Small schools or one teacher-assisted schools represent a large portion of the education landscape in Southeast Asia. However, this significant feature of the region’s education system is beset with overwhelming challenges. Often characterized by multi-grade instructions, small schools exist out of necessity to provide access to education in remote, isolated, rural communities, particularly in Southeast Asia’s developing countries. Multi-grade teaching is one of the projects identified for ASEAN regional collaboration in the “Reaching the Unreached: Meeting of SEAMEO Member Countries to ACHIEVE the EFA Goals Together by 2012”.
In line with this, SEAMEO INNOTECH implemented Project SMaLL (Small Schools Management for Lifelong Learning) in Laos, Malaysia, and the Philippines as a fast track initiative to reach the unreached school age children by 2015.
Project SMaLL was an action research for the continuous improvement of the past and ongoing initiatives of SEAMEO member countries in managing small/multigrade schools. It aimed to develop new models that featured the long-term effectiveness/advantages of small schools / multi-grade learning system (at par with the conventional formal education system) and its impact on the lives of children from disadvantaged communities of Southeast Asia. The project also hoped to (1) build the capacities of the Village Education Development Council in Lao PDR, (2) integrate best practices in managing small Orang Asli Schools in Malaysia, and (3) strengthen the multigrade learning system through e-IMPACT in Cebu, Philippines
Several capacity building interventions were provided to seven (7) pilot schools to enable the small schools to effectively manage their meager resources through strong school, family, and community relationships and thereby improve the overall school performance.
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