What is ARISE?
ARISE: Action for Reducing Inequalities in Education is a four-year Action launched in March 2020 and funded through Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) implemented by the Consortium of NGOs and research institutes from Western Balkans and Turkey.
All national strategies of IPA beneficiary countries, in one way or another, specify as one of their priorities poverty reduction and inclusive education in relation to various categories of children, including those with low SES background. Inclusion of low SES children is usually addressed by efforts to increase participation in education and prevent the school drop-out. This Action aims to contribute to improving participation in education of children with low SES background, and also to the drop-out prevention. However, we intend to do more than that by supporting schools develop sustainable inclusion practices and use examples of good practice to inform policy making.
The final beneficiaries of this Action are students from lower SES background. Research shows that poverty affects cognitive development of children more than factors such as parents' education or parents’ cognitive abilities. Poor and low SES children perform significantly worse than their middle-class peers on many indicators of academic success such as: test scores, grade retention, course failures, high school graduation rate, high school dropout rate and completed years of schooling. Studies that dealt with the effects of poverty on socio-emotional development showed that children growing up poor are more likely than middle-class children to display social–emotional problems in two broad areas: (1) externalizing interpersonal problems, such as aggression, destructive behaviour, and hyperactivity, and (2) internalizing intrapersonal problems, such as anxiety, depression, and fearfulness.
Two level approach
Overall objective of the Action is to strengthen the capacities of CSOs (both the co-applicants and the grassroots organisations to be selected) for policy development and advocacy in the area of educational equity through regional cooperation and building national coalitions. The issue of poverty and students affected by poverty has to be tackled on two levels: on the one hand, educational and social policies can provide long-term solutions to creating equity in education, whereas pilot interventions at school level address immediate needs of students with low SES background, also providing lessons for the policies. Therefore, the specific objective of the Action is created from these two different tracks of action. At policy level it is important to engage in advocacy and constructive policy dialogue with governments regarding support to low socio-economic status (SES) students, and build national partnerships for the same cause through supporting local grassroots organisations to be effective advocates and raising awareness among educational stakeholders on the effect of SES on schooling and wellbeing of children. While, on the school level, it is important to use regional and international experience to design an effective school development programme on support of low SES students and during the course of the Action alleviate impact of poverty on school achievement and overall well-being of low SES students in 25 schools.
The choice of target groups was guided by the Social Ecological Model (SEM), a theory-based framework for understanding the different levels in a social system that play a role in determining behaviours, in order to identify the leverage points for promoting positive change. The SEM looks at five levels of society that can influence behaviour: individual, interpersonal, organisational, community, and public policy, as diagrammed in Figure 1. The model is widely recognised as a useful starting point for change campaigns in the field of social justice.
Figure 1. Social Ecological Model (SEM)
Five primary target groups for this Action are:
Expected impact of the Action
This Action strengthens technical capacity of eight Consortium members and six selected grassroots organisations to be effective and accountable actors able to engage constructively with relevant stakeholders in the area of educational equity at central and local levels by:
Also, the action enhances technical capacity of 25 selected schools and educational stakeholders (parents and school community) from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia to develop sustainable practices within schools which reduce the impact of poverty on achievements of low SES students. The schools will receive technical assistance and financial support to develop and implement action plans addressing the needs of low SES children, including participation in national learning events and exchange of experience with other schools.
Policy makers and educational stakeholders, as a specific target group at national level, will enhance their knowledge on the effect of SES in children’s well-being and best practices in the Region through participation in national coalitions of relevant stakeholders working on poverty and exclusion issues, the Regional Policy Lab, as well conferences organised at national and international level.
Economic and Social level
The economic and social perspective of social groups depends considerably on their equal participation in the education system, as well as on their school performance. This particularly applies to vulnerable groups, which includes our final beneficiaries - students from low SES background. This Action supports CSOs to engage in advocacy and constructive policy dialogue with governments, raise awareness among education stakeholders and pilot interventions targeting low SES students at school level. Also, the Action helps increase awareness among policy makers and educational stakeholders on the effect of SES on schooling and wellbeing of children. Once measures designed to address the needs of low SES students are reflected in national and local policies, there is a potential to alleviate the impact of poverty in their performance, thus improving their social and economic perspectives.
Through participation in consultations at national level and awareness raising activities, research and policy analysis, and piloting interventions targeting low SES students in 25 schools, the Consortium members, with help from selected grassroots organisations and other relevant stakeholders, are well positioned to engage in evidence-based advocacy and influence policies and practices at central, local and school level, to better meet the needs of low SES students. The Action will support Consortium members to prepare for the dialogue by developing policy options on the topics of interest and table the proposals leading to development of policies and legislation affecting low SES students. In this way, the Action contributes to creating an environment which promotes partnership and dialogue between civil society and public institutions, thus further developing participatory culture and accountability in the society.