Most programmes have faced similar challenges and limitations in transporting materials to schools, and have found transferable approaches to what works. These are:
- Financing: the burden of paying for delivery falls on different actors. The literature is clear that either the government or the publishers should cover the costs, but often it has been teachers who travel to warehouses and pay to collect school supplies.
- Accessibility: many countries experience problems in getting supplies through the ‘last mile’ to their final destination. Rains and difficult roads can prevent final delivery to rural and inaccessible areas. Appropriate vehicles and timing can overcome this. School stakeholders express a clear preference for supplies to be delivered directly to the school rather than having to collect them.
- Partnerships: commercial, NGO or school partnerships are a key factor in facilitating delivery. Some programmes have piggybacked on existing commercial organisations’ delivery systems to help deliver their goods; while others use local organisations to provide data and information on how best to operate. Publishers and booksellers are a key part of the supply chain. Cooperation with school stakeholders (teachers and parents) is essential for successful management.
- Management systems: there is often poor and unreliable data from end-to-end of the programme, including numbers of students in a school, numbers of materials produced, correct storage and stocktaking, monitoring of delivery and correct invoicing.
- The literature considered in this review was largely gender-blind, although one report raises that female teachers may not be able to collect books from warehouses and are reliant on male peers to help.