In addition to its regular activities around the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) standard, the initiative supports local cotton companies in implementing community projects in the subject areas of health, education, gender equality, and the environment. To gain deeper insights into the actual impact of these community projects, the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) commissioned a case study to measure the effects of the projects, with a focus on education infrastructure and quality for local cotton farming communities.
Key findings of the study show that the most significant change can be seen in a reduction of dropout rates: Whereas an average of 56 students dropped out of school over the previous year at control sites, only 11 students did so at CmiA project schools. In addition, school attendance rates are much higher for CmiA project sites (83 percent) than for control sites (68 percent). These findings are also reflected in the beneficiaries’ perception of the projects. The overwhelming majority of community members indicated they were “very satisfied” (59.53 percent) or “satisfied” (36.12 percent) with CmiA projects. “Parents feel good as their students study in a more comfortable area,” states one of the interviewed farmers. Many respondents believe that there has been a positive change in their communities in the past five years. They listed improved education and learning environments as a primary outcome of the CmiA community projects.
To further improve the impact of CmiA’s educational projects, which are a long-term investment, the study also identified remaining challenges. Despite all efforts by CmiA and its partners, there is still a fundamental lack of schools in the area, and schools are often too far for pupils. Pupil-to-teacher ratios also remain high. Respondents brought up a lack of science labs, classrooms, or teachers’ housing as challenges concerning education infrastructure in their region. “There’ll be more development if these projects continue to be implemented,” one respondent concluded.
“These results underline that CmiA is on the right track in supporting cotton farming communities via the CmiA Community Cooperation Programme. The study will serve as a basis for us to learn and provide further support tailored to the communities in the CmiA cotton growing areas,” concludes Nina Schöttle, project manager for monitoring, evaluation, and learning at the Aid by Trade Foundation.
The study was conducted in 2021 by Silverleaf Advisory Services, the advisory branch of the Silverleaf Academy, an independent and locally based organisation with an established network of low-cost primary schools in Tanzania. The Silverleaf education model prioritises student-centred approaches and parental engagement in order to improve the educational infrastructure in Tanzania, including through the use of curriculum tablet technology and intensive teacher training. The study was rolled out at ten CmiA project sites and an additional five control sites in Bariadi District, Tanzania. It contained a quantitative survey of more than 450 community members as well as qualitative interviews and focus group discussions, including with village leaders and educators. Depending on the needs of the communities, educational projects by CmiA may involve building classrooms, latrines, boreholes, student dormitories, or school canteens. The study evaluated the effects of these projects based on pupils’ performance, school infrastructure, and the learning environment.