Schools in rural areas are in dire poverty, and are often perceived as disadvantaged in education provision. While it may be true that most rural schools are in poor condition, few studies acknowledge that these schools have dealt innovatively with their plight. Drawing from different projects that were conducted in rural areas, it is evident that schools in rural areas cope with the challenges of education provision. There is development potential in rural communities, and it is crucial to understand the existing [indigenous] potential in these areas, before one can contribute to the development process. Thus the focus here is on key strategies adopted by some rural schools to continue learning and teaching despite limited resources.
Recent studies conducted in rural areas indicated that most school communities have dealt with the challenges of education provision in the following ways: Partnership with private and NGO sector has manifested as a poverty alleviation strategy in ways such as school-community gardens, as well as to fight against malnutrition in the learner population. Through school-community gardens, the schools harvested vegetables for the feeding scheme meals in the fight against malnutrition, thereby improve learner concentration during lessons. Schools have also formed partnerships with the private companies and NGOs to secure support towards classroom building. Community members are encouraged through community leaders to respect and protect the school property. Partnership with the broader community has improved the physical conditions of schools and reduced the propensity of vandalism.
Fundraising is used as an additional source of income when school fees and departmental allocation could not satisfy the needs of a school.
Through this, most schools have managed to improve resources for learning and teaching, as well as to fund extra-mural activities and excursions. The parent community had been the epitome of this success as they were the ones who willingly provide such financial support over and above fees, despite their low income. This is one form of partnership between the schools and parents in dealing with under-resourcing at schools.
These in sights indicate that rural communities are not helpless as they have been generally perceived, but they possess innovative potential to transform their plight. If these schools were helpless, no vegetable gardens catering for the school and the community would have been in place. No decline in vandalism of school property would have been achieved in some schools through creating awareness of respecting school property by community leaders. Therefore, any development agency that is willing to be involved in the development struggle of rural communities, has to firstly appreciate these existing strategies, and look at these communities as already developing. People in these communities are not passive recipients, but they possess depth indigenous knowledge on how to deal with the challenges of education provision.