Session: Improving Education Quality and Equality through Strengthening Inclusive Education and Local Accountabilities in Pakistan and Afghanistan: Preliminary Results (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

89 Improving Education Quality and Equality through Strengthening Inclusive Education and Local Accountabilities in Pakistan and Afghanistan: Preliminary Results

Friday, January 13, 2023: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Alhambra, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: International Social Work & Global Issues
Symposium Organizer:
Yiqi Zhu, PhD, Adelphi University
Mara McKown, Washington University in Saint Louis
Education Equality and Quality in Afghanistan and Pakistan (EEQAP) is a five-year project aims to strengthen the quality inclusive equation through using innovative participatory approach to build community-based accountabilities, in particular for children with disabilities in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Sustainable Development Goals have created a strong impetus to focus on education quality and equity and address contextual complexities that sustain exclusion. This focus is highly relevant given that millions of children in Low and Middle-Income Countries are leaving school without basic numeracy and literacy skills (Pritchett, 2013; UNESCO, 2012). There is growing recognition that effective, efficient and equitable education for all will not be achieved without better accountability (UNESCO, 2016). We aim at improving school management systems (procedures, teaching protocols and children support system) through bettering social accountability mechanisms using Community Based System Dynamics (CBSD). Teachers are trained in inclusive education and effective teaching methods to accommodate the needs of disadvantaged children. Community members and children are sensitized to the importance of education and inclusion of disadvantaged groups.

EEQAP has five specific aims: 1) to identify learning processes and existing mechanism of social accountabilities in rural primary schools of Afghanistan and Pakistan. 2) to strengthen community participation in the accountability process using community group model building. 3) to design and implement interventions to strengthen social accountability based on the community group model building sessions 4) to assess the impact of intervention on the psychosocial and academic outcomes of children and 5) to build engagement of national partners in innovative thinking pertaining to education equality and quality to further achieve sustainable development goals.

To date, we have conducted three waves of approximately 400 Community Based Group Model Building workshops in respectively 40 and 62 schools of Afghanistan and Pakistan with children aged 6-12, teachers, parents and members of school management committees. Participants elaborated causal loop diagrams describing the challenges of school inclusion and identifying interactions between factors that impact inclusive education. Following each GMB workshop, school stakeholders identified jointly action plans to improve inclusion in their school. Three Non-Governmental Organizations, Norwegian Afghanistan Committee and Swedish Committee for Afghanistan in Afghanistan and National Rural Support Program in Pakistan supported school communities implement three rounds of action plans in 102 schools.

In this symposium, we will present three studies as part of the EEQAP project. The first study investigates the perception of children on what inclusion entails. The second study explores teachers understanding of accountability. The third study reports children cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes of the intervention using regression models. The three studies contribute to understanding of mechanisms that improve inclusive education, show the importance of engaging school stakeholders in the school decision-making process and identify which learning outcomes, where and for which children. Overall, the bottom-up participatory approach promoting community engagement appears to be key to children academic performance and cognitive development. Community group model building workshops have been found to be effective in engaging community in defining locally relevant action plans.

* noted as presenting author
Understanding of Inclusive Education in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Jean-Fran├žois Trani, Washington University in Saint Louis
Promoting Social Accountability in Primary Rural Schools of Afghanistan and Pakistan
Mustafa Rfat, MSW, MPA, Washington University in Saint Louis
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