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The GPE Program proposal has been developed through an intensive consultative process led by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and involving large number of stakeholders from the MoE, Ministry of Finance (MoF), development partners and civil society organizations. The Human Resource Development Board (HRDB), the equivalent of the Local Education Group (LEG) in Afghanistan, played a major role in the management and coordination of the process. The proposal was submitted to the GPE Board of Directors in September 2011, and after thorough analysis, it was approved to be funded on 15 December 2011. The program consists of an integrated package of four GPE Priorities that are mutually reinforcing, have their strategic origins in the Education Interim Plan (EIP) and offer opportunities to build on previous successful experiences.
The overall objective is to increase and sustain equitable access to education in the target districts that face the most critical challenges such as (i) the low access rates in primary education, (ii) the need to overcome traditional obstacles to enrollment through alternative approaches, (iii) the need to take action in favor of girls’ education and (iv) the need to continue to build the capacity of the MoE to deliver quality education service.
The GPE Program will adopt a convergence approach, meaning that all four of the program priorities will be implemented in the same districts for maximum impact. Strategies such as community and social mobilization; relations and links between social mobilizers and NGOs, a common policy framework to strengthen MoE capacity, will all be mutually reinforcing. The program was extended till 2017 by the GPE secretariat.
Approved Grant: USD 55.7 Million for the period of 2012- 2015, which was extended till 2017.
The program consists of an integrated package of four GPE Priorities that are mutually reinforcing, have their strategic origins in the EIP and offer opportunities to build on previous successful experiences. These Include:
Program Priority 1: Strengthening Community and Social Mobilization Governance Systems at the Local Level
Two Synergistic strategies will be adopted under the first GPE program priority:
1. Enhance Community and Social Mobilization
2. Strengthen School Governance to Promote Quality Education
Strategy 1: Enhance Community and Social Mobilization
The first strategy focuses on communities and leaders/elders and their attitudes to schooling and education. The objective is to strengthen community and social mobilization with a view of addressing socio-cultural and political barriers to education; developing greater understanding of and support specifically for girls' education; increasing student enrolment and performance, particularly for girls; and ensuring social support and a protective environment in and around the schools. The intent is to empower the communities to resume ownership of schools and come to the forefront of protecting and defending their own children's schools.
This will be achieved via three key activities:
Activity 1: Broaden and strengthen the engagement of communities around schools, specifically for girls' education, via the development of training materials and guidelines for social mobilizers;
Activity 2: Engage political, traditional and religious leaders and elders to promote education, particularly girls' education, in Afghanistan;
Activity 3: Develop and implement a country-wide communication strategy, including for girls' education.
Strategy 2: Strengthen School Governance for Quality School
The second strategy addresses community involvement in school governance through the development and implementation of School Improvement Plans (SIP).
The objective is to mainstream and implement a concept of quality education at the school level that involves the physical school environment as well as effective learning, safety and protection, health, water, and sanitation, participation, quality and management.
This will be achieved via two key activities:
Activity 1: Strengthen and train School Management Shuras (SMSs) on their roles and responsibilities and on the development of School Improvement Plans (SIP);
Activity 2: Localized engagement of small- work projects to facilitate infrastructures improvements. The costing of School Improvement Plans will also include community contributions where possible.
The budget for this component is USD 14.8 million (27% of the GPE program grant).
Priority Program 2: Expanding and Reinforcing Multiple Pathways to Education
Where formal system of education has failed, alternative approaches to education provide the flexibility necessary to tailor solutions to local realities. Therefore, the objective of this program priority is to increase access to basic education by expanding and reinforcing multiple and alternative basic education programs. The following three approaches have already been identified:
1. Community- Based Education (CBE) and accelerate learning program (ALP)
2. Mosque Based Education
3. Reopening Closed Schools
Strategy 1: Expand Access to CBE and ALP
CBE is the only education modality in Afghanistan that has successfully provided educational services to more girls than boys; it has a proven track of being able to narrow the country's educational gender gap.CBE models also appear to have transcended the security challenges that exist in many parts of the country. The following activities will be utilized to implement this strategy;
Activity1: The use of school mapping tools to identify under-served areas where CBE and ALP classes are required and map out learning spaces where the classes can be connected;
Activity 2: Systematic links will be established with the work of social mobilizers to mobilize communities, identify students and facilitate their enrollment;
Activity3: Nominated community teachers will be provided with standardized teacher trainings at the district and province levels and will be paid salaries in line with MoE policy.
Strategy 2: Strengthen Mosque-based Education
At the basis of these activities is the development of much needed engagement strategy for the utilization of mosques in support of education at the local level. For many parents it is the only form of education known to them. The idea is to clarify and systematize the channels of work with mosques, strengthen mosques in delivering basic education and create linkages and bridges to the formal education system. Mullahs will be trained in pedagogy and subject specific skills.
The longer term objective is to devise and implement a strategy whereby students participating in mosque-based education are able to pass grade three competency tests to transition to the formal system and continue their schooling.
Strategy 3: Reopen Closed Schools
The aim is to reopen 300 of around 450 closed schools in Afghanistan, adding to the approximately 600 closed schools the Government has already successfully reopened in past 5 years. In addition to ensuring that out of school children receive education; reopening of closed schools also has a major symbolic importance for communities and demonstrating their determination to educate their children. This is expected to be a high impact activity because every school that reopens in insecure province becomes a benchmark for the whole country by demonstrating the ability of communities to expand access to education.
Activity1: Mobilizing political, religious and traditional leaders/elders and other influential groups via advocacy and social mobilization to reopen closed schools;
Activity 2: An “emergency” fund will be created to allow these “new” schools to operate until they become fully incorporated into the national system.
The budget for the component is USD 17.2 million (31% of the GPE program grant).
Priority Program 3: Increasing the Number of Qualified Female Teachers in Areas with High Gender Disparities
Given the strong correlation between the number of female teachers and the number of girls attending schools, and given the female teachers are scarce in the target provinces, the third GPE program priority focuses on increasing the number of female teachers in insecure, rural and remote districts. The objective of this program priority is to increase girls' enrollment in the targeted districts through an expansion in the number and quality of female teachers, with focus on creating a pool of qualified local teachers.
The following three strategies will contribute to the overall objective:
Strategy 1: Develop Social Support Systems for Female Teachers at the Local Level
Activity 1: Development and implementation of social support strategy – based on constitution with girls and women – to ensure that the new teachers, from both the urban centers and local communities, have a solid base for care, assistance and encouragement;
Strategy 2: Recruit, Train and Deploy Female Teachers from Urban Centers to the Local Level
Activity 1: Experienced female teachers (grade 12 and above) from urban centers will be recruited trained and deployed to rural areas with their spouses;
Activity 2: An incentive system will be developed and institutionalized. Teachers receiving the deployment and salary bonus will sign a three year contract with the MoE.
Strategy 3: Develop a System for Recruitment, Training and Employment of Female Teachers at the Local Level
Activity 1: Adolescent girls and other female members of the communities will be trained and employed to teach in primary grades. Grade 12 and lower female graduates and future graduates, as well as adolescent girls having received equivalent non-formal education and CBE female teachers will be identified through accelerated learning programs;
Activity 2: A system and scheme of technical support and incentives for locally hired female teachers will be deployed. This will take the form of continuous professional development, accreditation of coursework and integration in to the MoE structure.
The budget for this component is USD 16.4 million (29% of the GPE program grant)
Priority Program 4: Streamlining policy and administrative systems in the MoE
The main objective of this program priority is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the MoE in policy formulation, planning and implementation processes and in coordination of programs, with a special focus on capacity building at the sub-national level. This will be achieved through:
Strategy 1: Enhance Policy Review and Development
Activity 1: The Academic Council and Boards of Standards (ACBS) will be strengthened to become the MoE's responsible body for policy development and for the definition of procedures and sitting of standards. Its capacities in policy review and creation will include clear division of tasks, processes, training programs and monitoring;
Activity 2: Simultaneously, in view of strengthening the work on three first GPE program priorities, a package of policies, procedures and standards related to them will be developed and disseminated. The activity will touch on the following: (i) community and social mobilization; (ii) school governance (iii) multiple pathways to education and transition from formal to non- formal schooling, and (iv) increasing the number of qualified teachers and enhancing girls’ secondary education.
Strategy 2: Strengthen the MoE Capacity for Improved Planning and Monitoring
Activity 1: Provision of training in educational planning and management, especially to DEOs and PEDs' staff. A training program will be developed, building on existing work with the UNESCO Institute for Educational Planning (IEP). Master trainers will be recruited and equipped to build capacities at the sub national levels (DEOs and PEDs). Civil servants will be provided with on-the-job training;
Activity 2: Strengthening the Education Management Information System (EMIS) architecture will be undertaken; first through an assessment of the responsiveness of EMIS to the monitoring and evaluation functions of the MoE and partners at the district, provincial and central levels.
Further EMIS system and modules will be developed, and an integrated system will be devised to complement EMIS by inclusion of all types of school and spot surveys and other third party testing and assessments undertaken by education partners.
Priority Program 4
Strategy 3: Strengthen the Management, Coordination and Resource Mobilization Function in the MoE
This strategy will be realized through the establishment of a GPE Program Coordination Unit (GPE-PCU) under the Office of the Minister of Education.
The GPE-PCU will perform a management and coordination function both with the MoE and in relation to external grants.
The budget for this component is USD 7.4 million (13% of the GPE program grant)