Second Chance Education for Primary School Dropouts
In the course of a sharp economic decline in Zimbabwe over the past 15 years, the number of school dropouts has drastically risen in a country that had once not only been labeled Africa’s breadbasket, but had also boasted one of the continent’s best education systems. Many parents could no longer afford to send their children to school, and much rather wanted the kids to help at home or to earn an income to support the family. Whilst the number of school drop outs grew to such an extent that experts warned of the establishment of a lost generation without sufficient education and knowledge of their rights, the authorities did for a long time refuse to acknowledge the problem. By now, the number of children that have dropped out of Primary School is estimated at 500,000.
The GIZ pilot project is divided into two strategies. The first is an accelerated learning programme (ALP) developed by GIZ that compresses the seven-year Primary School Curriculum into three years and seeks to enable the participating children to write their Grade 7 exams after successful completion, which theoretically allows them to re-join the formal system. Local partners (NGOs, Catholic Church) implement this strategy. Besides the pedagogical content, the lessons also focus on matters such as life skills, HIV/AIDS awareness, child’s rights and gender sensitivity.
Strategy 2, called Fit for Life, was also developed by GIZ and blends basic literacy and numeracy lessons with basic vocational training in the field of agriculture. It targets children from 15 to 18 years, and aims at equipping them with skills that enable them to either fend for their own livelihoods or strengthen their employability. In addition, life skills, HIV/Aids awareness, child’s rights and gender sensitivity form part of the curriculum.
Those are deemed necessary for the learners’ personal development and will better their chances of successfully participating not only in the (informal) labor market but also in society. The training courses are offered through implementing partners at their facilities.
Primary School dropouts aged 12 to 18.
Goals and challenges
Project strategy 1 aims at providing basic education to the target group that may enable the participating children to write their Grade 7 exams and possibly to be reintegrated into the formal education system. To achieve this, a learning program was designed, tested, evaluated and established. A great challenge remains the re-integration of children into the formal system, as the financial problem persists. In turn, that means that even those who pass the Grade 7 exam find themselves out of school again, as the exam does not qualify for formal employment or vocational training.
Project strategy 2 is designed for children who, due to their age, will not be allowed back into the formal primary system, to achieve basic literacy and numeracy levels and acquire practical vocational skills that will increase their employability, their chances to fend for their own livelihoods and to become a meaningful part of society. The major challenge for this strategy has been the capital and inputs to kick start their own projects after they finish the training.
Current focus and activities
As highlighted, the first strategy focuses on preparing primary school drop outs to sit for their Grade 7 exams. This is done through well planned lessons that are conducted every day at each school. As a way of complementing the teaching and learning, learners are also taking part in extra-curricular activities like sports, art and craft, music, gardening and poultry projects among others. These extra-curricular activities are meant to equip the learners with basic practical and life skills. The project also carries out regular capacity building trainings for the facilitators who conduct lessons for the learners. These trainings focus on non-formal teaching methodologies, lesson planning and preparation and child cantered teaching methodologies among other topics. The gist of the trainings is to equip the facilitators with teaching skills as well as classroom management skills considering that they are not trained teachers.
Under the second strategy the trained youths have organised themselves into groups known as Young Farmers Clubs where they are trying to implement joint agricultural projects like small livestock husbandry and cotton production. The youths are also receiving guidance and extension services from government extension workers as well as lead farmers from the Zimbabwe Farmers Union.
It is important to note that both strategies have been adopted for national roll out by the Zimbabwean government and will now be implemented on a national scale targeting a total of 80,000 primary school drop outs.
Link to children and youth rights
By providing non-formal schooling for primary school drop-outs, the project contributes to:
- the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) no. 2: “Achieving Universal Primary Education”;
- the Education for All (EFA) goal no 2: “Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to, and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality”;
- the Education for All (EFA) goal no. 3: “Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programs”.
For more information on children and youth rights:
Dr. Maria-Nieves Alvarez
Sector Project „Realising the rights of children and youth“
Tel.: +49 6196 79-1697
For more information on the project:
Programme Advisor “Second Chance Education for Primary School Dropouts”