Written by James Kiyemba, Regional Programme Manager of the Central Region in Uganda
INGREDIENTS FOR AN EFFECTIVE ENROLMENT STRATEGY
As the school year in both Uganda and Zambia have recently started, we asked James Kiyemba, our Regional Programme Manager for the Central Region in Uganda, about different enrolment strategies used in PEAS schools.
Successful enrolment strategies are critical to achieving PEAS’ pillar of access and for generating income to support PEAS’ pillar of sustainability. These strategies ensure PEAS schools are appropriately enrolled (neither over or under). Appropriate enrolment supports one of PEAS’ main focus: increasing access to quality secondary education for young people from poor households and the girl child.
PEAS employs integrated means to increase the number of students year on year:
1. SCHOOL OUTREACH
Given the remote areas in which PEAS schools are located, building partnerships with nearby primary schools is critical. For example, through delivering motivational talks, particular during the P7 Primary Leaving Exam (PLE) examinations, PEAS teachers create a sense of continuity for the students moving between primary and secondary.
2. INFORMATION SESSIONS AND THE CIRCULATION OF PRINTED MATERIALS
A) COMMUNITY AWARENESS SESSIONS
Local radios stations are critical to promoting PEAS schools to a wide number of listeners. It does come at a cost, but the impact can be instrumental in driving enrolment as DJ mentions help keep PEAS schools present in people’s minds.
Sharing school progress and plans after church services is an effective mechanism for conveying PEAS’ school message to a large number of people and is an opportunity to engage with communities on a face-to-face basis.
C) PRINTED MATERIALS
Circulating quality information on PEAS schools’ infrastructure, fees and co-curricular activities are vital for parents’ decision making as they look for alternative schools for their children. Disseminating banners, posters, calendars, brochures and flyers in nearby and out of reach areas really supports the drive for enrolment.
3. COMMUNITY OUTREACH
PEAS schools operate within the community and have a diverse list of stakeholders including: local councils, district officials, parents, Board of Governors (BOGs) and Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs). These stakeholders are hugely influential to how a school progresses, and are involved in school operations through feedback and support structures. In the same way, schools provide support to the community to bridge any gap that may exist and realise good working relations with the community.
4. COMMUNITY-SCHOOL LINKAGES
School monitoring and supervision outside the school environment is best done by parents, community leaders and the BOG and PTA governance. Collecting feedback on school leadership, discipline and performance, amongst other parts of the PEAS approach, helps schools to plan and implement strategies for improvement. Such feedback is best collected during community activities and meetings with parents and opinion leaders, which the school leaders organise.
Never underestimate the importance of face-to-face interaction. Attending and contributing to community functions or activities, for example the construction of wells or places of worship, helps to show that PEAS supports community initiatives. This supports strong relationship building between the schools and the community.
Whilst the impact of these activities may not be immediate, the long term impact is incredibly important. Meetings and interactive platforms have increased the level of community-school linkages, improved community-school relationships and each party adds value to the other. In fact, it partly explains and justifies school relevance in the community.
5. PARTNERSHIPS WITH ORGANISATIONS
At the school level, organisations that are community-based and children-centred have opted to work with PEAS schools. Such organisations include Community Vision, Compassion, African Renewal Ministries, Soup Uganda and Food for the Hungry. To foster these relationships, school leaders have held meetings for checks on progress and improvement such that these organisations increase the number of students deployed in our schools.
Special thanks to James Kiyemba, PEAS’ Regional Programme Manager for Central Region in Uganda, for this post.