♣ Decentralizing

"♣": Estrategias específicas empleadas por los estudios de caso para incrementar su nivel de auto-sustentabilidad.Pueden estar en inglés o español. Por favor usa el traductor del menú lateral 

"♣": Specific strategies used by the case studies to increase their degree of self-sustainability.They might be in English or in Spanish. Please use the side menu translator
  • The families of the SNSP’s children contribute to the program with cash or with donations of teaching aids or learning materials. Parents pay 10% of the cost of the health check-ups provided to the children. These contributions from the families are made in spite of the fact that families need their children’s contribution to the household income, and cannot easily afford to wait ten years for their children to start earning.

At a community level, the families’ contribution is even larger. The communities generally provide the buildings for the Night Schools and other activities (such as the Children’s Parliament, fairs, workshops, and meetings), and contribute voluntarily with cash, food, time, or work to the realization of the program. The supervision and management of the SNSP is largely done by Village Education Committees and the Children’s Parliament, both volunteer organizations run by the community. Ultimately, almost the only expenses that are not covered by the community are the teachers’ salaries and some costs for activities that they cannot bear.

The extent of this community involvement is also evident in the number of people associated with an extensively decentralized social structure that is integrated with the Barefoot College’s initiatives in this domain: 150 full-time staff, 500 half-time staff, and around 5000 honorary members. This is both important and unusual, given that policy makers and policies are usually very far from implementation sites and beneficiaries.

The degree of ownership that the communities have of the program means that it already bears the hallmarks of sustainability, given that development interventions are generally successful to the extent that they are appropriated by and integrated into the communities where they are targeted. Such interventions are at greater risk of failure when project funding ceases or when external project advisers are withdrawn, probably because community ‘take-up’ or ‘buy-in’ has been limited, rendering the project unsustainable without such community investment and appropriation.

  • An important feature of the SNSP is that it is monitored by a Children’s Parliament. The children who are members of this forum, elected every two years by students attending the Night Schools, choose a Prime Minister who works with a student cabinet monitoring the work of the teachers, the functionality of the solar lanterns, the availability of safe drinking water, and the provision of teaching and learning materials. They also encourage children who have dropped out to attend school. The Prime Minister organizes monthly meetings in which the ministers raise any problems in the schools, ask adults for explanations, and prompt solutions. The cabinet is empowered to hire and fire teachers, and to expose cases of corruption. Some Night Schools’ teachers occasionally do not turn up for class, but children in the parliament help to create awareness of the potential problem so that it doesn’t happen very often. The forum clearly also serves to create awareness in the communities about the children’s points of view and needs. The general view is that although some problems might take some time to be solved, the system works. Moreover, “the concept of the Children’s Parliament is integral to the curriculum at the Night Schools. Children attending the Night Schools get to know more about political systems and structures by actually going through the learning process” (SWRC, 2012k).
  • One of the main outcomes of UNESCO’s Expert Meeting on Intercultural Education (UNESCO, 2006a) were the Guidelines on Intercultural Education (UNESCO, 2006b), which set a general overview of the main principles with which to identify an intercultural education model: a model that builds upon the diverse systems of knowledge and experiences of the learners and their communities, and uses methods that are culturally appropriated, that are based on practical, participatory, and contextualized learning techniques; a model whose teachers are familiarized with practical, participatory, and contextualized teaching methods; a model in which there is strong interaction between the school and the community, both involved in the educational processes; and a model in which there is vast participation of learners, parents and other community members, teachers, and administrators in the school management, supervision and control, decision-making, planning and the implementation of education programs, and the development of curricula, and learning and teaching materials. As can be appreciated in Table 1, the SNSP is certainly a practical demonstration of such concepts, since it highlights the importance of co-management, relevant education, and strong context integration in order to ensure equal access to quality education.
  • Other strategies are specifically addressed to avoid creating dependency relations. In concrete, the community sponsorship programs are intended for a specific target: ensure the community’s self-sustainability in an agreed period of time. The money to find the partner enterprise comes from ChildFund’s main office and it is recovered from the money the enterprise provides in the sponsorship budget. ChildFund is an officially registered civil organization and each of its local offices is an officially registered civil organization as well, and not a part of ChildFund’s main office. So the budget goes to increasing the community’s Civil Association’s self-sustainability through capacity building programs (training them on getting funds, managing programs, establishing cooperatives, increasing social participation, etc.). The enterprise and ChildFund make an agreement where the local Civil Association (the community organized) ensures results in a certain period of time (10, 20 years), and if there are not results (periodical evaluations are made) the funding is stopped. In short: the partnership contemplates an Exit Plan for both the enterprise and the ChildFund’s main office with the intention of ensuring a decentralized development program
  • Contemplates the training of local stakeholders to follow-up, and supervises its implementation in creating “microcenters” where they meet once a month to disseminate innovations and resolve problems together. For this purpose they are currently preparing a virtual platform as a complementary instrument.
  • Consolidate a network of “multiplier” agents with the Night Schools alumni, especially those that participated in the children’s parliament
  • Uses participatory mapping as the departing point of all of its programs. This methodology not only enhances people’s ownership but also enables the description of people’s integral perspective about their community, its components, conflicts, resources, problems, needs, as well as the possible strategies to respond to all of them.
  • PHH works in partnerships with the communities, creating or strengthening local organizations that are independent from PHH itself, thus limiting its financial and administrative responsibility and ensuring their autonomy (Osava, 2013).
  • The Assembly, which has (as one of its objectives) the constant evaluation of the project, is made up of Commissions that are in charge of organizing various issues related to the Tumin Project. Thus, there are Commissions on Education (to teach children new economic values such as solidarity), Communication (broadcasting the project), Distribution (which dispenses the Tumin), etc.
  • The prototype alternative market model promoted by Tlaloc Barters Group and that inspired the Tumin Project, comprises, according to Luis Lopezllera’s “Money is not enough, what to do?” Manual (2008), the integration of an alternative economic system that includes at least the following:

1. The granting of memberships for partners.

2. The signing of a letter of commitment agreed on the rules of the exchange.

3. The creation of a user directory based on the planning of a consumer basket (that defines what kind of partners are needed, including foreign partners, if the locals cannot fulfil the need).

4. The training in person and/or through a brief Operation Manual.

5. The provision of the barter/exchange vouchers to the partners.

6. The creation of a regular newsletter that accompanies and strengthens the project.

7. The creation and distribution of educational and publicizing materials.

8. The establishment of a promotional team (volunteers).

9. The organization of regular meetings for the project’s development.

10. The organization of decisional deliberative assemblies of associated partners (decentralization).

11. The establishment of cellular stores for the public (that link together, give certainty, and facilitate the buying of products for those who cannot attend the market’s meetings because of logistical problems).

12. The organization of local fairs, private or public, gatherings, visits, courses, and workshops (introductory lectures and retreats).

13. The organization of regional or national meetings (with similar networks).

14. The use of advanced communication and dissemination means.

15. The procurement of infrastructure and support resources (property for the shop and office, meeting room, exhibition room, furniture, telephone, computer, projector, transportation, support fund, etc.).

  • the College’s current budgeting process is already highly decentralized, which means that there are many actors supervising it at the same time. After receiving a donation or grant, the College’s main office, known as the Tilonia office, sends the money directly (that is, bank to bank) to its branch offices – the Field Research Centres (FRC) and the Associated Partner Organizations – who, in turn, transfer it to the Village Education Committees (VEC)’s accounts. The latter are managed together by a member of the FRC and those of the VEC, which are closer to the communities. A mechanism to ensure certainty on how the money is spent would strengthen the model.
  • The degree of ownership felt by the communities of these projects enhances their trust of the Barefoot College and their confidence to send their children to the Night Schools. The opportunity costs of school attendance and community involvement in the projects are compensated by this sense of ownership, which is also a result of a widely decentralized budgeting process. The communities are deeply involved with the SNSP: they manage it, they contribute to it, and they benefit from it.
  • Many initiatives have also managed to foster local participation and ownership by decentralizing the management of the programs and their budgets — which also ensures transparency and thus, fosters credibility and with it further participation. They have done it by developing structures that give different sectors of their targeted communities the means and opportunity to create awareness of their specific needs and perceptions, and that help covering roles and functions (supervisory, managerial, communicational, etc.) that, as mentioned before, would otherwise require the acquisition of funds to cover them (such as children’s parliaments/governments, village development committees, parents’ organizations, rotatory management commissions that ensure the equitable representation and responsibility of all of the members, etc.). Another strategy commonly used to this end is the establishment of schemes, such as the banking trust funds mentioned before, that assure that all stakeholders’ interests and responsibilities are negotiated, defined by contract, and supervised by an external actor — dealing concurrently with potential treats to self-sustainability that could emerge during the implementation process and keeping the communities stewardship of the programs by delimiting their rights and responsibilities.
  • decentralization and capacity building are key strategies that involve, among others, creating the conditions for people to construct their own path towards development and for necessary changes and conditions to emerge for the benefit of present and future generations
  • “Hub” o incubadora de ideas y proyectos. En el terreno actual, de una hectárea, se hospedan varios proyectos de producción de alimentos, educación, salud, deporte y cultura, todos los cuales deben ser negocios financieramente autosustentables. En lugar de una renta fija, cada proyecto paga a Ectagono un porcentaje de sus ingresos que varía según el acuerdo establecido al inicio de la colaboración.
  • General Assembly takes place every two months among the partners. Attendance is not mandatory and the participation of representatives of the partners is accepted in cases where they cannot attend. At the end of these assemblies, demonstrative barter markets are mounted for people to learn to use the Tumin. Partners can prepare their participation in the Assembly through subgroup meetings as required. The Assembly, which has (as one of its objectives) the constant evaluation of the project, is made up of Commissions that are in charge of organizing various issues related to the Tumin Project. Thus, there are Commissions on Education (to teach children new economic values such as solidarity), Communication (broadcasting the project), Distribution (which dispenses the Tumin), etc.

 

  • The Banking Trust Fund Scheme:
  • All financial resources obtained are deposited in the capital fund, the use of which is subject to control by a banking trust fund mechanism, which provides the project with credibility to encourage donations to contribute with those resources.

    Donors, foundations, governments, and international NGOs trying to support the so-called “developing countries” frequently face the same problem: corruption. Money frequently doesn’t arrive at its destination and stays in intermediary hands. It also happens that the money is distributed but the recipient organizations don’t have projects to offer, even if the money is there. With a Trust Fund, the money doesn’t have to go through the organization’s hands but rather goes through the Trust Fund’s hands which gives transparency to the money’s management, and certainty to both the organization and the donors.

    A Trust Fund is composed of 3 parts:

    1. The Trustee (the Bank) that is the one that generates the confidence (the trust), as it is the one that monitors how the money is being spent and ensures that it is used in the way and with the purpose agreed, by contract, between the beneficiaries and the donors.
    2. The Donors/Foundations that put money in the trust for a specific purpose.
    3. The Beneficiaries (the organization and/or local people).

     

    1, 2, and 3 elect an Executive Board (also called Technical Committee) that supervises/manages the Trust Fund on a daily basis and under the general supervision of the Trustee. It is formed by representatives from donors and beneficiaries.

    All rules applicable to the operation of the Trust are convened through a contract among 1, 2, and 3.

    All decisions (the designation of the Executing Board, the use of the money donated, etc.) are settled in that contract. All parts would like to advocate for their own interests but the ideal is to find a balance between them – respecting the beneficiary’s project objectives and the donor’s aims. The donors participate in the model because they accept it, which means that once they sign the contract they cannot make changes to it. That has to be clear in the original contract.

    The content of the contract is to establish that what is being settled is a Trust Fund, that is, a contract based on trust because there is someone (the bank) that looks after the contract’s compliance (e.g. “We agree to ensure that the obtained money will be dedicated to x and the bank will supervise that it is done that x way” ). When, during the implementation process, money has to be spent, the Executive Board decides how to use the money and the bank watches that the conditions are in line with what was agreed both on the contract and in the conditions to which the granting of the funds were subjected, that is, the original objective and destination of the funds.

  • The Children’s Parliament is itself a model for the exchange of ideas. This could be the basis for the exchange of other valuables (knowledge, things… it would be necessary to define what, from a participatory assessment of what is in the region in terms of credits of trust, alienation. Namely: to go from parliamentarianism to economy with something that replaces money – or complements it – being careful not to replicate the criticized existing schemes).
  • the SNSP has decentralized the decision-making process (it has created Village Education Committees and a Children’s Parliament!), giving schools the ability to keep relevant and effective for the communities — by taking advantage of their inputs
  • all stakeholders participate in educational decisions, which motivates their ownership of the projects. The model has, for example, a children’s and a parents’ government that run the school.
  • a model in which there is vast participation of learners, parents and other community members, teachers, and administrators in the school management, supervision and control, decision-making, planning and the implementation of education programs, and the development of curricula, and learning and teaching materials. As can be appreciated in Table 1, the SNSP is certainly a practical demonstration of such concepts, since it highlights the importance of co-management, relevant education, and strong context integration in order to ensure equal access to quality education.