Community participation is a term frequently used and often cited in international educational development. In this article, Jennifer Swift-Morgan investigates the definition and impact of community participation in schooling in rural Ethiopia. Although national governments, development agencies, and nongovernmental organizations across the developing world increasingly encourage community participation, our understanding of this term remains vague due to a lack of detailed analysis. Swift-Morgan’s qualitative study examines the form and scope of community participation. She finds that in rural Ethiopia, this range is complex, but a large portion of what is characterized as community participation is monetary contributions rather than involvement in decisionmaking or teaching and learning. Swift-Morgan also shows that there are particular challenges for the participation of women and the poor, and that financial incentives and technical assistance that encourage broad-based decisionmaking create incentives for broader community participation. Swift-Morgan concludes the article with policy implications, particularly with respect to how programs that attempt to encourage community participation can be made more effective.
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