Using community structures to support inclusive basic education provision in urbanised vulnerable settings: the case in Wolayta Soddo, South Ethiopia
Dollebo, Medhin Marcho
MetadataShow full item record
The inclusive provision of quality basic education opportunities to all children is at the core of the global free and compulsory basic education agenda. As a UN member state, Ethiopia vowed to adhere to international agreements in this regard, and developed local policies pertaining to free and compulsory basic education. However, in practice this ideal has fallen short. Rather, the government’s policy of urban expansion to surrounding farm communities is in conflict with an attempt to include children from these households into basic education. In the current policy praxis of urban encroachment in Ethiopia, peri-urban farm households are evicted without proper compensation for their farm plots. The entire family livelihood and educational needs of the children had been based on access to this land. As a result, children who are included in urban centres by this process appear to be excluded from the provision of basic education. This has been observed in the surroundings of all rapidly expanding towns, including Wolayta Soddo. This issue has long been of a concern of mine. Informed by my belief that the strength of a community lies in its people, I investigated ways of how available societal structures could be used to support the provision of inclusive basic education in vulnerable urbanised settings. The research was theoretically located within social realism, and was also influenced by the philosophical thinking of pragmatism. It took the stance that even in a vulnerable society, reliable solutions for the problem can be achieved through resilience and the inner potential of structures already existing in the society. Based on a mixed methods design, I employed both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis. The literature study enabled me to derive a framework guiding my data analysis, while also informing me on the conceptualisation of inclusive basic education, the human rights dimension of basic education, the praxis of societal participation in basic education, and the link between livelihood and the educational needs of children for inclusive basic education. Based on the notion that the relevant policies are subject to influence, and may also be influenced, in advancing the inclusive basic education agenda in vulnerable urbanised settings, I employed critical policy analysis to understand what the existing policy frameworks can contribute to the provision of inclusive basic education in the setting being studied. In light of this, relevant policy documents were selected and critically analysed. Specifically, these comprised sections on inclusive basic education in the Ethiopian Education and Training Policy (ETP 1994) (along with its series of five-year Education Sector Development Programs (ESDPs)) and the National Special Needs/Inclusive Education Strategy (2012). A survey provided some understanding of the views of community members on the extent of inclusion, and the actual and potential involvement of structures in society in the implementation of basic education. The survey involved 300 participants and was administered using a survey questionnaire recorded by a trained enumerator. This was followed up by a qualitative study to explore the understanding of role-players in basic education regarding inclusiveness, and the role of societal structures in supporting it. The study found that the structures can be used to support inclusive basic education in the vulnerable urbanised setting of Wolayta Soddo, Ethiopia. The participants believed in unleashing the potential of societal structure to improve the provision of inclusive basic education provision through livelihood support, topping up school expenses and strengthening participation in school management processes. The participants further believed that the educational inclusion of every child should concern the community. They would therefore put maximum efforts into realising this through networking and partnership with other stakeholders. Thus, the policy should also respond productively to this.