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Improving quality of education

School children in Nicaragua wash their hands at a water station installed with the support of Plan.
School children in Nicaragua wash their hands at a water station installed with the support of Plan.

Many Plan sponsored programs are directed at helping young people gain the knowledge and skills that will help them throughout their lives. The quality of the education they receive – the content of what they learn, how it is delivered and who the messenger is can all have a huge impact on learning outcomes.

There are so many factors that can have an influence on education in the classroom, in the school as well as in the surrounding community.

Plan maintains a wide range of primary education initiatives to support healthy and friendly learning environments. Our work is guided by an appreciation that the education content should applicable and relevant to local contexts and that teaching methods should be friendly and supportive of all children.

The School Improvement Program (SIP), which Plan has implemented in twenty six countries, has focused on quality improvements including the provision of textbooks, support to teacher’s professional development and in Latin America, a special focus on teaching methodologies.

In Uganda following the introduction of Universal Primary Education, there was a large increase in school enrollment. Schools faced a lack of teaching materials, shortage of trained teachers and poor infrastructure. In 2003, Plan Uganda began the School Improvement Pilot Program aimed at following a holistic approach focused on accountability and effectiveness. The program was carried out in ten pilot schools.

Major components of the SIP focused on improving the quality of teaching and learning, using financial, material and human resources more efficiently and promoting the rights of children. The main aim was to increase child achievement levels. The Plan team used dance and drama, and child-to-child methodologies and approaches to educate and promote children’s rights. Head teachers in all of the SIP schools reported active child participation in activities promoted by rights clubs as well as involvement in the co-curricular activities.

As a result of Plan’s activities in the ten pilot schools, enrollment increased between 2001 and 2005 from 5,818 pupils to 7,115 pupils. The school drop-out rate also showed a drastic decline from 555 pupils in 2001 to 180 by 2005.

Plan also recognizes the need for a safe and friendly learning environment. Since 2008, the Learn without Fear campaign has been targeting the most common and damaging forms of school-based violence including bullying, corporal punishment and sexual violence in over 30 countries across the globe. Through this campaign, including awareness raising and teacher training activities, Plan is working to promote quality education in safe and supportive environments, where children are free to learn and grow without the threat of violence.