Marginalised groups – beliefs

This is the third blog in a series looking at results from recent research undertaken with partners in East Africa to determine how COCO is working inclusively to ensure all children have equal access to education. There are other blogs on gender and disability, and there’ll soon be one on sexuality.

Unfortunately, children from marginalised groups are often left behind and do not have equal access to education, for a variety of reasons. One of the groups frequently left behind is children belonging to a different religious or tribal group to the dominant group in the region. This blog will look into how COCO is ensuring this is not the case in the communities that we work in.

The results

91% of respondents feel ensuring people of all religions and tribes have equal access to education is very important, and the remaining 9% felt it was somewhat important. 73% of respondents also feel that COCO’s work in ensuring people of all religions and tribes have equal access to education is very effective and 18% believe COCO’s work in somewhat effective. Unfortunately, 9% feel COCO’s work in not effective.

What has already been achieved?

The main thing respondents expressed that COCO is doing to ensure people of all tribes and religions have equal access to education is by employing non-discriminatory policies and making sure there are no restrictions or segregations within schools. 82% of respondents mentioned this. COCO works among all religions and tribes. At the MLASEO nursery, small loans are given to families to ensure all girls, of any religion or tribe, can access education. One respondent also stated that all religions and tribes are covered class as part of ethical studies in the school and one school is even working to break the religious and ethical barriers in the community as well.

The next steps

Although 27% of respondents believe that nothing more needs to be done, a few suggestions were made by the remaining 73%. The spirit of unity in diversity should be continued, along with enabling equal opportunity. There was, however, a need for more adequate infrastructure in the school to ensure all religions and tribes have equal access to education. There was also a suggestion that more focus on inclusion was needed in one school. Working as a community organisation and not a religious organisation appeared to be important as well. One respondent explained that by printing materials to give to stakeholders, discrimination could be prevented even more, along with more community education.

The challenges

45% of the respondents explained that there were not many challenges that would be faced when trying to ensure equal access to education for all religions and tribes as the community was peaceful. However, there are some challenges that communities may still face. Each tribe and religion has different beliefs and therefore may have differing opinions about some topics.  Some have a strong political affiliation and incitement, while others do not; this could cause some big challenges. Some parents may also want to send their child to a religious school and not just a community run one. There was a worry from one respondent that school attendance can be interfered due to prayer, for example. While these challenges do exist, there was not a majority view on what possible challenges there may be; this suggests that each challenge mentioned may only be applicable to the community that the respondent is working in.

It seems that in the majority of cases, religious views and belonging to different tribes does not pose a major issue to students.  The community schools do not discriminate according to these beliefs, so all children have equal access to the quality education being offered.  This is in keeping with prior observations, that in most communities people of different beliefs live harmoniously together and accept each other’s differing traditions. 

COCO will work to overcome these small tensions and work to ensure that children of all religions and tribes have equal access to school places. Donate now to help achieve this.


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