Many children still face major physical and social barriers to primary education. Research shows that most of out-of-school children are in families with uneducated mothers, live in rural areas, and come from low-income households. Girls are particularly numerous among them. Children who live in conflict areas and/or are affected by HIV and AIDS are also less likely to attend schools.
Poverty reduction requires focus on the quality of education for these vulnerable children. Various strategies have been deployed to increase access and reduce drop-out, such as reducing the cost of schooling through fee-free primary education or stimulating demand though food programmes and conditional cash transfers. Other measures have concentrated on quality and on efforts to make both formal and non-formal education more accessible.
The aim of IIEP’s work is to examine these and other initiatives in order to draw conclusions for planners and decision-makers. The concepts of equity, access and quality are clearly inter-related.
Beyond access, learning is what really matters. IIEP recognizes the need to monitor what children actually learn when they are in school by monitoring educational quality. While retaining the emphasis on Southern and Eastern Africa at the primary level, consideration is given expand research to other geographic areas and levels.