5 Takeaways from the 2016 Asia Education Summit

The Asia Education Summit took place last week in Bangkok. Governments, NGOs, UN bodies and donors from all over Asia came together to discuss flexible learning strategies to target Out of School Children (OOSC). A team from ISF was lucky to attend and here are some of the key things we learned:

1 Numbers matter

From donors to NGOs, everyone agreed understanding your community and measuring your impact are key in ensuring success. To help OOSC, we need to know if what we’re doing is working. Are they progressing, are they engaged, are they moving on to employment? Without knowing the numbers, we can’t see if we’re achieving our goals of providing a better future for OOSC.

2 Every child is different

Globally 121 million children are out of school. But each child is different and the reasons for them being out of school are complex and varied. More girls are out of school than boys for example. This gender difference is starkest when children are poor. They also come from different backgrounds. When OOSC do enter education, they don’t start from scratch. They have had lives before going to school.

We need to take into account where the child comes from, what kept him/her from going to school and what they were doing before they entered our care. Not just to make sure we are sensitive to their possible needs and trauma’s, but also to help us build on their already existing skills and keep them engaged at the level they are at.

3 We need to collaborate to succeed

OOSC are a country-, region- and continent-wide phenomenon. Their myriad problems can’t be addressed by one organisation alone. To make sure we don’t duplicate efforts and give each child the care and support they need, organisations, governments and communities need to work together.

4 Getting children in school is only the beginning

A speaker from India shared a story of one of her students. When the student was asked what being ‘enrolled in school’ means, the girl said “being enrolled means my name is in school.” We need to make sure it is not just children’s names that are in school, but their bodies, hearts and minds as well. When students are engaged and see the value of education, they are more likely to stick with it and find a way out of poverty.

5 Community engagement is key
It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. It certainly takes a village to ensure a child stays in school. Support from parents and village leaders is a necessity. We need to make sure they understan