Opportunity EduFinance is rolling out its Education Quality (EdQ) programme from 250 schools in 2016 to reach 675 schools this year in Colombia, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Besides education quality, the EdQ programme improves financial sustainability too, helping schools to manage their finances better. A pilot project in 105 Ghanaian schools reduced loan default rates to save nearly 5 percent of total programme cost.
“Our Ghana pilot demonstrates that, with our EdQ work, schools are nearly three times less likely to default, saving us 4.8 percent of our total programme costs,” said Nathan Byrd, who runs the Opportunity EduFinance programme.
The EdQ programme is a late arrival to Opportunity EduFinance, which started in 2007 by focusing on education access issues. By offering tailored microfinance services, Opportunity helped schools to upgrade their facilities and parents to pay for education. In 2016, Opportunity EduFinance began to focus on education quality issues too, mostly working with schools that had already taken school improvement loans (SILs).
Affordable private schools often offer a better quality of education than government-run schools, because they are directly accountable to fee-paying parents in a way that government schools are not.
Fully funded by Opportunity EduFinance, the programme groups schools into clusters, which then self-assess their quality according to 30 categories in a framework called Pathways to Excellence (P2E). An education specialist, also funded by EduFinance, then works with the clusters, training, mentoring, and directing them to the right resources.
Affordable private schools receive EdQ training on school management, marketing, financial management, teaching methods, staff retention, child protection, early years development, and more. The clusters can then choose where they wish to receive more support, selecting from topics such as child-centred pedagogy, to behavioural management, teacher recruitment, and school administration and management.
The programme is sufficiently promising that it has received financial support from the UBS Optimus Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
“We’re grateful to our donors who have supported this work enthusiastically, allowing us to move quickly from pilots in two countries to programmes in five countries,” said Jonathan Renaudon-Smith, Opportunity’s Director of Education Quality.
“It’s a great investment - children have a better chance at education when their schools are financially sustainable,” he said.
Opportunity EduFinance expects to roll the EdQ programme out into Kenya this year, and into India in 2018.
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