Improving education in rural areas: Guidance for rural development specialists
Jeanne Moulton For Charles Maguire, The World Bank January 2001
J. Moulton, rural education, 05/16/01
Universal basic education is a critical part of rural development. Individuals who have had some education are better farmers and more capable of finding off-farm employment. The rural sector also benefits from the overall development of the national economy and the alleviation of poverty, in which basic education is essential. Yet rural primary schools in low-income countries often suffer because they are remote from the central offices of the ministry of education, which distribute instructional resources, so their quality is poor. In addition, the national schooling model, developed in an urban context, is not so relevant to the rural setting, and rural families cannot afford the direct cost of schooling nor the opportunity cost of having their children away for many hours of the day in low-quality schools. In the past decade, the World Bank and other international funding agencies have worked with governments to provide good-quality primary schooling to all children, even those in remote rural areas. During this period, several models of rural schools have been piloted, and educators are learning more about the underlying principles of providing good-quality education in rural areas. The key factors include local voice in what the school offers and how it is governed (often in the form of community schools), recruiting and supporting capable teachers, adapting the curriculum to a rural setting while keeping it within the national system, helping those who cannot afford school to pay for it, and budgeting for the full cost of constructing new schools. The World Bank has a mixed record on supporting rural schools. Rural primary education is now benefiting, however, from experience with new models supported by the Bank. Because it is important to understand the distinctive characteristics of rural settings, to which schools must be responsive, and to support interventions that enhance rural schools and their grounding in a rural environment, education specialists at the Bank could benefit from collaboration with their colleagues in rural development. ♦ Help educators define what is “rural.” Bank documents reveal that those who plan education projects do not generally look at quantitative or qualitative data that would demarcate rural areas and that would reveal variations within rural areas that are important for supporting rural schools. Rural development specialists might help education specialists analyze the rural space, both the physical and social/cultural environment, so that either national or targeted rural education projects take the particular rural environment into account in project design and implementation. School mapping (determining where new schools should be built) is a particular exercise that would benefit from input of individuals that know the rural areas being mapped. Collaborate in the preparation of World Bank required planning documents, including the Country Assistance Strategy and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). The PRSP, in particular, includes a focus on Community-Driven Development (CDD), which is the process shown to be effective in providing access to those public goods that are within the management capacity of community organizations. The CDD process encourages cross-sectoral activities and provides a procedural opportunity for Bank staff and their clients to consider improvements in primary schooling in plans for developing and sustaining the rural space. Make available to schools people and other resources for teaching children about their rural environment, agricultural skills, and other practical skills and knowledge that complements the academic curriculum. Help schools connect children to their environment. Partner on straightforward,...
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