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The state of primary education in Eastern Equatoria State and a call for a context-specific, integrated intervention

Subject/Objective: 

To Review the overall state of education in EES, including educational infrastructures and educational outcomes (enrollment variation and dropout rates)
To Review teachers' qualification and experience, teaching methods and overall perceptions about the school and the pupils
To Review pupils’ perception of the state of their schools (infrastructures, materials, hygiene) and their engagement, safety, and views on hygiene, gender, and HIV

Methodology: 

QUESTIONNAIRE: enrollment and dropout data were analyzed together with the responses gathered through an ad-hoc questionnaire developed to reflect the ToC of the educational project implemented by AVSI (PEACE) and including questions borrowed by the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ). Additionally, results from a previous AVSI HHs survey were included as additional evidence.

SAMPLING STRATEGY of the Pupils-Teacher survey: Reflecting the number of pupils enrolled in the different schools, a prearranged number of student from P4, P5, P6, P7 and P8 was selected following the alphabetical order. The selection process was supervised by an external person and questions were read out loud to minimize biases related to pupils’ reading skills. Every teacher present in the day of the survey was included too. 1378 students (13%) and 322 teachers (62%) participated to the survey.

LIMITATIONS: Because “prime” outcome indicators such as dropout rates have been collected at the school level, the inferential the analysis relied on a limited sample, 23 schools. The time horizon of the study is also quite limited (enrollment variation from one term to another may reflect some contingent dynamics). Additionally, the survey reflects the common limitation of self-administered questionnaires – different groups may have different preference when it comes to reporting personal issues (male vs. females)

Key findings: 

OVERALL CONTEXT: The historical and structural problem of education in Eastern Equatoria State (EES) is related to the low level of education of children, i.e. number of years of school completed, which in turn it is caused by several reasons, the most important being: the limited share of pupils enrolled in schools, the old age at which children enter schooling, the inadequate training of educators, coupled, of course, with the limited economic means of families. In the last two years, in EES, the economic and security crisis that followed the conflict of 2015/2016 exacerbated each one of these problems, as it led to the interruption of school feeding programs and the resignation of many trained teachers, while it curtailed families’ economic means and worsened their security condition. There are important differences among the counties of EES to take into consideration: while security condition worsened dramatically in Magwi and Torit, food insecurity and lack of teachers is what affected the most the Kapoeta region. Similarly, the breakdown of the education system has affected mostly semi-urban and rural communities, while in urban settlement church-funded schools have continued, in some cases even increased, their operation.

EDUCATION OUTCOMES AND MOST-IN-NEED GROUPS: Unsurprisingly, the most affected by the renewed problems related to education are the youngest children. This is particularly true in Magwi Town, Torit Town and across Ikwoto county. AVSI found that in these areas children from 6 to 9 years of age are three times less likely to have attended schools compared to older children. This age divide is confirmed by enrolment data gathered in 24 schools, in 6 counties – including the 3 Kapoetas — which shows an alarming phenomenon: P1 and P2 classes are around 25% smaller than P3, P4 and P5 classes. This unusual school demographic pyramid reveals the come into play of obstacles that, in the last two years, are disproportionally curtailing access to education for younger pupils. Dropout rates, which are almost double in P1 classes compared to other classes, confirm the particular vulnerability of younger children. Finally, infants’ enrolment (3 to 5 years of age) registered in Ikwoto is about half the level of primary school enrolment, confirming the precarious entrance of young children in the schooling system. If not attended with targeted intervention, these obstacles will reduce even further the level of education in EES, as families postpone children entrance in the school system, when not renouncing to it altogether.

Obstacles to education specific for female children, by contrast, appear to be less intense than those specific to young children – at least in Ikwoto, Torit and Magwi – and affect mainly adolescents. While at the community level, overall the gender gap in school attendance was found to be quite negligible in Ikwoto, Torit and Magwi, school enrolment data for the same communities show the masculinity rate to be on the range of 55% in lower classes (P1 to P5), reaching 59% in P8 classes (120 males for 100 male) – still well below the age divide affecting younger pupils. In the Kapoetas, however, anecdotal evidence and community level data seem to suggest that, overall, obstacles to educations for girls are as intense as for younger pupils, especially in rural settlements.

Data gathered through a rapid assessment and a detailed survey and conducted with P4-P8 pupils in 34 schools in 6 counties brought to light additional specific needs that affect these two groups of pupils – such as the lack of recreational activities specifically designed for girls, or the lack of desks and chairs affecting younger pupils – as well as cross-cutting needs in term of school infrastructure – such as school fences and latrines – and teachers’ skills, especially basic pedagogy and learner-centred methodologies.

EDUCATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
A comparative assessment of schools in EES reveals the very different state of educational infrastructure, both in terms of physical and human resources, affecting the different communities of EES, even those distant only few kilometres from one another. Such difference, it is important to notice, go beyond the urban and rural divide. The fact that, for instance, the rural county of Ikwoto has five functioning secondary school, while only one is operating in Kapoeta East and Kapoeta North, reflects the rather uncoordinated support that received education in the area. While supporting the most established schools remains the most obvious choice in an emergency setting, a longer-term approach would certainly require to work with smaller, not fully functioning schools

Through a recent assessment in 20 communities scattered across the three Kapoeta counties, AVSI found evidence of the very patchwork state of educational infrastructure in the area. While well-established religious primary schools enroll around 500 pupils (in Narus and Kapoeta Town), other close-by communities are equipped with nothing more than few improvised TLS (Lowoyakali, Katodory payam, Kapoeta East) hosting just some dozens of pupils, often of young age. Similarly, while some newly refurbished schools are empty due to the lack of teachers (Kaldo P/S, Narus payam, Kapoeta East), other schools have few local teachers who straggles to find sufficient pupils as surrounding communities have no means to send children to school (Lollim, Katodori Payam, Kapoeta East - P/S in Machi One Payam, Kapoeta South).

The western part of the state presents the same patchwork situation. In Ikwoto county, the comparison of close-by communities in Chorokol and Chahari payam, for instance, is a paragon: in the former there are two semi-functioning schools, which host very few teachers and pupils, resulting in a community-wide two-consecutive-year enrolment rate of 15%; the latter has only one school operating, consistently supported through the years by AVSI through a mix of infrastructural and in-kind and scholarship programs, which led to an overall two-consecutive-year enrolment of 45%.

Sample size: 
1378 students (13% of pupils enrolled in the schools) and 322 teachers (62% of teachers working in the schools)
Assessment Report: 
Assessment Questionnaire: 
Publicly Available
Assessment Data: 
Publicly Available
Contact(s): 
Bruno Nazim Baroni
bruno.baroni@avsi.org
+211 923 809 070 (Mobile)
Operations(s)/Webspace(s): 
Assessment Date(s): 
20 Apr 2017 to 20 Oct 2017
Status: 
Report completed
Unit(s) of Measurement: 
Individuals
Collection Method(s): 
Structured Interview
Baseline data analysis
Population Type(s): 
Children
Adolescents
Teachers
Cluster(s)/Sector(s): 
Leading/Coordinating Organization(s): 
AVSI Foundation
Location(s): 
Eastern Equatoria