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School for All is a key part of Japan’s educational support of Africa

By Staff Writer
October 14, 2022
To strengthen education across Africa to build resilience and growth, JICA has embarked on a groundbreaking project called School for All. The project forms part of Japan’s initiatives for Africa under the TICAD initiative, under which Japan works with the UNDP, AUC etc. etc. to support Africa’s development in a wide range of areas, including healthcare, infrastructure, and education.

Results have been surprising and encouraging – starting in 2004 with 23 schools at Niger, it has now been implemented at 53,000 schools at 8 countries.

JICA's goal for this project is to utilize a community collaborative structure (local networks and organizational mobility) led by the local government and other organizations, even without JICA's involvement. School for All Chief Advisor Masahiro Hara says, "I am confident that this model can be adapted to any environment in any country, and can be used to suitable effect in many countries.”

JICA worked with government agencies with each country to develop suitable strategy for the local education environment, providing advice and expertise accumulated from decades of similar projects around the world.

Strengthening women's participation in school, which in turn promotes gender equality and economic development. Often, parents do not feel their children need to go to school, as attending school is difficult due to poverty, and they need to help with household chores and farming. Local governments also often do not pay teachers adequate salaries.
An empty classroom in rural Africa
A great deal of work needs to be done to improve the quality of schools in many rural parts of Africa. By starting with the community, School For All hopes to make education everyone's priority (a file photo of a classroom in Africa)
The difference of this project is that local residents become responsible for school management. JICA explains that this makes it easier for the entire community to recognize the importance of education and promotes children's learning.

The "All" in the project name refers to parents, professors, and community residents, with these people making up the school management committee. "School for All" is an initiative for them to manage the school in cooperation with the administration.

Prior to the program, parents and community members initially felt distrustful, and doubted the schools’ utility due to the lack of classrooms and frequent teacher absences. JICA noticed these issues and concluded that proper "school management" was important and that without it, there would be no connection to children's learning and the environment in the classrooms. Without a solid foundation of school management, no matter how many external resources are invested, those resources will not reach the children.

The project had three main components: 1. democratic election of committee members; 2. formulation, implementation, and evaluation of school activity plans with the participation of residents; and 3. establishment of an integrated monitoring system.

Democratic election of committee members, which means that members are elected by secret ballot to make the school management committee trusted by "All” and easy to participate in. For the second, the school management committee will come up with ideas and plan what they can do by themselves and implement them; and for the third, the school management committee will be responsible for the implementation of the school activity plan and the evaluation of it. Third, the school management committee and the administration will monitor how the schools are run and consider future.

Thanks to the establishment of the School Management Committee, which aimed to develop education in cooperation with residents and administration, the project has (as of April 28, 2021) been deployed in approximately 53,000 primary and secondary schools in eight countries (Niger, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Madagascar, Djibouti, and Ghana). Results were also seen in terms of enrollment in primary education. In Niger, for example, the enrollment rate increased from 52% in 2004 to 82% in 2012.

The project has not only increased the number of schools and enrollment rates but has also spawned voluntary activities by residents based on the unique needs of each region, and activities have been implemented not only in the field of education but also in the areas of nutrition improvement and satellite management. To cite an example, in Madagascar, school lunches were initiated.

During the agricultural off-season (around December to March each year) when the harvest of rice, the staple food in Madagascar, is unstable, the supply of school lunches is sometimes delayed, so everyone provided the necessary items (rice, water, vegetables, labor for cooking, etc.) and school lunches were implemented. In addition, schools that served school lunches reported that hand washing instruction was provided, which led to prevention of infectious diseases and other hygiene measures.

At TICAD8 the end of August, Prime Minister Kishida announced a policy of injecting a total of $30 billion in public and private funds over the next three years to boost Africa's growth.

He also emphasized the importance of "human resource development" as a driver of growth for post-colonial economic growth, and his intention to provide quality education, including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education to 9 million people and improve education for 4 million girls, to improve access to quality education, including for youth and women.

“School for All”, a JICA project, contributes to the provision of quality education.
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