Developing, implementing and evaluating the SOFIE model: Supporting increased educational access for vulnerable pupils in rural Malawi

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SOFIE is a three year Research Project supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC). Its purpose is to strengthen open, distance and flexible learning (ODFL) systems and structures to increase access to education for young people living in high HIV prevalence areas in Malawi and Lesotho. It seeks to achieve this through developing a new, more flexible model of education that uses ODFL to complement and enrich conventional schooling. It also seeks to encourage application of the new knowledge generated through effective communication to development agencies, governments, development professionals, non-governmental organisations and other interested stakeholders.

In high HIV prevalence areas orphans and other vulnerable children are frequently unable to go to school regularly. In this context sustained access and learning is critical to long term improvements in risk and vulnerability and it requires new models of schooling to be developed and tested. This report presents findings from the development, piloting and evaluation of a flexible model of schooling that combines distance learning strategies and materials with community support. The findings show a significant reduction in dropout amongst Standard 6 pupils in intervention schools and discusses the perceived benefits and challenges of implementing the SOFIE model.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUniversity of London
PublisherInstitute of Education
Commissioning bodySOFIE
Number of pages79
ISBN (Print)978-1-906648-16-9
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Education
  • Malawi
  • Evaluation
  • Flexible learning

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