Jeremiah 29:11 raises the question of whether people have a “hope and a future”. This is what God promises. This is also the crux of the review of the impact of Tearfund's *Participatory Evaluation Process (PEP) on education outcomes at three schools in the Soroti Region of Uganda. PEP aims to see people being given freedom, more opportunities and a future. Introducing more facilitated learning like that used in PEP could transform engagement in and love of learning.
What has changed because of PEP?
1. PEP changes attitudes
The groups talked to at all three schools spoke about changes of attitude brought by PEP. For example, increased self-reliance/worth, working together, being less fearful, having hope.
2. Increase value in education
PEP has increased awareness of the value of education. This is usually one of the first changes seen in communities. More people see it is their collective responsibility to ensure children are educated and not just the government's duty.
3. Increased spending
For many, PEP leads to greater economic gain, as individuals consider how to develop income streams or join savings and loans groups. This extra income is frequently spent on education, including school fees and materials.
4. Schools set up/supported
At least 72 schools have been set up or supported by communities/churches/individuals doing PEP in the Soroti area because they want to prioritise education.
5. Adults returning to school
Some communities report that adults are returning to school, or committing themselves to further training, sometimes in the same class as their children.
6. Girls' education valued
PEP as a process helps people realise that everyone is valued equally by God, and that girls should have the same chances as boys.
Important things to consider about the success of PEP schools
The distance to school is a critical issue to ensure attendance and concentration of staff and pupils. This is clearly easier for staff and pupils at a private boarding school.
Not all communities can afford to provide meals for students and teachers.
The school grounds and buildings are often best where there is community advocacy.
Resources can be hard to obtain from Kampala and expensive. Basic textbooks are a struggle let alone resourcing arts, sports, information and communication technology or other extra-curricular activities.
It is a challenge to connect to the wider world. How can children aim higher if they don't know what is out there to aim for?
Establishing good teacher-pupil relationships was said to be key to encouraging the best from students.
How a Christian ethos is embedded in a school is really important. One school was very strongly pentecostal, and there were concerns that all night prayers and fasting days weren't the best for children's health. At another children of all faith were included in daily devotions.
It showed that at another school they had community support in hand, with the community raising funds themselves or advocating other organisation for better classrooms, toilet blocks and teachers accommodation.
Three key benefits of education
Education is important in itself - to encourage the joy of life-long learning.
Education usually has personal economic benefits, especially if higher levels are reached. It’s good for the country, too, as people can be taxed more.
There are non-economic benefits both individually and socially, such as being able to read a newspaper, being more tolerant of differences, or having better moral understanding. The schools viewed seemed to overall be fostering at least the second two of these benefits.
Read about how the Participatory Evaluation Process has been used to boost food security in Uganda
Read an infographic with the essentials of the 'A hope and a future?' PEP report (PDF 2.4 MB)