I) Practicum Statement
The Adola community is in Adola Rede District, Guji Zone, Oromia Region of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. This community is composed of predominantly Guji ethnic group but others such as Borena Oromos, Amhara, Tigray, Konso, Somali, and Gurages live together. The 2007 national census reported a total population for Adola is of 110,034, of whom 55,940 were men and 54,094 were women; none of its population were urban dwellers. The majority of the inhabitants said they were Protestant, with 59.91% of the population reporting they observed this belief, while 10.29% of the population were Muslim, 8.13% practiced traditional beliefs, 5.89% practiced Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and 2.23% were Catholic(Wikipedia).
Among Members of the Adola community, the Guji ethnic group do have a well organized traditional and democratic governance, which is commonly known as "Geda System". It has its own unwritten constitution, policies, government structure as well as its constituencies; mainly from the ethnic group. The government organizes power transfer functions every eight years through an open and transparent procedure locally known as "Gumme Gayo" This traditional governance structure is endorsed by the official government of the country. They are responsible to manage conflict within and outside of the community and to address most civic issues. Any innovative idea or whatever intervention coming to the community can't happen without blessing from this elders group. The challenge with this institution, however, is that it is exclusively instituted to address concerns and interests of its own ethnic group, the Gujis alone.
Residents in Adola have attractive natural resources. The location has a great vegetation coverage. Communities out here survive on growing crops, raising livestock, and doing small business. Most of the farmers are small land holders, and they grow crops such as coffee, chat, haricot beans, false Banana, sorghum, teff (Ethiopian millet), various other vegetables, and fruits. Normally they grow coffee, chat, and beans for sale but other crops for household consumption. Some residents also run small business such as retail shops, hotels, guest houses, bars, butcheries, and hawking. The overall economics of the community, though there are few better-off and others at the bottom, in the average it can be seen as subsistence.
Adola is mineral rich hence it is one of the largest gold mine sites in Ethiopia. The mining corporation here extracts gold, tantalum and many other precious metals and stones for international market. This corporation was owned by the government of Ethiopia for long but at the moment it is transferred to the private sector. Many people are attracted to this location in search of jobs and it has created a population pressure on the community and caused a raise in cost of leaving and criminal activities. Commercial sex workers have flooded into the area following the work force and this caused higher prevalence of the STIs including HIV and AIDS. The other main challenge is frequency of big vehicles and trucks coming in and out of the mining site. The roads in the community were not built with the capacity to carry these type of long and heavy vehicles, hence this caused damage to the roads, and deforestation in the location.
On the other side, the corporation has come into the area with various kinds of positive influences. Among others there is employment opportunity for the locals if they have the capacity and want to engage, market for small business, power and water supply to nearby villages, and intensified security services. These infrastructure and organizational arrangements are great entry points to create partnership with the local community.
With a cooperative move between NGOs operating in the area, communities and the local government, at the moment residents have good access to social service such as schools, health facilities, police and the like. Much effort is also in progress to improve quality of these social services. The situation of infrastructure, however, needs much attention. Except the recently done road network, most other infrastructures in the area are very weak. Telecommunication and internet connectivity in this area is one of the poorest in the country. Except the national radio, most FM radio programs available in the capital and regional towns can't cover this area. Very recently, the Adola community radio is put up, which IIRR assisted in its establishment but it is still at its infancy. Print media is almost none existent in the area and it hardly reaches the community.
Practicum central issue
In Adola, both government and non government bodies try hard to deliver services such as health, infrastructure, education and the like. However, coverage of these services is very thin and incomplete. For example, first cycle primary schools (grades 1 to 4) are available in closer proximity; mostly in two to three kilometers radius from community centers, but access to the second cycle primary (grades 5 to 8) is not easy. As the result, most students fail to continue and complete their primary education. Associated challenge to this is the quality of education at the lower primary level. Due to the automatic promotion policy of the education system students with very low academic standing reach grade 4, but due to lack of confidence and capacity to peruse their education at the higher level they prefer to drop out of school and stay at home. Again, quality of the teachers at the upper primary level is low and they are not in a position to create smooth transition from lower grades to upper level. Relevance and completeness of the curriculum is always in question. According to the latest Ministry of Education statistics, these challenges are severe and need due attention from all stakeholders.
Elders of this community say that most residents of this area are traditional people. As the result, they are not open for quick change and modernization. This includes low awareness and lack of attention to education, especially to girls education. Most households hesitate to pay for their children opportunity costs, they rather prefer to keep children at home to assist in the field and household activities or travel to distance places, even crossing the border to Kenya, to make money.
As indicated above, this community has attractive natural resources. People here grow crops, raise livestock, and do small business. Some residents also run small business such as retail shops, hotels, guest houses, bars, butcheries, and hawking. The overall economics of the community, though there are few better-offs and others at the bottom, in the average it can be seen as subsistence. By its nature those who lead subsistence livelihood need intensive labour. All members of any household, including children and the elderly, need to work hard. A paradox here is that even those rich families can't send all their children to school. They need labour of their children and other children in the community to tend their businesses and serve as shepherdess.
Adola is mineral rich where the largest gold mine site in the country is found, hence many people flood into this location in search of jobs and it has created a population pressure on the community and this caused a raise in cost of leaving and criminal activities. As the result, students drop school to do small business in relation to the mining industry, and to give service to the job seekers, while they are still as young as 12 or 13 years of age. School dropout is highly critical in this area especially at the second cycle primary level (5- 8 grades).
Underlying Theory of change
The problem or opportunity
According to the above description of the situation in Adola, the assumption for low attendance and high schools dropout, especially in the second cycle primary (5-8grades), is related to mainly distance to schools, low quality of education, absence of school support system, rampant child labor, economic status of parents and guardians, and other cultural, social and economic factors.
In an effort to reverse this situation and increase students participation and completion of school, we assume that the following interventions need to take place.
- Various other efforts should be applied to raise awareness of the community on the value of education and especially the role of girls education to improve life and livelihoods of the community. With this, parents will be willing to cover opportunity cost for their children.
- One of the key reasons for the students drop out could be failure of the education system to deliver quality education. Teachers should be trained well with the necessary pedagogy and content of the subject. The required curriculum materials should be available and those available need to be relevant. Schools should be child friendly and participation of the community in schools leadership should be promoted.
- Most parents and young people in the area need to develop interest to continue education and to develop life skills. These skills will help parents to generate alternative income to support education of their children. Hence, skills training in the form of functional adult literacy, farmers field schools and pastoralist field schools need to be supported. Moreover, some seed money will encourage those with skills to commence business of their choice.
- The school should have a system in place to control and mitigate challenges related to school dropout.
Immediate outcomes to this include the following:
1) Improved attendance of second cycle (grades 5 to 8) primary school children and youth
2) Improved school system in place to bring in and retain students in second cycle primary schools.
3) Improved participation of parents and the rest of the community to contribute towards retaining students in school
4) Improved economic empowerment and readiness for life for school children and their parents.
My goal for this community would be for marginalized children in Adola to continue their primary education and realize their full potential through basic education.
This practicum basically will have one main strategic component, design the research along the causes of school dropout, data collection, analysis, and report writing. The planing and actual assessment stages were done through consulting various reference materials, visit the community site, talk to relevant people and come up with a blue print to guide the whole practicum process and collect data. The final report is prepared in consultation with the practicum advisor and through inputs from everyone, students and lecturers, who have access to Mahara.
II Practicum Methods Statement
The main goal of my community practicum assignment is to come up with feasible recommendations to increase Second Cycle Primary (Grades 5 to 8) students school attendance and decrease drop out in Adola District, Guji Zone, Oromia Region in Ethiopia, where the problem is most severe.
To inform preparation of the process with reliable data the following appropriate research approaches, methods and tools have been identified:
- Public Records and archival data,
- Qualitative sampling;
- Collective questionnaire;
- Focused Group Discussion (FGD); and
- Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and threats (SWOT)
Below is a brief description of each of the methods, participants in the practicum project, materials that could be used, and the detailed procedures for each.
Public Records and Archival Data
Schools have basic data on registration, attendance, dropout, curriculum materials distribution and students achievement results. Government education offices provide compiled data about teachers and directors qualification and deployment, distribution of support services, students enrollment, retention, transfer, and achievements. The other public offices could also provide overall statistics in the area. Academic institutions will provide research works duly compiled on the subject understudy.
Before commencing any field work, this researcher will refer these records and documentations at the public domain. Data collected in this manner will help him to refine goal of the project, define the research questions and selection of methods and tools of data collection. Hence this is the first step in the process.
Participants to be identified in the sampling process will be 30% of second cycle (grades 5 to 8 primary schools in the project area); 30% of students in these schools; all teachers, school directors, and School community leaders; and 30% of students parents, and all representatives of relevant government bureaus and traditional leaders. The schools are where the data collection can take place. Data from student participants can be collected using the FGD guide notes. Data from all teachers, directors and community leaders can be collected using printed questionnaires. Data from parents can be collected using plenary discussion guides for large groups. Finally, data from government and traditional leaders can be collected using FGD guides prepared particularly for them.
Using the available government statistics, the 30% of schools of the Adola district will be identified. Then orientation on the purpose of the research will be organized and given to the school community, parents, and representatives of government and traditional leaders through all appropriate medium. Using the students registration sheet for each grade level, the 30% students participants will be identified and communicated as to when they will be needed as sources of information. Meanwhile, all teachers, directors, and school community leaders will be informed. Then identification of data sources from government and traditional leaders will be done. Data collection from each of these groups will be conducted according to an agreed upon time frame and using the predesigned data collection tools.
Based on literature reviews and information this researcher has as a person working and living in this community, first the researcher will draft basic questionnaire items for the three type of users. Then he will pilot the tool in three selected schools for all teachers, directors and school community leaders available in these schools. The questionnaires will have a follow up section for the pilot school participants to give their comments on what needs to be improved, included or deleted. Accordingly, the final questionnaire will be prepared and used.
Focused Group Discussion (FGD)
The FGD process needs to be guided by a well articulated guide document to keep track of the discussion, in short period of time, and to emphasize the most important items only. The FGD facilitator, as he takes note of the discussion, will also use a tape recorder to get all the information given during the discussion. Later on he can cross check the tape with his notes and include the missing.
In this project, based on findings of the collective questionnaire, the researcher prepares three type of FGD guides, one for students, the other for government representatives, and the last for traditional leaders. Students FGD takes for each grade and sex groups separately, but representatives from the government offices and traditional leaders could be in their respective groups. Data collected in this process shall be used to triangulate information gathered though other methods and tools.
Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and threats (SWOT)
Within the selected target schools, all directors, teachers, and school community leaders can generate their own SWOT data. In the same manner, representatives of relevant government offices and traditional leaders will do their own. Along with data collected using other methods and tools, the SWOT findings from these three sources could be triangulated.
The SWOT analysis needs understanding of what is going to each component of the analysis and how they are interconnected. Hence there is a need of giving brief flip chart presentation of what it means. Then participants being in small groups and using markers and flip charts, they can jot down their findings. Then that can be consolidated as one document.