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What does “quality” look like for post-2015 education provision in low-income countries? An exploration of stakeholders’ perceptions of school benefits in village LEAP schools, rural Sindh, Pakistan

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posted on 2023-06-08, 19:08 authored by Jane Jerrard
The continuing disadvantage that poor and marginalized communities face in low-income countries is well recognized but international initiatives and government policies still fall short of providing sustainable quality education. The recently published Global Monitoring Report 2013 – 2014 “Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All” recommends strategies for solving the quality crisis through attracting the best teachers, getting them where they are most needed and providing incentives to retain them. Few would dispute these strategies but their achievement is problematic, given the vastness of the challenge in a financially constrained global environment. This study is predicated on the acknowledgement that the strategies proposed provide too narrow a focus and that poor quality education is also due to contextual factors that have been relatively ignored. These contextual factors are investigated through this research. This research study explores community perceptions of school benefits as a lens through which to engage with marginalized rural communities’ conceptualization of “quality” education. It utilizes Tikly and Barrett’s (2011) framework for analysing quality education with its three key dimensions of inclusion, relevance and democracy. It investigates the factors and processes that are shaping perceptions of benefits within the three environments of policy-making, school and community. The research study uses a qualitative methodology, employing a critical stance, but engaging also with the insights of Bourdieu and Foucault viewing power as both repressive and productive. This research engages with the “regimes of truth” that have constrained social action as well as the process of discourse deconstruction and reconstruction that has shaped agency and facilitated social change. This is a multiple case study of four rural primary schools in marginalized communities in Sindh, Pakistan (two opened in 2002, two in 2007), using purposive sampling to maximize data heterogeneity. Data, mostly qualitative, was generated from semi-structured interviews with community leaders, school management committee members, parents and teachers. Focus groups were conducted with school graduates and teachers. Photographs were used as a participatory tool to facilitate interview and focus group discussions. The findings indicate that context-led policy, contextualized teacher training, pedagogy and curriculum and community leadership that facilitates agency are the key factors shaping perceptions of benefits. Emerging from these factors is both the employment of local teachers who can experience a transformational process that enables them to bring social change and a dynamic interaction between pedagogy and benefits. Positional benefits are highly valued with social skills being key to the development of social capital, which the findings indicate should be included in the discourse of “quality” education. The study provides empirical data demonstrating how the recent theoretical frameworks for quality education are being “fleshed out” in specific contexts and addresses issues raised in quality debates. It makes recommendations for the complementary role of non-government schools in the post-2015 EFA strategy and the provision of quality education in hard to reach areas characterized by poverty and marginalization in the global South.


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