Report: Savings Groups and Educational Investments
This piece of research aims to explore the interaction between two priority areas of work for Plan: education and savings groups. Savings groups – a low-risk form of microfinance based on members’ own savings, often known as Village Savings and Loans Associations – are a key strategy employed by Plan to enhance the economic security of households. Plan has facilitated savings groups since 2003 reaching about 850,000 people, around 82% of them women, in 25 countries. Savings groups are an effective way to foster a savings habit, smooth household income, and build household financial assets. Banking on Change – a partnership between Plan UK, CARE International UK and Barclays – is an example of this work. From 2009-2012 it helped over 513,000 people in eleven countries build their economic resilience; from 2013-2016, it intends to reach over 330,000 people, mostly young women and men, in seven countries.
Plan’s education work focuses on promoting girls’ and boys’ access to inclusive, safe, healthy, child-friendly learning environments; improving the skills of teachers; and offering essential life-skills training. Plan UK’s flagship programme, Building Skills for Life, aims to empower adolescent girls and promote gender equality, with a particular focus on education and is part-funded by a Programme Partnership Arrangement (PPA) with the UK Department for International Development.
This report, Savings Groups and Educational Investments, was commissioned by Plan UK with funding from our DFID PPA in response to an expressed need across both sets of programmes. What level of educational impact can Plan expect from its savings group programmes? To what extent can savings groups help break down the financial barriers to education? (And – broader than the scope of this paper – how does that compare to other approaches to reducing financial barriers to education such as cash transfers or scholarships?). In which ways does participation in savings groups affect educational investments and outcomes? How can Plan better link its savings group and educational programming?