feeling of inadequacy. In Cameroon, for example, until the early 1980s Associations des Parents d'Elèves (APEs) were outlawed because in the political context they were considered potentially subversive (Boyle 1996, p.618). However, financial crisis in that country, as in other parts of the region, has required the state to accommodate APEs and even to rely on them for important supplementary funding (Tembon 1999). In some countries, APEs have grouped together to form umbrella organizations which negotiate with their governments and which are significant political forces. In these settings, the power of the state is greatly weakened by the financial constraints typical of contemporary times.
In other settings, the political threat may come not so much from parents' bodies within public schools as from independent NGOs. As noted above, Pakistan is among the countries in which NGOs working in the education sector flourished during the 1990s. This was in particularly sharp contrast to the pattern two decades earlier, for in 1972 the government nationalized all schools. In 1979 this policy was reversed, and by 1990 5,000 NGOs were said to be active in the education sector (Baqir 1998, p.178). As the decade progressed, the number of NGOs and CBOs (Community Based Organizations) continued to grow. The government welcomed the fact that they helped bear the burden of education, but was less enthusiastic about the fact that many NGOs were highly critical of government performance. The facts that some NGOs were badly run and that others were fronts for political activity gave the authorities grounds for periodic crack-downs. In turn, these measures stirred more political antagonism in some NGOs, and made the situation more complex (Mumtaz 1997, p.187).
In some countries, school committees and other community bodies may also be influenced by local and national political forces. This was a major feature of Kenya's harambee movement during the 1960s and 1970s (Anderson 1973; Hill 1991), and to some extent remains a feature in contemporary times. Writing about Fiji Islands, Tavola (2000, p.18) pointed out that "schools are political entities, and reflect the communities that they are in". She presented case studies in which factional politics, sometimes allied to racial divisions, had negatively affected schools.
Political forces have also been very evident in Cambodia, where rival politicians have considered schools to be a key instrument for extending their influence. A survey of 77 schools in 1997/98 found that 40 per cent had received school buildings from one or more politicians during the mid-1990s (Bray 1999, p.45); and in 13 per cent of cases the whole school had been named or renamed after a politician. In some instances the politicians were reported to have paid for all construction, but in other instances communities had provided counterpart resources. From a community perspective, the system provided a channel to secure resources which might otherwise have been unavailable. However, some observers viewed the situation with ambivalence. Pich, for example (1997, p.45) expressed the view that "schools are not the appropriate ground for political activities"; and the influences of political forces could be divisive as well as enabling.
Faced with such circumstances in Uganda, the government has chosen to work with external donors to create a highly centralized mechanism for allocating resources. Criteria have been made very transparent, and targeting of resources to the poorest communities has been supported by random checking. Seel (1999, p.7) reported that while such a system might sound non-participatory, district officials greatly welcomed it because the mechanism enabled them to resist undue pressures from local interests. She added (p.7) that:
Many grant recipient communities seemed genuinely surprised and delighted to receive a grant after years of neglect and were adamant that the ranking system should be continued, feeding in suggestions (for example: not giving quite such a strong weighting to schools with no classrooms as compared with those with a number of ramshackle classrooms put up by parents, since it was felt that both communities could be equally poor).
Another positive feature was that at least some politicians came to like the system. They used the ranking system to build their own political capital, in the process gaining a reputation for fairness.
Patterns in Namibia exemplify another type of situation. As noted above, one of the main challenges in post-colonial Namibia has been to achieve racial integration. Prior to Independence in 1990, Namibia had been controlled by neighboring apartheid South Africa. To some extent, the policy of the Namibian government to promote community participation in education undermined the policy of promoting equity. In some urban areas, concentrations of white parents were able to dominate school boards and then set fees which were high enough to exclude most non-white learners. Also, the power of some urban school boards, due to the sophistication and relative wealth of their members, created problems for regional offices. One school board hired an airplane to take members to the regional office in order to provide input on teacher hiring and textbook delivery decisions (Wolf et al. 1999, p.46).
Turning again to more positive experiences, harmony is most likely to exist where both (or all) partners clearly perceive benefits that can be derived from the partnership. This does not necessarily require the partners to have equal powers and inputs: in many circumstances subordinate partners may be content to be subordinate, and dominant partners may be content to be dominant. Such a situation broadly exists in Hong Kong, for example, where over 80 per cent of primary schools are operated by churches, voluntary associations and other community bodies but with financial inputs from the government which exceed 95 per cent of the total, and with corresponding control by the government over syllabuses, staffing ratios, class size, and many other dimensions (Adamson & Li 1999). The school sponsoring bodies like this system because it is stable and is mainly funded by the government; and the government likes the system because it provides links with communities while permitting overall control. The various sides operate with mutual trust, and the system has been working well for several decades (Sweeting 1995). Similar arrangements may be found in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Chad and Togo. The Senegalese government has a contract with Catholic schools under which the government pays at least 80 per cent of teachers' salaries; and in Côte d'Ivoire the government covers 60 to 70 per cent of teachers' salaries in such schools (Kitaev 1999, p.84).

Box 10: The State and Decentralization

In 1999, UNICEF's annual publication The State of the World's Children focused on education. One theme of the report concerned partnerships and the changing role of the state. The publication observed (p.66) that:

The formation of partnerships has become a central concept in planning and managing education, especially in situations were significant numbers of children are deprived of education. The State retains responsibility for setting national objectives, mobilizing resources and maintaining educational standards, while NGOs, community groups, religious bodies and commercial enterprises can all contribute, making education a more vital part of the life of the whole community.

The publication added (p.68) that:

Partnership in the service of Education for All involves all segments of society in guaranteeing child rights. For it to work, however, the State must be prepared to relinquish some of its decision-making powers to lower levels of the system.

As might be expected, the state in some countries is more willing to relinquish control than in others. And when control is relinquished, it does not have uniformly positive effects. Nevertheless, the overall sentiment about the need for a changing role of the state is widely shared.

Return to contents
[ Discussion Forum | Contact | Site map | Search this site | top ]