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Pathways to Sustainability for Community-Based Education in Afghanistan

Mon, March 26, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hilton Reforma, Floor: 4th Floor, Doña Adelita

Group Submission Type: Panel Session


This panel features a unique government-academic-practitioner partnership designed to present and explore different approaches to the sustainability of community-based education (CBE) in Afghanistan. Presentations will directly highlight current education policy, research, and programming that align with current development and education priorities of the government of Afghanistan.

Approximately 75% of the Afghan population lives in rural and marginalized areas of the country and access to formal government schools is out of reach for many school-age children. Furthermore, girls are particularly disadvantaged because of increased security concerns or lack of adequate facilities. Community-based education is now a well-established response to these circumstances in order to increase access to education and improve learning outcomes of children. Research conducted in six provinces across Afghanistan in 2015 demonstrates that the presence of a CBE class effectively increases student attendance by 13.9 percentage points (16 pp for girls, 11.7 pp for boys) and that students’ learning outcomes increase by .28 standard deviations (.30 SD for girls, .27 SD for boys) (Burde, Middleton, and Samii 2016). Research findings and quality CBE programming have led to the expansion of CBE services to over 400,000 children currently throughout the country, with the majority of CBE classes operated and funded by international NGOs.

Sustainability of successful NGO-sponsored programs, however, is a challenge in many countries around the world. Similarly in Afghanistan despite the dramatic positive effects of CBE on children’s educational access and learning outcomes, sustainability of CBE remains elusive after NGO programming concludes. How can CBE classes be sustained and continue to solidify education gains for children across Afghanistan? To date, a fully successful sustainability plan has not been identified. A 2014 study examined sustained access to education four years after the conclusion of a large-scale NGO CBE program (Burde et al. 2015). The research was conducted in 209 villages that had received CBE classes in two provinces. In 95 of the villages (45%), insecurity prevented classes from continuing. But even among the 114 “safe” villages, only 48 still had access to primary education in their village as of 2014. That amounts to 42% of secure villages—and so, less than half of villages even in the “best case” scenario—or 23% overall. Thus, for the majority of the villages in the study, access to school reverted back to conditions resembling those prior to the arrival of the CBE program.

This panel includes three presentations that examine varying approaches to CBE sustainability. First, a representative from the Afghan Ministry of Education will present past practices of CBE, recent education policy, and the Ministry’s approach to CBE sustainability. Second, NYU ALSE will present its work on the community-managed approach of CBE. NYU will present the experiment design based on current Afghan policy and baseline data on community capacity to manage education at the village level. Third, CRS, an international NGO implementing CBE programming, will present its current focus on bridging the gaps of CBE sustainability by focusing on CBE teacher training, providing channels for remote rural female teachers to become MoE recognized, and the need for a contextualized multi-grade approach for CBE in Afghanistan.

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