Complementary Basic Education

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Helpdesk Query:
  1. What countries implement complementary basic education (CBE) programmes (or similar programmes) which support out of school children to re-integrate into mainstream schools?
  2. Provide the evidence of what works best for the programme to become part of the normal sustainable MOE business, in particular where should the leadership and coordination roles lie at national level?
  3. What is the evidence on ensuring effective cooperation between Government at all levels and Civil Society Organisations to improve access, completion and (re) integration of out of school children?

The evidence reviewed for this paper suggests that:

  • Many countries implement CBE programmes and they are very diverse; some have been initiated by the state and others by non state actors such as non government organisations. Some CBE programmes are time bound and some are on-going.  A number of countries have more than one CBE programme targeting different sub populations.
  • There is substantial robust evidence suggesting that CBE’s have achieved considerable success in meeting the needs of underserved populations, not only in terms of access and equity but also in completion, learning outcomes and a return to formal schooling.
  • Not all CBE programmes have Government sponsorship and support. Where they do, it is usually, but not always, the Ministry of Education (MoE) where overall responsibility for coordination lies.  However, it can be different sections within the MoE which take the lead.
  • As CBE systems offer an alternative means to access the same basic education as children in regular Government Schools, rather than an alternative education, they seem to be more often managed and co-ordinated by the Basic Education Division rather than the Non Formal. Nevertheless, there is little to no concrete evidence available that this approach is what works best rather that this is what makes sense in light of the nature and aims of CBE. Moreover, evaluations of some CBE programmes indicate that strong connections to the formal basic education is one of the major success factors as it accords some parity of esteem with public formal education, which generates public confidence.
  • There is some emerging evidence of what works to ensure CBE programmes are successful and therefore, more likely to become part of national education plans and regular MOE business. One factor that is consistently present across the evidence is the policy space accorded by the national government and their willingness to engage in innovative partnerships with other state and non state actors.
  • Although there is substantial evidence about why it is important to establish innovative partnerships and cooperation between state and non state actors, there is currently little evidence on how this can be established and maintained.  The little evidence there is to hand indicates that the most effective ways to ensure cooperation between the Government and other actors is to define clear roles and responsibilities, which are centred on what each partner does best.
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