The Eco-Schools ESD interventions in selected schools in South Western Uganda have registered notable outcomes. The outcomes were verified through a comparative survey of selected Eco and non Eco-schools in the program area. CECOD Uganda conducted the survey in 29 sub-counties in the three districts of Mbarara, Isingiro and Bushenyi where the Eco-schools program is being implemented. 44 Eco-schools along with a control group of 44 non Eco-schools were selected from these sub-counties to participate in the survey.
The survey established the following:
The results show that from the years of the implementation of the Eco-schools program the school drop-out rate reduced substantially from 5 percent in 1 percent in 5years.
Statistics disaggregated by gender further show that implementation of Eco-schools has a much larger effect on drop-out rates for girls than for boys. The dropout rate for boys reduced to a third (from 4.4 % to 1.4 %), while that for girls is reduced to one-tenth (from 5.9 to 0.6 %)!
The only noteworthy difference is related to sanitation where a larger share of non-Eco-Schools stated that (lack of or bad) sanitation was causing drop-outs (16% in non-Eco against 7% in Eco-schools).
There is a high likelihood that most of the pupils reported as drop-outs simply change schools and will likely move to eco-schools. Where do the perceived drop-outs go and why?
Generally, factors of change in schools include: (i) School factors: Include academic performance, school fees, school environment and sanitation. (ii) Out of school: long distance, family relocation and migration.
There are however Eco-school specific factors such as green flag award, pupils` parliament, innovative teaching and micro projects and only these are mentioned by pupils in Eco school FGD. Therefore whereas pupils in general are attracted by the same factors, the additional eco-school attributes play a critical role in the decision of where to change school and greatly contribute to academic performance.
The discussions reveal an overwhelming number of pupils in Eco-schools indicating that the learners (themselves) decided compared to non eco-schools where the parent/guardian decided. Learner decision making is perceived by Eco-schools as an empowering tool for young people to take responsibility.
The drop out rate is comparable to the national average of 4.4% and is consistently lower in Eco-Schools compared to non Eco-schools in all the years under study.
There is also a likelihood that most students reported as drop-outs could have simply changed to a different school. The causes of drop-out center on vulnerability, teaching and learning process.
Forced marriages and sanitation are reported by girls and affect a considerable percentage. What is interesting is that these factors are not cited by girls in eco-schools.
More pupils are attracted to Eco-schools compared to Non eco-schools and are likely to be retained in such schools. The specific eco attraction factors are pupils` parliament, green flag, micro projects and innovative teaching data referred to as action based learning.
Academic performance remains the traditional motivating and retaining factor in schools. CECOD –FEE Uganda Eco-Schools approach however fuses in additional attraction and retention features namely; green flag award, pupils` parliament, micro projects and innovative teaching that keep learners motivated,
There is need for the Ugandan government to mainstream the Eco-schools ESD approach in the Education system using the Rights Based Approach. Interventions...