FINCA and the Private Education Development Network (PEDN) have been carrying out a small savings program with schools across Uganda to subsidize the costs of primary education. While Uganda guarantees universal primary education, it does so with prohibitive user fees that often lead to pupils dropping out and does little to off-set other costs. In response, Smoothing the Costs of Education has created a savings bank in several schools that parents contribute money towards. At the end of each year pupils are given the ability to direct how their savings are spent. The expenses are usually for schools supplies, uniforms, and exam fees.
This project helps families with school aged children better plan for the costs of putting their child through school. By investing small amounts of money over time, families are then presented with a pool of money that can cover most anticipated school costs. With their savings tethered to the school, it prevents families from prioritizing others needs above education, ensuring they invest in their children’s education.
The strength of this project may also be its weakness. By forcing parents to contribute money to their children’s school program they may be creating resentment on the parents’ part. Should the family incur an emergency that requires financial assistance, who is to say they shouldn’t have access to their savings? The project seems to work best with families who live in relative financial stability and may exclude those who cannot afford such a luxury.
FINCA and PEDN have yet to release the full findings of their program but Innovations for Poverty Action are assessing it and will be releasing information on its impact soon.
FINCA and Private Education Development Network
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