Endemic poverty, high rates of crime and abuse, lack of education, and wide-spread unemployment limit the opportunities slum dwellers have to improve their lot. The Peru Education Initiative began in 2007 with highly ambitious goals. Established in partnership with Strømme Foundation, the Peru...

Through Education, a Brighter Future for Slum Communities

Endemic poverty, high rates of crime and abuse, lack of education, and wide-spread unemployment limit the opportunities slum dwellers have to improve their lot.

The Peru Education Initiative began in 2007 with highly ambitious goals. Established in partnership with Strømme Foundation, the Peru Education Initiative aimed to provide residents of two of Lima’s slums with the tools they need to build a better future for themselves and to begin the process of transforming their communities.


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Strategic Initiative

SECTOR

Education

TOTAL INVESTMENT

US$ 465,000

LOCATION

Peru

LIVES CHANGED

14,266

SOCIAL IMPACT INDEX

72.2 (out of 100)

AVERAGE COST PER LIFE

US$ 32.59

Expand All

SI Breakdown:

Key Achievements

 

  • The conditions in which children live were improved – Parents participated in training classes to help reduce family conflict and to create a safer and healthier environment for their families. They also learned how to improve their family’s diet and to take an active role in supporting their children’s education.
  • Improved quality of education for slum children – 537 teachers were provided training and resources, and school officials developed educational plans to address the substandard education slum children often receive. 633 community leaders learned how to manage projects and access local government resources.
  • Young mothers provided a safe place to live – These mothers, many of whom have been the victims of abuse, were also taught life, vocational and parenting skills. Local partner Centro de Desarollo Técnico Productivo (CEDETEP) also worked with local organisations, schools and families to raise awareness of and prevent sexual abuse and early pregnancy.

 

The Problem

A US Public Broadcasting Service report provides a glimpse into living conditions in the slums of Lima:

...In the slums ... that surround Lima, lack of water is a brutal reality. Hardships [slum dwellers face] are almost unimaginable. Most live with no electricity. Their huts are made of sticks, straw matting and salvaged bits of corrugated steel. Sanitation is non-existent and disease is rampant. The life expectancy of a child born in these slums is ten years less than those living in the developed world.

Endemic poverty, high rates of crime and abuse, lack of education, and wide-spread unemployment limit the opportunities slum dwellers have to improve their lot.

Solution

The Peru Education Initiative began in 2007 with highly ambitious goals. Established in partnership with Strømme Foundation, the Peru Education Initiative aimed to provide residents of two of Lima’s slums with the tools they need to build a better future for themselves and to begin the process of transforming their communities.

With a total investment of US $465,000 (US $200,000 Legatum Foundation investment) in two local partners over three years, the Peru Education Initiative aimed to directly impact 15,474 slum residents through the following interventions:

  • Providing training, support, and materials to teachers, to improve quality of education for slum children
  • Engaging and equipping community leaders and authorities to be agents of change
  • Equipping parents to provide their children with safe, healthy living environments 
  • Providing young mothers with a safe home, as well as vocational and parenting skills
  • Training adolescents on preventative health

Much more than an education programme, the Initiative sought to empower community members to change their lives and take greater ownership of improving their neighbourhoods. The Initiative’s long-term goal is to see the transformation of the daily living conditions within the slums and to provide various forms of education to help slum dwellers realise the possibilities of a better future and a different way of life.

Critical Analysis

Initiative successes have been widespread and impressive. Over three years, the Initiative directly benefitted more than 14,000 residents. Programmes have begun a long-term process of transformation within the communities where they work. More importantly, parents, educators, community leaders and others have been equipped with skills, knowledge and resources that will remain with them long after programmes and trainings have been completed. Community-wide transformation has not yet been realised in these slums, but for thousands of residents, the future looks much brighter.

Moreover, Strømme Foundation Peru’s two community-based partners improved their capacity and media exposure and increased their donor base. Through ongoing training, staff is better equipped to run programmes at a sustained higher quality in the future. Local partners became more sustainable through this programme: increased media exposure brought organisations additional attention and new donors, providing leverage to Legatum Foundation’s investment.

Philanthropic investments in slum communities are high-risk in that there are multiple factors influencing slum conditions, many of them beyond slum dwellers’ control. ‘Moving the needle’ on conditions in slums requires a long-term investment horizon. Financial resources, required to address many of the forces influencing slum life, are hard to come by for economically challenged residents. However, this Initiative has demonstrated that a multi-pronged, holistic approach can realise measurable, lasting change and empower community members to be more effective agents of change themselves – a necessary requirement for transformation. Through this investment, the seeds of transformation have been planted, taken root, and are producing lasting change for individuals, families, and eventually for entire communities.

Lessons Learned

Successes:

The two local partners’ combined impact was 14,266 primary beneficiaries – ranging from school children to teachers to community leaders to adolescent mothers – which was 92 percent of the Initiative’s three-year goal. Considering context challenges, including a teachers strike, an H1N1 outbreak that closed schools, limited access to communities, and admittedly overly-ambitious original programme targets, this is a significant achievement.

Gaining community trust – The programmes of both local partners, Tierra de Niños (TDN) and CEDETEP, are in communities that historically have been resistant to ‘outsiders.’ Trust had to be established over time, and both programmes were ultimately fully embraced by the communities.

Focus on creating lasting, sustainable change in communities – Both Initiative programmes were committed to equipping community members to change their own lives and the future of their neighbourhoods. Acting as facilitators to train teachers, equip young mothers, and engage community members and leaders to work together to improve their community will pay dividends long after the investment in this Initiative has ended.

Challenges:

Long-term financial sustainability – Local partner organisations struggle to find enough funding to continue programmes without support from Strømme Foundation. Progress has been made and donors added, but to continue or expand all programmes that were part of this Initiative would require additional external financial support. The global financial crisis has made fundraising goals for local community-based organisations (CBOs) much harder to reach.

Attitudinal and community-level changes cannot be measured over three years – Programmes in this Initiative had very ambitious long-term goals, such as community transformation and long-term sustainability of programmes by local partner CBOs. Achieving these goals will take more than three years of funding and work. Limitations in time, financial resources, and local CBO capacity required the scaling back of some of the programme’s original benchmarks for the three-year programme.

Some original benchmarks were overly ambitious – Limitations in time, financial resources, and local community-based organisations’ capacity required the scaling back of some of the programmes’ original benchmarks for the three-year programme.

Peru Education Initiative: Featured Projects

SII ScoreProject NameGrantLives ChangedCost Per LifeSector
76.00 Tierra de Niños (TDN, Land of Children)$366,0003,460$105.78
68.40 Centro de Desarrollo Tecnico Productivo (CEDETEP)$89,00010,806$8.24
Note: The Social Impact Index Score reflects the relative social impact of a given development project. The lowest possible score is 20; the highest possible score is 100.

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