Social Justice Part 1: Problems and Solutions in Thailand

file0001748424783.jpgSummary

Issue: Low Access to Quality Instruction in Northeast Thailand

Over the past 25 years Thailand has made major increases in all areas related to economic development (CIA World Factbook, 2011). However, these giant strides have been focused mostly on central Thailand and the metropolis of Bangkok, while in most instances rural areas have not kept pace, especially those in the Northeast region.

Consequently, this economic disparity has led to inequities in access to education and discrepancies in its quality between Bangkok and regions in its vicinity and the northeastern provinces, which trail them by a wide margin:

Access to education, and its equality, is still variable across the country. Bangkok outperforms the rest of the country, followed by Bangkok Vicinity, the Centre, the East and the South. Northeastern provinces lag behind. (Thailand Human Development Report, 2007, p. 7)

This paper examines economic and educational attainment in Thailand and considers the existing literature on educational quality in regions in Asia. It then turns its focus to alleviating the problem of unequal access to quality instruction through the introduction and implementation of a sustainable, privately run support program designed to strengthen primary school teacher qualifications in the Northeast of Thailand.

It is divided into 3 sections: Part A examines economic and educational achievement in Thailand, Part B is devoted to examining research concerning access to quality education in underdeveloped countries in South Asia and South East Asia with a focus on Thailand. It defines quality education and instruction, reviews the literature on access to quality education in the regions, and reviews literature on access to quality education and instruction in Northeast Thailand. Part C proposes a plan to help alleviate educational inequity in northeast Thailand through the development of a teacher-mentoring program run through private organizations.

Framework

This paper uses Bardach’s (2000) eightfold path as a framework. The “path” follows these steps:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Assemble some evidence
  3. Construct the alternatives
  4. Select the criteria
  5. Project the outcomes
  6. Confront the tradeoffs
  7. Decide
  8. Tell your story

Steps 1-6 are addressed in parts A & B. Although I’ve incorporated facets of these previous steps in section C, for the most part it is devoted to the decision to introduce the proposed program and how the program would operate.

A) Disparities in Economic Achievement and Educational Access in Thailand

Thailand’s Economy

Thailand’s population stands at 69,720,153, of which 94.6% are considered Buddhists, predominantly from the Theravada school. It is a constitutional monarchy led by king Bhumibol Adulyadei (CIA World Factbook, 2011). The prime minister is Yingluck Shinawatra Puea.

Thailand has made rapid gains economically. In 1990 per capita income was at $4,235 and by 2010 it had reached $8,001, nearly doubling. In 2010, the economy grew at 7.8%, making it the 21st fastest growing economy in the world. It has a low unemployment rate at 1.1%, the 7th lowest number in the world (CIA Factbook, 2011).

Over the last 25 years Thailand has also made significant gains in its efforts to reduce poverty. Since 1988 the poverty rate has fallen from a high of 32.6% to less than 10% in 2002 (Jitsuchon & Richter, 2007, p.1), but although great gains have been made, harsh regional disparities still exist:

Thailand’s poverty has stark regional features: poverty is highest in outlying regions and lowest in Bangkok and surrounding areas. Yet, poverty reduction has extended all across the country. (Jitsuchon & Richter, 2007, p.241)

As Bangkok continues to drive the nation’s economy, the Northeast continues to flounder, with its deep problems juxtaposed against Bangkok’s success:

Because poverty is falling more rapidly in other regions, it has become more concentrated in the Northeast. One in two persons who were poor were living in the Northeast in 1988; the share of the poor in the total population was one in three at that time. The Northeast accounted for roughly one-third of the total population in 2002, but its share of the poor had increased to three in five. This translates into 3.8 million people living in the Northeast who are poor, compared to only 2.3 million in the rest of the country. (Jitsuchon & Richter, 2007, p.242)

Poverty continues to persist in the Northeast as compared to other regions of the country. The surge in economic growth that has produced major benefits in other regions has been much more limited in this region.

Educational Inequities in Thailand

Economic development in the central part of Thailand has also led to substantial educational gains. Thailand consists of four geographic regions: the North, the Northeast, the Center, which includes Bangkok, and the South (Leitch & LePoer, 1987). These regions have all benefited from the country’s unprecedented economic growth over the last 25 years. This growth has led to improved health and education, but has been unevenly applied as citizens in the central part of the country, especially those if the urban enclave of Bangkok, have faired better than those in parts of the north and south.

But this progress has not benefited everyone equally. Thailand’s cities have grown faster than its countryside. Poverty is still widespread in the rural Northeast, North and far South of the country….Despite a high level of school enrollment, the quality of education and inadequate training for workers hinders Thailand’s ability to reap the benefits of globalization and threatens its future human development. (Thailand Human Development Report, 2007, p. 2)

One region that has been particularly challenged is the Northeast, which by all measures has lagged behind the others, and with educational attainment closely linked to economic growth, this predominantly agricultural region has been unable to sustain and significantly improve its educational systems.

Additionally, the high cost of education for the rural poor can negatively impact student retention rates:

Although the Constitution mandates free schooling for at least twelve years, the costs involved other than school fees can still be prohibitive for poor people. (NESDB, 2002, p. 21)

Unfortunately, government funding in the Northeast has not kept pace with funding to the urban center and local funding has proven to be grossly inadequate. Government spending favors the urban center over the rural northeast, as “The top fifth of the population by income receives over half of all public spending on higher education” (Thailand Human Development Report, 2007, p. 7).

In spite of the apparent inequity, achieving parity may be problematic, as the established power structure has been firmly focused on urbanization and has its base in Bangkok. Since the ouster of Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006, control of the government has been in the hands of a pro-monarchist, conservative leadership, sometimes know as the “yellow shirts.”

However, after general elections this year the opposition party (“red shirts”) has taken power under the leadership of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra Puea.

Yingluck was feted like a rock-star by the red shirts who designated entire communities in Thailand’s rugged, vote-rich northeast plateau as “red shirt villages” to help mobilize supporters, each festooned with red flags and Thaksin posters. (Reuters, 2011)

This changeover may lead to increased attention to the needs of the rural poor; nonetheless, a deep division exists between the type of education received by students in Bangkok and the Center of the country and poorer regions like the Northeast. In order to ensure equity and sustain economic growth, this issue should be addressed.

B) Examining Quality Education

Overview
A quality education requires numerous components, some as fundamental as access to basic supplies and comfortable and safe learning environments. Developing relevant and rigorous curriculum and hiring a sufficient number of teachers are also key factors, however; the most important aspect is the ability of teachers to provide high quality instruction.

In the South and South East Asia regions, inadequate levels of primary completion interfere with entrance into secondary schools where problems with low enrollment and attainment persist. Low access to quality education influences these results.

In Thailand, positive economic gains have elevated educational opportunities in Bangkok and the Center, while regions like the Northeast have lagged behind. Increasing access to quality learning in the Northeast by improving teacher qualifications might help to alleviate the problem of educational inequity.

What is Quality Education?

A clear-cut explanation of the factors contributing to a quality education can be difficult to precisely explicate, as factors that contribute to quality are dependent on localized elements that cannot be universally applied since they are relative to politics, culture, and custom. Impoverished countries, which have a history of poor access, will have different expectations than those that are fully developed, however; as stated in the EFA Global Monitoring Report (2011, p. 36), “It is obvious that schools without teachers, textbooks or learning materials will not be able to do an effective job.”

Consequently, countries that enable a consistent supply of “inputs,” which are the essentials of education: trained teachers, appropriate textbooks, and safe learning environments, are most likely to have solid foundations for success and not get caught in continual cycles of failure.

An ongoing concern for quality in terms of inputs, processes, and outcomes is critical to ensuring that the reconstruction of the system does not simply reproduce the limitations of previous systems or sacrifice learning opportunities for externally imposed access targets. (World Bank, 2005, p. 48)

However, other key issues are critical to consider when exploring the meaning of quality education, some of the most significant are the context in which education is delivered (culture and environment play key roles), the priorities (values and beliefs) of the stakeholders, and the training, motivation, and accountability of teachers. A comprehensive approach to defining the key components was raised by Williams (2000, p. 106): “School quality can be understood in several ways. One formulation involves four interacting sets of factors - the characteristics of the child, supporting inputs, enabling conditions, and the teaching learning process.” Williams, (2000, p.106) goes on to reflect on the importance of context: “Educational quality is understood in different ways, reflecting the values and priorities of stakeholders. As a result, it is essential to clarify the important meaning(s) of quality to the relevant stakeholders in a particular context.”

Therefore, key elements that designers must consider when developing learning programs is their relevance to the context of students’ lives and that they are “…the product of a system, rather than the product of a single policy intervention, where context is a core element of the system” (Reimers, Cooc, & Hashmi, p. 410)

Quality Instruction

No component is more important to the equation of quality education than the excellence of those who teach. The pedagogical aspect of educational quality should not be underestimated. Quality instruction includes a balance between constructivist and direct transmission approaches with classes that are student-centered utilizing rigorous, relevant content (OECD, p. 7). These skills are not easily mastered and necessitate ongoing, personalized training.

In the developing world a practical focus on teaching and learning requires countries to recruit more teachers, adequately train then, motivate them, and provide strong management to support them (Adams & Petrella, 2010, p. 294), this combined with systems of accountability, evaluation, and incentive, “…many if not most developing countries currently lack performance measurement that would allow them to know which policies were working and which were not or where performance was most in need of change” (Hanushek & Wobman, 2007, p. 78), could go a long way toward increasing access to quality instruction in underserved sections of developing countries like Thailand. Furthermore, in countries where recruiting more teachers might be unfeasible due to financial constraints, there needs to be a focus on, “better and more targeted professional development as one avenue towards improvement” (OECD, 2009, p. 25).

Access to Quality Education in Developing Countries in South and South East Asia

Low or inadequate access to quality education is a widespread problem that affects countries throughout the regions. These countries also face problems like economic inequality, gender and ethnic discrimination, political turmoil, natural and man made disasters, and violent conflict, factors that may intertwine to form barriers against the implementation of sound educational policies.

Over the last two decades while the basic provisions of educational inputs and access to primary education have improved throughout the regions, poverty and low rates of secondary and tertiary enrollment still persist. In addition, the quality of instruction, which is influenced by investment in curriculum development and teacher training, has lagged behind.

Access to Quality Primary Education in the Regions

These regions have seen dramatic improvements in primary education access, mostly due to government aid in the payment of student tuition costs, however; the regions still face many problems, with most gains offset by a failure to fully meet objectives:

Primary school enrollment ratios are high and rising in most economies and more than half are expected to meet the target (MDG) by 2015. Fewer, however, will reach the target for ensuring that the pupils who start grade one reach the last grade of primary education. (ADB, 2010, p. 24)

In fact, Indonesia and the Philippines saw a drop in students who completed primary education in 2007, possibly an affect of the global financial crisis (ADB, 2010, p. 31). As a result, although the regions have improved economically, poverty still inhibits many countries from achieving their educational objectives. For instance, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal Bangladesh, Bhutan, and India all have populations with over 45% surviving on less than 2 dollars per day. India led the group with a level of 75.6% in 2005 (ADB, 2010, p. 143). Thus, struggles with primary completion still continue while many countries are unable to provide the funding needed to ensure universal enrollment past the primary years. In addition, many students are without access to education on any level: “Although the region is likely to achieve near universal primary school enrollment by 2015 and attain gender parity, over 25 million children in the region are still without access to education” (ADB, 2002).

High primary enrollment is an encouraging achievement, but the numbers can be misleading. Although students are attending primary school in record numbers, poor educational quality impacts completion rates and feeds into low secondary enrollment.

High enrollment rates mask the poor quality of primary education in DMCs (Developing Member Countries), which is hampered by inadequate financing and resources, poor learning outcomes, high rates of grade repetition, school dropout, and teacher absenteeism. (ADB, 2002)

Poor educational outcomes reduce the demand for secondary enrollment as families often decide that their limited funds can be better spent elsewhere. The quality deficit helps drive this issue. Access to quality instruction is a major factor in getting students to school and keeping them there. The World Bank (1997, p. 8) in its report on elementary education in Pakistan argued that emphasis on quality would be instrumental to increasing access:
The best way to improve access is to improve quality, which would make coming to school or staying in school a more attractive option from the perspective of parents as well as children. Moreover, efforts to improve quality will tend to increase the efficiency of the public expenditure and will encourage parents to contribute to children education.

Access to Quality Secondary Education in the Regions

Countries in these Asia regions report consistently low numbers of students who are able to complete secondary education: “In more than half of Asian DMCs only 7 out of 10 children entering the first grade complete the primary cycle, and only 4 complete the secondary cycle” (ADB, 2008, p.2).

Enrollment begins to drop after primary school. In South East Asia as of 2010, 93.3% of primary students were enrolled, but only 63.1% in secondary and 24.1% in tertiary education (ADB, 2010).

Factors that impact access to education in the regions can be broken into two categories. The first is supply-related. This refers to the “cost and quality of school provision” (Caillods, p. 24), which are mostly borne by local and national governments and NGOs. The other category is demand-related and refers to the willingness of families to send their children to school and the motivational level of students to consistently attend.

Supply factors include the cost of education, the perception of quality, and the impact of examinations on remaining in school. On the demand side, families make the decision to send their children to school after comparing the benefits to the costs, factoring in the direct cost of school versus the indirect loss of their child’s potential work income. Socio-cultural factors, like marriage opportunities, also play a role.

Ultimately, the lack of quality acts as a disincentive for parents to continue the education of their children. This problem is spread across the entire developing world where, “Too few young people, however, are making the transition from primary to post-primary learning and those that do often encounter poor quality” (Center for Universal Education, 2011, p. 30).

These regions in Asia struggle with completion rates in primary that in turn affect entrance rates into secondary, while low quality influences reductions in secondary enrollment. Providing quality instruction could lead to improved enrollment and help to ensure that more students transfer between primary and secondary. This, in turn, increases the chance that these children will participate in higher education.

Access to Quality Instruction in Northeast Thailand

Thailand is fortunate since its economic growth has spread wealth throughout the Kingdom, although it still deals with vast social and economic differences by region. This growth, although incremental in some sectors, along with the efforts of government intervention, gives Thailand an upper hand when compared with other developing nations in the regions. As a result in 2010, 90.1% of primary students were enrolled, 72.1.1% in secondary, and 45% in tertiary education (ABD, 2010). This outpaces the South East Asia region by a wide margin in secondary and tertiary education, but when comparing the Northeast to Bangkok and the center, statistics like “mean years of schooling” show that while Bangkok is at 10.9 years, Yasothon province in the Northeast has the lowest ranking in the nation at 6.7 years (UNDR, 2007, p. 89).

As a result, problems can be seen at the primary level, where Thailand ranks lower than the average in enrollment (90.1%) as compared to other Southeast Asian countries: “The Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2003/4 estimated that almost 1 million children in Thailand, mainly from the marginalized groups….do not attend primary school regularly” (CFS, 2009, p. 5). Tribal groups that are clustered in the Northeast have been marginalized for years. Schools there suffer from general disparities in the quality of life, which support inequities in education.

All of Thailand’s 76 provinces have not shared equally in recent quality of life improvements and economic growth, and several marginalized groups continue to suffer deprivation similar to that found in much less developed countries….tribal populations of the north are among these groups. (CFS, 2009, p. 5)

However, efforts have been made to improve educational quality in the Northeast. For instance, projects that focus on localizing curriculum and learning have been instituted to try to help alleviate the problems of low parental involvement and lack of student motivation:

The “Lab Schools” project in Thailand is also an example of assistance to schools in rural areas. The project implements the child-friendly schools system by involving the schools, local communities, local governments and private companies in developing and implementing school programs. (Plantilla, 2006)

The Child Friendly Schools program has met with some success. It has been able to bring student centered learning activities to teachers in rural areas, but more personalized training should be provided. A CFS (2009, p. 19) study that evaluated the program stated that,

Several teachers also mentioned that while these workshops covered the basics of child-centered, active teaching techniques, they needed more personalized and innovative training on classroom management and positive disciplinary techniques to develop practices that truly meet the needs of their students.

Unfortunately, in spite of efforts like the Child Friendly Schools program to develop educators who deliver engaging learning, overall educational quality is still a major concern:

We note that the National Education Act of 1999 offered a new vision of education for Thai society. It promised an educational system that would engage Thai children more actively in their learning, and a broader range of Thai adults in the enhancement of their schools’ capacity to deliver quality education. Data presented in this report suggest that this promise is still in the process of being met. (Hallinger & Lee, 2007)

In addition, the poorest families struggle to keep their children in school after the 8th grade, creating a situation in which enrollment in upper secondary education becomes increasingly difficult. As of 2008, “…enrollment rates by grade continued to show a continuous decline after grade 9 when entering upper secondary education and throughout upper secondary” (Caillods, 2010, p. 20). This issue also has a negative impact on tertiary enrollment as well.

As asserted by the NESDB report (2002, p. 3), “The greatest challenge lies in improving quality.” Higher access to quality instruction could positively impact retention, transfer, and completion rates, which ultimately could lead to improved living conditions in regions like the northeast of Thailand.

Conclusion

A good education is made up of many components with arguably the most important being the quality of instruction. Completion rates and the ability of students to transfer from primary to secondary can be strongly influenced by this factor. Just sending students to school is not enough. Students who are taught well tend to stay in school and those students who complete primary school are more likely to complete secondary school.

A significant area of concern is poor teacher qualifications leading to inadequate instructional levels. Consequently, creating training programs for teachers that focus on best practices should raise qualifications of teachers.

Instituting this program recommendation in Northeast Thailand could lead to positive effects, especially economically: “The simple answers in the discussion of economic implications of education are that educational quality, measured by cognitive skills, has a strong impact on individual earnings” (Hanushek & Woessman, 2007, p. 2).

Relying on governments to enact meaningful change is sometimes not only a slow process, but also a fruitless one. Instead, when possible it may be more practical to focus on assistance from privately funded measures and/or private organizations. Fortunately, The Kingdom of Thailand has a long history of supporting NGOs and religious organizations. In the late 1960s and early 1970s both domestic and foreign NGOs began to flourish in the Kingdom, some supporting the rural poor (Yoshihide, 2008, p. 9), while Catholic and protestant missionaries have been operating in the Kingdom since 1682, successfully fulfilling similar aspirations (Van Khoi, 1975, p. 3).

Working with well respected, but centrally controlled private organizations, with extensive networks in the country may be the most pragmatic and beneficial method of approaching the challenge of improving educational quality for students in the Thai northeast. Furthermore, “shrinking the change” (Heath & Heath, p. 135) and focusing on one specific educational insufficiency, like the need for improved teacher training, may increase and expedite the chances that the program’s application will be focused and, ultimately, successful.

C) Proposal

Teacher Mentoring Program in Northeast Thailand: A Private Network of Learning

In an effort to help resolve the issue of low teacher qualifications in the northeast region, I propose a program specifically designed to help alleviate this problem. This program is based on the reality that public institutions often are cumbersome and slow to effect change policies and that if a program is to be a success, urgency is required. A highly efficient organization would help to make a program aimed at teacher training more easily developed and implemented.

A need exists for more personalized teacher training. Therefore, this section describes a mentoring program designed to bring experienced, well-qualified teachers into contact with those in need of training in primary school with the goal of raising primary school completion rates to those achieved in Bangkok (UNDR, 2007, p. 89). This would be accomplished through the development of a private network of learning that emphasizes ongoing teacher/mentor collaborations both onsite and remote.

Some effort has been put into exploring the role of private education in countries like Thailand. Tooley (2009, pp. 26-27) refers to the untapped potential of private schools in developing countries, “If we wish to reach the ‘education for all’ target of universal quality primary education by 2015, surely we should be looking to the private sector to play a significant role, given the clear importance of its role already.” Similarly, this program would take advantage of existing organizations that are unencumbered by government bureaucracy and capable of creating quick impact and long lasting change.

The organizational framework of the program relies on two existing, well-established entities: the International Schools Association of Thailand (ISAT) http://www.isat.or.th/, and Catholic Commission for Social Works (Caritas Thailand) http://www.caritasthailand.net/index%20eng.html,” which operates under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand and oversees Catholic development operations throughout the Kingdom including the Udon and Ubon dioceses situated in northeastern Thailand.

The first organization (ISAT) is a collective of international schools in Thailand that has access to every school in the Bangkok area. International schools operate outside the normal regulations to which Thai public schools must adhere. They also have the ability to run special programs that do not always fall under the purview of the government.

Catholic foundations have flourished in Thailand since the 17th century. Caritas Thailand oversees projects relating to social development including education and works directly with regional dioceses on projects.

Creating an agreement to work together on this program could be mutually beneficial to both organizations. The Catholic Church requires help in training teachers at its rural schools, while ISAT has access to hundreds of well-qualified teachers from countries all over the world many of whom desire to give something of value back to their host country.

Finally, developing a network of instructional interchange between highly qualified instructors and those needing assistance could be easily established. It is a practical, financially feasible concept.

The Program

Sections A & B in this paper make the case for an intervention in the region. Using Bardach (2000) as a guide, I’ve devised a process to develop a program to help address this issue that utilizes 6 steps: 1) identify the targets, 2) create a plan, 3) build a team, 4) implement the program, 5) assess and modify the program, and 6) communicate the message. Steps 1 and 2 may be carried out concurrently as an initial proposal could be offered to both agencies. As the learning plan is developed target schools could be identified.

1) Creating the Learning Plan

First, a management team would be formed to create a plan for implementation. The team would be composed of members from both organizations who are administrators and teachers. It’s important that participants become vested in the program. As Gillies (2010, p. 5) noted, “Ownership is a central tenet of development: countries and the various stakeholders within them must own reforms for the effects of intervention to be positive and sustainable.”

The team would formulate a strategic plan. This should include a framework for application that states the intended goals of the program. Generally speaking, in order to raise educational quality and ensure that primary school completion rates grow to Bangkok levels, training teachers to utilize best practices in their classrooms would be the overarching goal with key objectives like teaching literacy, numeracy, and 21st Century learning skills integrated into the plan. However, at the start of the program a needs-assessment should be done. This could be achieved by surveying teachers at the sister schools. The survey should include qualitative information in narrative form so teachers could personalize their training needs. These data would then be used to assist program designers on the team in devising and modifying the strategic plan.

2) Identifying the Targets

The next step is to locate the schools in need by identifying a handful of them in the northeast region that will be established as ISAT “sister schools.” This would be accomplished by working with leaders at Caritas Thailand and assessing needs at schools within the targeted dioceses. Once the schools are identified and contacts gathered, ISAT would be offered a proposal to adopt the schools. If ratified, it would mean that an association with the Archdiocese would be created that would permit ISAT to send teachers to these sister schools to develop and implement training programs.

3) Building the Team

The team must then communicate the message that suitable volunteers are needed to participate in an initial two-day training session (Friday and Saturday) at the schools, and that ongoing collaboration both the schools and off-site would be required. The Internationals Schools Association of Thailand could transmit this message to all members via email after introducing the program at its quarterly meeting for Heads of Schools. Once volunteers are selected, the ISAT member schools would excuse their teachers for one day for the staging trip. All teachers would be volunteers. The cost of transportation and room and board would be borne by each school for its own teachers. The member schools would also pay any further costs relating to trips to the sister schools.

4) Implementing the Training

The two days would be organized by the management team together with input from teachers in ISAT and the sister schools. These two days would be used to stage the program. Although good pre-planning goes a long way toward ensuring a successful operation, hands-on interactions help to shape programs like this. Therefore, this initial meeting will assist in making long-term decisions.

Workshops would be held on the first day. On the second day mentors would be assigned and individual meetings would occur. After the weekend finishes ongoing contact between the teachers and the mentors would begin. The mentors, in concert with trainees, would develop PLPs (Personal Learning Plans) for each participant with mentors responsible for overseeing the implementation of the plans.

5) Assessing and Modifying Results

A system of data analysis would be developed, implemented, and used to gauge the effectiveness of the program. As the years progress data on primary student completion rates will emerge. The program would then be modified based on the examination of these data utilizing evaluation systems informed by similar circumstances and within the context of the program. As Garaway (2003, p. 716) states, “The exploration for and definition of underlying aims must be a joint process conducted in-country by those directly involved in evaluation for that context.”

6) Communicating the Message

This is a critical step in promoting the longevity of the program. Strong communication delivery ensures that all stakeholders are continually involved in the process of examination and are able to share in the successes of the venture. This can be partly accomplished through a monthly newsletter, emails, and sms alerts. Progress updates would be shared with each sister school’s learning community and with ISAT, the member schools, the dioceses, and Caritas Thailand. A yearly conference that gathers all stakeholders in one place to review and organize for the upcoming year would also be useful.

Implications

Aside from the short-term benefits from such a program, the establishment of these networks could be beneficial as a tool for advancing learning throughout other provinces in the region. Since it would be a mostly voluntary operation with basic costs paid by member schools, it is a practical method for enacting positive change. No need exists for government sanction of the program or for public investment. A sizable, well-trained body of potential volunteers is in place and once the network is developed, utilizing alternative private organizations serving poor populations could be explored, including those run by other religious institutions, and those for-profit schools targeting low-income markets.

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