The place of small multi-grade schools in developing countries. The case of Ethiopia.
Karl Jan Solstad, Wanna Leka og Alan Sigsworth:
– The place of small multi-grade schools in developing countries. The case of Ethiopia.
In Reaching Out the authors first clarify the reasons why universal schooling is essential for social, political and economic development to occur in poor, predominantly rural, developing countries. The point is made that the quality of the education offered is as important as mere provision of educational services. As part of a UNESCO/Norwegian initiative for a large scale development project in Sub-Saharan Africa, an outline of high quality multi-grade schools was formulated, with the aim of reaching children, especially girls, in the sparsely populated areas of developing countries. A description of this project is presented, as well as the initial pilot work in one selected country, Ethiopia. Although the planned large-scale development programme never materialised, the project ideas were nonetheless implemented in several Ethiopian rural communities. The experiences gained during a five year period of multi-grade schooling are set forth. The evaluation rests mainly on qualitative research, with some additional data of a quantitative nature. The findings strongly indicate that locating small schools near the pupils’ homes and employing multi-grade teaching strategies may greatly boost school enrolment ,especially for girls, and this, moreover, without any impairment to the quality of the education offered.
Karl Jan Solstad, at present Professor and Senior Researcher, Nordland Research Institute, Norway, has held positions as teacher in rural multi-grade schools and in teacher education institutions and universities, and has served as Director of Education in a rural region of Norway. He has published several books and a number of articles, mainly dealing with rural education issues. Among titles in English are Equity at Risk (1997) and, with Alan Sigsworth, Making Small Schools Work (2001) and Small Schools – A Small Inquiry (2005).
Wanna Leka currently lectures at the Institute of Educational Research, Addis Abba University. He obtained his PhD in the U.S.A. During 1992−1994 he worked as a General Manager for the Educational Materials Production and Distribution Agency (EMPDA). He has also served as a consultant for the African Union Education Section and UNESCO/IICBA. Dr. Wanna has published several journal articles on Ethiopian education issues and authored and co-authored a number of evaluation reports arising from his consultative work.
Alan Sigsworth is a retired Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the University of East Anglia, England. Formerly a primary teacher, with experience in small rural schools, he has been involved in teacher education at college and university level. His research has focused particularly on the rural school and rural communities, and on network building between small rural schools. Together with Adrian Bell he published in 1987 the widely circulated book The Small Rural School – A Matter of Quality. Among his more recent publications are the above-mentioned ones with Solstad.