By Ian Ortega and Elizabeth Birabwa
A study conducted by Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) has revealed that PEAS schools are outperforming those under the USE Programme. Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS) is a charity that builds and runs low cost-private secondary schools in Uganda and Zambia.
According to research, government and private secondary schools under the Universal Secondary Education (USE) Programme were registering less gains as compared to PEAS schools. PEAS have a network of 28 schools in Uganda.
Even though PEAS students were starting off further behind, within 1-2 years, they had equal or better test scores as their peers in USE Programmes.
But what could be responsible for these remarkable differences?
Dr. Francis Mwesigye, a researcher at EPRC suggests that the integration of Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) was playing a key role. This was coupled with the community involvement in the monitoring of teachers and pupils attendance and strong child practices.
These outcomes were presented during the Kampala learning summit organized by PEAS in collaboration with Ark and EPRC. PEAS schools proved to be reaching some of the most marginalized students in the country yet helping them to learn and progress at rates faster than predicted. 60 percent of the students in PEAS schools are from the poorest families contrasted with the 39 percent and 18 percent in government and private schools respectively.
More impressive was the educational inclusion registered by the PEAS schools which admitted an average of 50% female students compared to 44% in government schools.
Dr. Rachel Linn, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager- PEAS-Uganda, explained that to avert student absenteeism, especially by the girls, they avail appropriate sanitary facilities in addition to girls’ sanitary pads to enable female students attend school even during menstruation. Additionally Christine Apiot Okudi, the Education Quality Manager, PEAS Uganda, stressed the importance of employment of senior women teachers in schools who listen to and act as confidants for female students.
The primary findings from the first year of the ongoing three year evaluation process which began in 2015 and ends in 2017, show promising signs that public-private partnerships in education can achieve their aims of providing equitable access to quality education.