Our lending programs are hitting on all cylinders in Ghana and the DR and in Rwanda we are expanding quickly from start-up mode. We are at the mid-point of our fiscal year and since our start 2.5 years ago we have provided loans to over 500 schools, impacting students over 100,000 students enrolled in these schools with improved and new facilities. We are grateful for the opportunity to work in partnership with our local lending institutions and amazed at how far we have come. But we have only just begun to work on the quality improvement side of our mission statement:
To IMPROVE and expand low-cost Christ-centered education in the developing world. [emphasis added]
Spring has now arrived here in full-force in North America and in the spirit of Spring cleaning I thought it would be appropriate to provide a short update on all of our recent quality improvement initiatives underway at Edify. So forgive the laundry list:
- Teacher training is in full swing on several fronts in the DR, Ghana and Rwanda. We believe that the teacher is at the core of our work – the classroom teacher in a low-cost school in the developing world is both a great challenge and a great opportunity. Low-cost schools battle with high teacher turnover and low-levels of teacher training. We are meeting more and more teachers in our work and continue to be thankful for their openness and enthusiasm for continuous improvement. Through the first half of this year we have trained over 2200 teachers since starting our programs. The training falls into several initiatives:
- Christian transformation – in the DR and in Ghana we are partnering with Christian curriculum and training organizations to equip teachers in their dual role as scholar and shepherd. Check out our work in the DR here and our work in Ghana – just happening this week – here.
- Proprietor training – we have now completed proprietor training in all three countries. In particular, in Rwanda we are teaming up with the International Finance Corp to offer training basic business skills and school leadership.
- Pedagogy training – we are working with Apprendi in the DR to provide teachers with practical skills on classroom management. In January in Ghana we were grateful for the start of an ongoing exchange program with the University of San Diego’s SOLES program. Professors and students from the University are working with schools in Ghana to improve inquiry-based classroom practice. As I write this, a small team from USD has returned to Ghana to develop a coaching program for instructional leadership.
- We have two major initiatives to improve educational outcomes with the use of technology.
- We are in the midst of launching our computer lab loan product that we piloted in schools in Ghana and the DR over the last year. The purpose of this offering is to provide schools with a cost-effective, high-quality and reliable computer lab that will engage students and provide teachers with tools for skill-reinforcement and basic differentiated instruction. We have compiled a pre-installed collection of high quality educational software that is not dependent on internet access – including products from Khan Academy and Flink Learning. Teacher training is a critical portion of this offering as well. This week we are piloting a teacher training program with our local implementation partner, Techaide. Many thanks to Techaide for its partnership in training teachers from our current computer lab schools in Ghana! In preparation for the coming school year, we plan to offer the computer lab loan product to many more schools. We are in 15 or so schools today and expect to expand quickly this summer.
- We are also launching a pilot program with TeacherMate from Innovations for Learning – a non-profit organization with great experience addressing the literacy challenges in North America and the developing world. The TeacherMate program provides a daily dose of targeted, individualized instruction to improve literacy and math using an engaging app on an iPod Touch. We are excited about this program because it has shown strong early results on reading skills for students for whom English is their second language. It also is a good match for our schools who do not have reliable access to the internet. More to come on this project but we will be starting small, initially with two schools in Ghana and one in Rwanda. Thanks to Innovations for Learning for their support!
So from this laundry list it seems we have quite a big push under way on the quality-side of our program with schools. Edify was founded on the key insight that affordable-private schools are a highly scaleable and cost-efficient means for expanding access to significantly better education for the poor in the developing world. With all of these projects aimed at improving the quality of the education, we are taking the key insight to another level by learning what interventions best help schools improve education and spiritual transformation outcomes.