Access to education is at the heart of development and has been especially hard hit by the AIDS epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite efforts to strengthen education systems there is increasing evidence that not enough has yet been done and increasing numbers of orphans and other vulnerable children are unable to attend school regularly. Schools are strongly challenged to meet the needs of children who walk in the door and are unlikely to reach out to those beyond the school gate. In these countries there is an urgent need for governments to take effective action to protect the rights of vulnerable children to schooling.
The SOFIE Project is a three year research study funded by the ESRC-DFID Scheme, which seeks to play a proactive role in facilitating such government action through developing and trialing alternative pathways to learning that complement and enrich conventional schooling and meet learners' needs more effectively.
This study is led by researchers at the Institute of Education, University of
London working in partnership with researchers at the Institute of Education, National University of Lesotho, the Centre for Educational Research and Training (CERT), University of Malawi and the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE).
It is envisaged that this study will increase understanding of how more open and flexible learning can address barriers to educational access and achievement and increase the knowledge skills and empowerment of HIV-affected young people. It will also contribute to increased research capacity in the participating countries.