CREATE Research Programme Overview

CREATE is a programme of research funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), with its main partner institutions in the UK, Bangladesh, Ghana, India, and South Africa, and smaller scale work in Kenya, Malawi, Sri Lanka, and China. CREATE has developed a programme of research to analyse policy and practice designed to reduce educational exclusion and expand access to basic education. The research is increasing knowledge and understanding of the reasons why so many children fail to access and complete basic education successfully.

Access to education is at the heart of development and is central to the Millennium Development Goals. A lack of education is both a part of the definition of poverty and a means for its diminution. The achievement of universal basic education is essential to reduce poverty, increase equity and transform the developmental prospects of individuals and nation states. Sustained access to education which transfers knowledge, skills and attitudes to the next generation is critical to long term improvements in productivity, the reduction of inter-generational cycles of poverty, demographic transition, preventive health care, the empowerment of women, reductions in inequality, and many other developmentally desirable goals.

The programme of research uses the concept of zones of exclusion to frame analysis of access issues. There are six main zones covering those who do not attend school at all, drop outs and push outs at primary and secondary level, and those in school attending irregularly and achieving little.

CREATE’s architecture of key concepts includes the zones of exclusion and the expanded vision of access. It also highlights a wide range of issues that include age-of-entry and age-in-grade progression; typologies of drop out; small schools and multi-grade pedagogies; transitions to post primary; private providers: silent exclusion of those enrolled but learning little; analysis of supply and demand side constraints, inequalities associated with improved access and exclusions related to poverty and costs; needs for better data on participation and for child tracking, and for indicators that capture poor distributions of service delivery; child friendly and child seeking schools; exclusions related to gender, disability and other forms of marginalisation.

Access to education has to include judgements of educational quality and process (what children have access to); and of educational outcomes (what competencies and capabilities are acquired and how they are valued). CREATE’s expanded vision of access to education emphasises learning that has utility, and which is inclusive, equitable and sustainable. The vision includes local access to safe schools with an appropriate environment for learning; admission and progression at an appropriate age; regular attendance; access to secondary education; learning outcomes that meet national norms; and socially equitable access to affordable educational services of quality.