Bicycles for Educational Empowerment (BEEP)

WBR’s Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP) approach is built on three pillars designed to promote program sustainability and impact: partnership, capacity building, and a high quality bicycle designed for rural Africa. WBR leverages the local expertise of partner NGOs that implement educational programs at community level addressing student retention, attendance and performance outcomes, but face the challenge of distance. The partner forms a Bicycle Supervisory Committee (BSC) composed of school officials, members of the PTA, community and church leaders and traditional leaders. In addition to raising awareness about girls' education, the BSC manages the project, the WBR-trained Field Mechanic, and ensures beneficiaries living far from school are selected based on low attendance, punctuality, vulnerability, age, and gender. WBR targets girls to receive 70% of bicycles. The BSC ensures selected students sign study-to-own contracts, which state the bicycle becomes his/her property if primarily used and maintained for accessing education. After successful sensitization about BEEP, the BSC has capacity in project, resource management and community-based monitoring and evaluation. WBR provides a superior bicycle designed based on end-user feedback from nine years of operating health and education projects in Africa. The Buffalo Bicycle has a reliable front and rear braking system, a reinforced fork and a strong rear carrier that holds up to 100 kg. Children walking long distances to school face many challenges including increased tardiness, exhaustion, and safety risks. Adolescent girls, in particular, are at risk for complete withdrawal from the educational system. Research shows that education is an essential element to end the cycle of disease (like HIV) and poverty. While the scope of the problem is broad, one strategy to increase student attendance, enrollment, and retention is safe, reliable transportation to school. BEEP provides durable, reliable bicycles, primarily to girl students, to significantly reduce their travel time to school. BEEP achieves sustainable program impact through: i) partnership with reputable NGOs; (ii) creation of a diverse committee enabling deep community involvement; (iii) incentivizes bicycle maintenance and care and school attendance through study-to-own contracts signed by students and parent; and (iv) training bicycle mechanics, ensuring bicycles remain in good working order. BEEP is: 1) a cost effective way to improve educational outcomes for adolescent girls; 2) a sustainable solution leading to long-lasting change, and 3) an appropriate technology to address long distances rural students in Africa face. Using a quality, durable bicycle to improve access to education is both simple and more cost effective than constructing schools or introducing dedicated buses or taxis. At the core of program design is recognition that the local community has to embrace BEEP for success. The creation of the Bicycle Supervisory Committee (BSC) lies at the heart of this community-based approach. By involving local leaders, the program gains legitimacy and ensures the bicycles remain in use for improving access to school. The bicycle distribution and handover ceremonies highlight the importance of the bicycles, reward the students and enable the BSC to show their leadership. The bicycle design is innovative in its unique balance of quality and durability while remaining cost-effective. WBR continuously tests and improves the design of the Buffalo Bicycle. Bicycle components are durable, readily repairable with very basic tools, and compatible with locally available spares. Competing bikes in the market are low cost and low quality or much more expensive, but designed to be lightweight rather than tough. Competing low-end bikes can begin to fail in a matter of weeks; the Buffalo Bicycle is designed to last for many years with basic maintenance.

Activities

BEEP strengthens rural community capacity through formation of local Bicycle Supervisory Committees (BSCs) and empowering Field Mechanics with the knowledge and skills to maintain the bicycles. The BSC is a local authority for BEEP, and is empowered to select beneficiaries living furthest from school; facilitate community mobilization for sensitization and distribution ceremonies; select and monitor community-based bicycle mechanics; administer study-to-own contracts for bicycle beneficiaries; monitor bicycle usage and adherence to contracts; arbitrate any violation of the contracts, facilitate spare parts store, spare sales and distribution. These roles and responsibilities empower the community and improve local governance standards.

Additional information

The primary objective of BEEP is that girl and boy students have improved access to education and educational outcomes. Program success is measured through routine M&E: # of Bicycle Supervisory Committees formed # of mechanics trained % bicycle usage per term % termly pass rate of girls and boys receiving bicycles % change in student attendance for girls and boys % change in average time to travel to school % change in academic performance at end of each term 100% of monthly monitoring tools submitted by BSC to the implementing organization % of students adhere to T&Cs of contract (using bicycles 3, 6 and 9 months after receipt, bicycles used and kept in good condition by targeted students during the contract period).

Locations

  • Colombia
  • Malawi
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Zimbabwe
  • Zambia

Sectors

  • Agriculture
  • Economic Recovery and Development
  • Education
  • Health
  • Capacity Strengthening for CSOs (general)
  • Water Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Gender
  • Transport/Infrastructure