Presentation of the ECB: purpose and characteristics
CBE classrooms provide out-of-school, vulnerable and excluded children aged 6-9 and primarily girls, alternative child-friendly places of learning where they cannot access formal schooling. Although these classrooms are meant to meet academic standards in a deliberately safe and secure learning environment, it is recognized that these classrooms face significant challenges. They are found in generally non-standard settings, for example community homes, with students often intellectually or emotionally unable to engage in standard learning arrangements, with limited resources to help them or their teachers meet a variety of learning, psychosocial and physical needs; and modest support from supervisors, in-service professional development, or peer teachers.
The coordination of CBE implementation, initially by design and now necessarily by default, is entirely decentralized. The delivery and quality of the program is ultimately responsive and accountable to the community, with their Shura responsible for monitoring and mentoring, progressively with parents and community leaders. As they become available, local resources should be supported by Implementing Partners (IPs), Technical Extenders (TEs), and Academic Supervisors.
Where possible, CBEs are clustered, allowing for professional exchange and moral support, shared expertise and resources and, critically in this case, collaborative advocacy and effective action to assess natural hazards and human origin and put in place viable safety and security measures – including tools and training.
Teachers should be trained in child-centered pedagogy, both concepts and methods, and include clear and practical strategies to protect children and foster resilience. It is unclear how much of the 14-day program is currently taught in CBE and what effect in terms of classroom behaviour; or whether safeguarding, resilience and social-emotional learning (SEL) content is covered.
The core messages that underpin all of these CSSF guidelines should be included in any training material developed for the CBE, for Shura and for teachers. Mentoring teachers on ways to manage children’s income and well-being is crucial in the new context of change and uncertainty, including strategies to ensure their physical and psychosocial safety. Their learning should not just take place in a single 2-week training event, but be integrated into all interactions with teachers over the course of a semester, taking into account that teachers themselves are likely to be increasingly vulnerable to stress and disorientation, and therefore the use of reactive adult learning methods is essential.
It is essential that all actions undertaken to establish and maintain CBE classrooms strengthen community ownership as a necessary condition for effective implementation and continuity. This means, among other things, being clear about what is needed to protect children and helping them protect themselves, being realistic about what is achievable and, from there, engaging with the community and families to understand and s Engage in the essential actions needed.