The Chenab Development Foundation (CDF) is improving access to quality education for girls in inaccessible areas of Layyah by introducing 15 Rural Girls Education Centers (RGECs) in the district. These RGECs are non-formal lower-secondary education facilities, established at the village level, and they provide education to girls in grades 6-8, after which the students are given the option to pursue higher education at Allama Iqbal Open University via distance learning. Girls who have completed primary school education within one year prior, or who have dropped out of school while in grades 6-8, are eligible for enrolment in the RGECs.
The target villages for the 15 RGECs are identified through a needs assessment, and local female teachers are hired and trained to teach the curriculum for Grades 6-8. The students complete their 3-year lower secondary education in 2 years in these RGECs, with coursework for grade 6 and half of grade 7 completed in one year, and the second half of grade 7 and grade 8 in the second year. Quarterly exams are conducted in accordance with the Pakistani government's system for student assessment.
The RGEC model places particular emphasis on the capacity building of teachers. It aims to provide the teachers with extensive training at the start of the project and has devised a unique way of monitoring their performance and punctuality, through an SMS based monitoring system. Parents and community members can send a SMS message on a centralized number to register feedback, and the information is fed into a centralized database at the CDF field office. The teachers are remunerated on the basis of per student enrolled and continuing in school, as well as student performance in quarterly exams.
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The RGEC project was launched as a pilot in January 2013 with a goal of establishing 15 Rural Girl Education Centers and enrolling at least 25 girls per center. A needs assessment was conducted to determine the target areas for setting up the RGECs, and teachers identified through this process suggested community spaces that could be utilized for the centers. Through June 2013, 15 RGECs have been established and an estimated 275 girls are being educated at these centers.
CDF aims to make this project sustainable after the pilot ends by charging a nominal tuition fee in order to inculcate community ownership; this fee is expected to cover teacher salaries.
Monitoring & Evaluation
An SMS based monitoring system is used to ensure the punctuality and consistency of teachers and satisfaction of parents. It also creates an automated response record from all stakeholders, particularly the CDF education coordinator and higher management, which shows the extent of timeliness and efficiency in addressing grievances from the community.
Additionally, the project submits monthly and quarterly progress reports, which are informed by student evaluations, education coordinator visits, and quarterly visits from higher management.