This is the third blog post of a series in which I share about who Edify is and why we do the work that we have chosen to do, specifically why we focus on education training for teachers and business training for school leaders.  If you missed the previous posts, the first post provides a framework for why Edify works in the affordable private school space and a general overview of our 3 interventions in education development. The second post delves into why we provide capital to affordable, Christian schools.  While my original intention was for this to be a 3-part blog post, I have chosen to add a fourth and final post next month since I would have to gloss over too many details about out 2nd and 3rd intervention if I tried to cover all this material in just one post. This would also defeat the very purpose of this series which is to provide a deeper understanding of WHAT, WHY, and HOW Edify works with affordable Christian schools in the developing world. As a review, Edify provides 3 essential services to schools in the developing world, this post will focus on the 2nd of these;
1)      Access to low cost capital for school expansion, improvement and operations.

2)      Teacher and school leadership training to raise the quality of education, increase Christ-centered learning and more effectively operate the school.

3)      Providing access to curriculum and technology resources when appropriate to help schools achieve their mission.

Aside from providing capital to schools, Edify also provides training to teachers, school owners and school administrative staff. Private schools don’t receive subsidies from the government.  Private schools that seek to provide a quality education to the poor must then do so with a shoe string budget that is well managed if they want to keep the rates affordable.  Thus, many of the teachers that work in affordable private schools are grossly underpaid.  Because of this, it is common to see many schools with young, passionate teachers that are able to serve their communities, but do not necessarily have to raise a family on the small salary that they earn.  This young workforce with little experience provides a ripe opportunity for growth through training and mentorship by experienced educators.  In the Dominican Republic, for example, Edify has partnered with a local training organization called APRENDI, a Christian organization composed of experienced private school directors and teachers that provide educational training on a wide variety of topics.  Their trainings for teachers may range from “Christian Discipline” to “Course Planning” or “Biblical Integration”.   The goal is to work with school owners to find the area of greatest need among their teachers and then provide half-day or in some cases even multi-day trainings to the teachers in that community. Trainings provide the participants with the skill sets and resources that they need to effectively improve the quality of education they offer their students while also learning how to integrate Christian principles into all that they teach.

As mentioned before, schools must operate on a small and well-planned budget if they hope to be sustainable and affordable to the poor. Many of the school owners are passionate individuals that have started schools in order to meet the dire need for quality education in their communities. However, they are often pastors or educators that do not have a background in business or administration.  They are eager to learn skill sets like accounting, budgeting and marketing that will give them the set of tools they need to successfully run their school. Edify, through local partners, helps provide business training to school owners and administrators that puts these tools in their hands.  In the Strategic Planning class for example, school directors spend two full days defining their mission, vision, values and goals for the school. They then analyze the schools strengths and weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) that may exist.  By the end of the training the participants have created tangible goals for the next 5 years with written milestones that will help them to reach their objectives.  By supporting directors and school operators with such trainings, school owners can improve their operations and ensure the longevity of their schools through financial sustainability.

Through teacher training and business training to school leaders, Edify works to improve the quality of Christian education and the operational sustainability of the schools so that they may continue to impact their communities for years to come. This element is perhaps the most important in seeing schools be truly transformed.  In the final blog of the series next month, I will explain more about why we provide technology resources and curriculum as the final pillar our work with affordable, Christian schools in Africa and Latin America.