Working with and supporting communities to participate in the development of their local schools was one of the four focal areas of ESSPIN. This stream of work was done through the establishment and functionality of School-Based Management Committees (SBMCs). Generally, SBMCs work to increase communities’ involvement with education, hold schools accountable, and help improve the quality and effectiveness of schools. They provide a way of helping the education authorities to listen to what adults and children want from schools, and a way of increasing the contributions of everyone in the local area to making education work well for all children.
ESSPIN’s work with communities focused on helping the SBMC members to understand their roles and to do them effectively. This was against the background that earlier attempts by the Nigerian government to institute school-based management did not achieve the desired results because communities did not understand their roles and lacked the capacity to support their schools. Consequently, efforts were made to build the capacity of community members in key areas including improving access and equity, child protection, resource mobilisation and ensuring inclusion. The capacity of SBMCs was largely built through civil society organisations (CSOs).
For example, SBMCs in six states of Nigeria were trained and supported through ESSPIN to revitalise their local schools by raising money and encourage donation of resources from communities and networks. An SBMC resource mobilisation validation study commissioned by ESSPIN in 2016 found that communities contributed the equivalent of £4.3m to support improvement in their schools. Over 66,000 community members were trained through partner CSOs to support various aspects of school improvement.