News|ALL|06 April 2023

Street Child's 'why'
and our 'how'

Anna Bowden

Somewhere beween one-third and one-half of all out-of-school children live in regions affected by extended crisis, such as conflict or natural disasters (think seasonal flooding or drought). In these locations it can be incredibly difficult to access or benefit from any kind of education: schools are closed for lengthy periods, destroyed or targeted by armed groups; teachers have fled; families are displaced; and / or education systems have collapsed.

So as an impact-focused organization whose ‘why’ is to see all children safe, in school and learning, because we believe that every child deserves that, how do we address this? For Street Child, it's all about the model. To get kids who are experiencing the above challenges into education and learning, your model needs these crucial elements:

- A multi-faceted intervention focusing on the critical levers to impact; and

- Local partnerships for a unique reach into the worst affected communities.

1. The intervention.

In crisis contexts the barriers to education are complex and interlinked, so we bring together education, child protection and livelihoods support to address all social, economic and structural barriers to schooling.

i) Swift, foundational learning in numeracy and literacy.

Based on the Teaching at the Right Level methodology (TaRL) our accelerated learning program (ALP) catalyzes catch-up learning and the attainment of foundational learning levels for children who have fallen behind because their education has been disrupted. Depending on context it can take between three to six months to achieve foundational levels, so it works for children who are on the move; and the schedule is flexible, so it can also be effective for children who have other responsibilities (such as child labor). If appropriate or possible it can support children back into the classroom at the right grade for their age, or into income generation and entrepreneurship if schooling is no longer an option / desirable for them.

The ALP is always adapted for context, dovetailing with government education priorities and curricula to strengthen the local education system itself, and can be delivered in-person or remotely depending on need. Flagship programs delivering the ALP include Marginalized No More in Nepal, where 11,300 women and girls of the Musahar caste rose from 4% literacy to 55%, and Liberia, where as part of the Liberian Government’s public/private education partnership (LEAP) we raised learning levels across 12 schools by 0.5SDs and were named Top Performer in an RCT by the Center for Global Development.

ii) Child protection

Children who do not feel safe and / or have had traumatic experiences such as violence, displacement or food insecurity struggle to benefit from education even if they can access school. If we want the world’s most vulnerable children to not just sit in a classroom, but to actually learn to read, write and count, they have to feel safe. To make this happen, we provide vital wrap-around child protection support such as mental health and psychosocial support, and therapy through play and sport. We also support schools to become the beating heart of their communities: safe, open, supportive spaces where children can access food, clean water, and latrines. Crucially, we also train community child protection specialists to spot the signs of trauma, and establish and / or strengthen protection systems so that children who need services, or who are at risk, get immediate, quality support.

iii) Livelihoods & entrepreneurship

Adults living in crisis zones often struggle to establish or maintain income generation activities, which in turn reduces their ability to afford their children’s education. For longer-term resilience and recovery Street Child supports families to kick-start and / or strengthen entrepreneurship activities following an acute crisis - for example a flash flood that washes away a store front and business goods - through our WISE Award-winning Family Business for Education Program. We also work with families in natural disaster zones to adapt their income generation activities to mitigate the effects of climate change, including drought or flash floods. Flagship programs include our TVET program in Somalia, where we train youth in modern vocational skills such as digital marketing instead of market-saturated or failing enterprises such as basket weaving. In Kenya we are supporting women farmers to transition out of smallholding and into agribusiness, with diversified income streams, modern farming techniques, and access to capital and the market.

2. Localization model.

To truly reach and have a positive impact on the worst affected communities, Street Child believes that partnerships with local-level NGOs and civil society organizations is vital. We deliver entirely with excellent, vetted local partners who are already at the front line, and who have networks into and existing ties and trust with the worst affected communities. This keeps costs low and impact high. Read more about our localization approach.

Contact to find out more about our intervention, our localization approach, or the combination of the two!