About PEAS Promoting Equality in African Schools

What we do 

We are PEAS. We are an international education not-for-profit organisation that believes in a world where all children enjoy an education that unlocks their full potential. To achieve that, our mission is to expand access to sustainably delivered, quality secondary education across Africa. We are passionate about delivering quality education at a low cost, so that we can educate the poorest rural communities in Africa and replicate our model across other communities.

We have a network of 32 schools across Uganda and Zambia educating over 14,000 marginalised students and work together with governments to roll out the PEAS approach in government schools to scale our impact.

External evidence shows that PEAS helps the most marginalised to overcome the barriers they face in accessing secondary school. PEAS students are poorer than students in other school types and we enrol more girls and students with special educational needs and lower primary school results. Despite the disadvantages they face, PEAS schools help students make faster learning progress. 

We are proud of our achievements to date, but we know we can achieve even more. Building on the solid foundations of our programme, we want to grow our impact in both our own secondary school networks and beyond.

Our ambition is to be true exemplars of quality education, and to drive improvements across the education system.

And why do we do it?

The opportunity of secondary education

The UN Sustainable Development Goal for Education targets inclusive and quality education for all and promotes lifelong learning – and secondary education is a key part of this goal.

Many studies show the strong positive effect of secondary education on maternal health, infant mortality, and lifetime earnings (Majgaard & Mingat, 2012). Secondary is the last schooling that most young Africans receive before entering the workforce and is therefore the best opportunity to prepare youth with the relevant skills and knowledge to drive human and economic development and to make the most of the continent’s demographic dividend (Mastercard Foundation, 2020).

The challenges: inequitable access, inadequate quality and insufficient resources

However, many African countries are a long way from achieving universal high-quality secondary education. While primary enrolment is near-universal, only 1 in 10 of the poorest adolescents reach secondary school (UNICEF, 2019). Despite the need, growth rates are slow. In Uganda, for example, where only 1 in 3 attend secondary school, the expansion of secondary school places will struggle to keep pace with population growth (World Bank, 2019).

As well as the physical lack of secondary schools, the cost of secondary education is a barrier to access. In Uganda and Zambia more education costs are shifting to families leaving the poorest families excluded from participation in secondary education.  The situation is worse for girls. Girls experience lower access, higher dropout, and lower transition rates. Child marriage, poverty, son preference, perceived low value of girls’ education and school violence are all contributing factors (World Bank, 2019).

For those who do attend school, quality is generally poor and learning outcomes inadequate. Teacher. absenteeism, low levels of teacher pedagogical skills and subject knowledge, an overloaded curriculum, and  under-funding are all factors (FCDO-Uganda, 2020). In international PISA tests, only 5% and 2.3% of Zambian students reached the minimum proficiency levels in reading and maths respectively (OECD, 2019). Again, the situation is worse for girls.

Insufficient resourcing is a key factor in the dual challenges of inequitable access and inadequate quality. Government spending on education in Uganda and Zambia has been declining and the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated pressure on domestic government, donor and household budgets. Added to this, the existing model of secondary schooling is costly both in terms of infrastructure and payroll. If governments are striving for universal secondary education of sufficient quality, it will be necessary to consider questions of efficiency, resourcing, innovative financing, and partnerships

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