VSO works in education in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Our programmes are developed through a consultative process that analyses the education context, and identifies the people who are disadvantaged within and outside of the education system in each country.
Our vision is that all children have access to good quality primary education. This includes ensuring the most disadvantaged – such as girls, those with disabilities, ethnic minorities and children affected by HIV and AIDS – are also able to go to school.
In 2000, 164 governments committed to achieving ‘Education for All’ at the World Education forum in Dakar, Senegal. The countries signed up to six goals to:
- expand early childhood care and education
- provide free and compulsory primary education for all
- promote learning and life skills for young people and adults
- increase adult literacy by 50% achieve gender parity by 2005, gender equality by 2015
- improve the quality of education.
In response, rich governments have donated more funds to education in developing countries and poor countries are increasing the availability of schooling, either by making education free or by opening more schools. However, as school enrolments rise, pressure on already overstretched education systems increases, which affect the quality of education children receive. Our response is to work to strengthen education systems and improve the quality of teaching through the work our volunteers and national and international advocacy.
How our volunteers help
Volunteers support improvements in education by working in teacher training colleges and with groups of schools on developing teaching methods. They also work within the mainstream education system to overcome the barriers facing marginalised groups, for example, improving the provision of inclusive education. By improving classroom techniques so that lessons are enjoyable, practical and interactive, more children leave school with skills and knowledge that will improve their chances in life. Their vulnerability to HIV and AIDS and discrimination will be reduced and their ability to maintain good health and to make a living will improve.
We also work with local government offices and Ministries of Education in assessment, strategic planning, national curriculum development, monitoring and evaluation and national quality standards.
Our campaigning work on education
Our international education advocacy and policy work Valuing Teachers encourages governments to change policies affecting teacher conditions and efforts to improve the quality of education. Research has now been completed in 13 countries.
VSO is also an active member of the Global Campaign for Education, an international coalition of charities, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and education unions. The coalition mobilises the public to put pressure on governments to deliver on the promises they made in 2000 to provide free education for all children.