Meeting EFA: Reaching the underserved through complementary models of effective schooling
In 1990, international donors and country governments worldwide made a commitment to provide quality education for all children, launching the Education for All movement. Sixteen years later, between 77 and 115 million children remain out of school. Th e challenges of meeting EFA are well documented. Th e rising costs of educational inputs, which increased the unit costs of conventional approaches to education, make it diffi cult to reach the rural poor in resource constrained environments. Teacher recruitment and retention impact the ability of Ministries of Education to staff isolated schools and the schools that do exist are often too far from communities for children to attend. Th e international donor community is beginning to recognize that without changing how educational opportunities are delivered in many developing countries, the goals of Education for All will not be achieved.
In 2004, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Educational Quality Improvement Program 2 (EQUIP2) began investigating community-based schools as a mechanism for reaching the underserved populations. Th e team identifi ed nine models that successfully organized schooling in regions least served by the formal education system. Th ese complementary education approaches rely on community, non-governmental, and ministry collaboration and present a promising response to the challenge of meeting the EFA goals of universal access, completion, and learning. Complementary Education models work in support of the formal public system, off ering students an alternative route to achieving the same educational outcomes as students in the government schools. Th e programs are designed to feed students into the government system at various entry points and are large enough to exhibit many of the same characteristics as mainstream schools. Over time, the models have increased rates of attendance, completion, and learning among the populations they serve.