Painel 8: We can’t afford to keep waiting for the state: Community participation in education
- Ana Larcher Carvalho (CEI-IUL, ISCTE-IUL)
- Lúcia Bayan (CEI-IUL, ISCTE-IUL)
Community schools have a long history in Africa and have sometimes been promoted by different actors with contrasting objectives. At independence, African governments, educators and NGO with emancipatory objectives pushed community schools as a way to increase access, but also as alternative models of education to the western model. The neoliberal agenda of the 90’s pushed for increased community participation in sharing the cost of financing education, also favouring the involvement of NGO, at the detriment of the state. With the progressive withdrawal of the state, in several countries and especially in marginalised areas, communities managing and financing schools has emerged as the only option communities have to ensure children have access to education.
A variety of different community schools models co-exist, adaptative or transformative, having provided an education opportunity to large numbers of students but with different outcomes and numerous weaknesses. There is a lack of data and knowledge about them, namely because of their own fragility and also because they are considered a phenomenon of the periphery, and perceived as one that will disappear. We contend, however, that this will not be the case, as there is still a very high number of children in Africa who are not at school (30 million primary-age children not attending school, according to UNESCO’s Education for All Monitoring Report). leaving a huge gap to be filled.
This panel wants to explore community-supported strategies for education provision in different countries: what are the dynamics, motivations, how are they organised, what are the limits of their sustainability? Is it viable for marginalised communities to support the full costs of education? Strained beyond their coping capacity, which negative impacts does this have on the communities themselves? Finally, the panel want to encourage a wider discussion on what can be learned from these models and to what extent they can inform national and international education policies. The objective is also to discuss whether, and under which conditions, these schools can be alternatives for education, offering not only wider access but different learning experiences, more adapted to the needs of communities.
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