This paper is a critical review of interventions that are used in different developing contexts to enhance educational access and attainment. The paper was informed by data and information gathered through a multi-method approach. The approach involved reviewing of research-based publications from leading organisations like IIEP (UNESCO), UNAIDS, UNICEF, and Save the Children (UK). Journal articles and research reports mostly based on experiences in African countries were also reviewed. Semi-structured, face-to-face and telephonic interviews as well as informal discussions were also held with key informants from various organisations that deal with HIV/AIDS issues in the Southern African region. Using these sources of information, a mixture of educational interventions implemented in different countries was identified and these are reported under four main categories in this paper; interventions that aim to increase access by subsidising school costs, interventions that make educational provision flexible, interventions that aim at increasing access through community mobilization, and interventions that try to increase access and attainment by improving the quality of educational provision. The review showed that these interventions were implemented differently and with varying levels of success in different contexts. Whilst there are many interventions that aim at reducing the cost of education, very few pay particular attention to addressing the quality of educational provision. With the exception of a few examples in South Africa and in Namibia, there is hardly any use of ICTs in enhancing access and improving the quality of education, an important aspect worth pursuing through the current project. Drawing from Coleman's theory of social capital as an analytical tool, the paper concludes that effective innovations are those that are premised on sound school-community linkages and integration. Such integration facilitates ownership and support of school innovations by the community.
SOFIE Opening Up Access Series No 2, SOFIE, London, ISBN 978-1-906648-01-5, 28 pp.