UK Aid Direct’s contribution to ensuring every child is in school and learning

Categories: COVID-19 pandemic, Education, Project impact, Women
16 June 2021

Impact and reflections

UK Aid Direct, funded by the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), is a multi-sectoral fund supporting the direct delivery of poverty reduction interventions by small and medium civil society organisations (CSOs).

With the Global Education Summit taking place 28-29 July 2021 we consider how education has been a consistent focus for many in the UK Aid Direct portfolio. Small and medium-sized CSOs have provided responsive, locally rooted, and locally led, interventions, and connected them into wider policy and institutional issues.

Since 2018 UK Aid Direct has supported:

  • 30 education projects across 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia.

To date these projects have supported over 148,000 marginalised and vulnerable children, and over 5,000 teachers, head teachers and school manager.

Responses have included: early childhood education for marginalised children in Tanzania, provision of inclusive teacher training around special educational needs in Ghana, and support to refugee youth to access higher education in Lebanon.

There is a strong focus on girls’ education through these projects and this includes support around sexual and reproductive health and rights, ICT skills, preventing early marriage, and tackling gender-based violence.

Strategies taken to support children’s education within UK Aid Direct projects

The projects funded through UK Aid Direct are responding to the educational needs of children and youth through a diverse range of approaches and strategies that are contextually relevant and place children and youth at the centre. From local to national levels, projects are working closely with communities, schools, and government authorities as well as children and youth themselves. Some commonalities across the portfolio are detailed below:

  • Starting early – early childhood education provides a critical foundation for future learning, with benefits seen throughout a person’s life. Play-based approaches at this age are also central to development, and UK Aid Direct projects have supported this approach with training, awareness-raising, resources, and the provision of playgrounds and play materials.
  • Whole school approaches – UK Aid Direct grant holders have focussed not just on supporting teachers in their individual training and skills, but also on working closely with school management, parent-teacher associations, senior teachers, inspectors and education officers. They have considered the physical and psychosocial environment of schools too. For example, with basic infrastructure, psychological help and protection from violence and abuse.
  • Empowering children – UK Aid Direct projects have enabled girls and young women to develop skills, confidence, and self-esteem to challenge discrimination and marginalisation. They have increased knowledge of their rights and sexual and reproductive health, provided safe spaces like Girls Clubs, to discuss issues they face, developed peer support, and critically, worked with boys to challenge existing perceptions and beliefs that lead to gender inequality.
  • Sustainable and inclusive teacher training – by working closely with local and national education authorities, UK Aid Direct grant holders have supported the quality and inclusiveness of teacher training curricula and helped with the development of quality materials.
  • Strong engagement with communities and parents – UK Aid Direct projects have worked extensively with local communities to challenge and change negative behaviours and attitudes around education, build support and investment from communities into their children’s education and schools, and tackle the social exclusion of marginalised children.

Read more about individual education projects

You can read more on the impact of the Jo Cox Memorial grants in our latest case studies:

Young girl with white head covering holds pen in school setting. EdUKAid.
Photo credit: EdUKAid were awarded a Small Charities Challenge Fund to deliver a two-year menstrual health management project to disadvantaged girls in rural Tanzania.