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Important new book from Karl Jan Solstad, Wanna Leka and Alan Sigsworth

by on 2012/11/28

Warning: This book argues for small local schools, not only in Ethiopa! Karl-Jan spoke at our Scottish IRN conference in Inverness in 2003, and I have since visited him in his research institute in Bødo, N Norway.

“Reaching out. The place of Small Multi-Grade Schools in Developing Countries: The Case of Ethiopia.”

Book details: The main title highlights a major and important obstacle to reaching the generally agreed upon EFA goal by 2015. In many developing countries, not the least in sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of people live in rural areas with poorly developed infrastructure for school transportation, the tradition of providing relatively large primary schools actually renders school enrolment or regular school attendance impossible for large numbers of school age children, especially girls. Thus, education does not “reach out” to many children. The sub-title sets the scene; when children are unable to reach the school, the school provision must be organized in such a way that basic education reaches the children. The logical solution in sparsely populated areas is to establish networks of small school within reach by a school walk of not more than two-three km. Economically and practically such schools inevitably need to be small one- or two-teacher schools applying multi-grade teaching. During the first three chapters we present a short account of the multi-grade scene, past and present, in industrialised as well as in developing countries, before discussing current conceptions of why literacy and basic education are so vital both from an individual and societal perspective. The point is made that not all elementary schooling is of great value; necessarily it must stimulate learning generally and foster independence, democratic skills and entrepreneurial attitudes among the learners. The education provided needs to be of quality. During the next three chapters we portray the features of quality small multi-grade schools serving small rural communities. The “ideal” features are based on extensive research and literature studies on rural education which are then translated jnto a project proposal for the UNESCO and the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. The remaining three chapters, which make up the major part of the book, are devoted to the presentation and discussion of empirical data from internal and external evaluations connected to a follow-up of several multi-grade schools and their communities in rural Ethiopia. The findings strongly indicate that by locating small schools near the pupils homes, by necessity employing multi.-grade teaching strategies, school enrolment may be greatly boosted, especially for girls, without in any way impairing the quality of the education offered. Whilst the focus is upon Ethiopia, the target country for the multi-grade set up and evaluation, the findings and conclusions are seen as generalisable for developing countries, and particularly so for sub-Saharan African countries.

Reaching out. The place of Small Multi-Grade Schools in Developing Countries: The Case of Ethiopia.
Authors: Karl Jan Solstad, Wanna Leka and Alan Sigsworth
2012 Paperback. 250 pages. Prices (incl. postage): US$ 30; EUR 25; GBP 20; NOK 200; ETHB 60 (for Ethiopian customers only)
ISBN 978-99944-993-5-9
Publisher: Image Printers, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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