Tag: Varkey Foundation


GHANA’S FIRST INTERACTIVE DISTANCE-LEARNING TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAMME HAVING ‘HUGE IMPACT’ ON QUALITY OF TEACHING

  • Independent evaluation shows Train for Tomorrow leading to more teachers using cutting-edge pedagogy
  • Findings come after similar independent study showed pupils in MGCubed programme are reading more words per minute and are one year ahead in numeracy tests compared to their peers
  • Varkey Foundation also opens five new studios to further enhance its programmes and assist in scaling up teacher training across the country

New independent evaluation shows the huge impact an innovative distance-learning teacher training programme in Ghana is having on the quality of teaching practices.

Train for Tomorrow, run by the Varkey Foundation, the education charity, and funded through a $2 million USD grant from Dubai Cares, is sub-Saharan Africa’s first live two-way interactive distance learning teacher training programme.

Since August 2015, 40 ‘hub’ schools have been provided with solar powered and satellite-enabled video-link equipment, allowing highly qualified ‘master trainers’ in Accra to conduct regular interactive training sessions that focus on best practice teaching methods, including group work, critical thinking, the use of higher order thinking skills, reflection and analysis – techniques that deliver better quality educational outcomes.  The head teachers and school leaders who participate in these sessions then go back to their own schools and repeat the training for the other teachers in their schools, reaching nearly 5,000 teachers and 90,000 students.

The independent evaluation, by Dalberg Global Development Associates, shows that teachers going through Train for Tomorrow showed a statistically significant improvement in instructional performance, including:

  • Wave 1 teachers in the 40 hub schools improved their scores on Direct Classroom Observations of their use of the improved teaching techniques by 38%, and Wave 2 and Wave 3 teachers by a huge 137%;
  • The percentage of Wave 2 and 3 teachers who encouraged cooperative learning – which enhances retention of learning through group work – increased from 13% in the baseline analysis to 60%;
  • Train for Tomorrow teachers are also more likely than other teachers to explain to students what they will be learning during a lesson and why; are more likely to be aware of the individual needs and students; and to provide a safer learning environment (physical and verbal threats can be a significant issue in many Ghanaian schools).  All these have been shown to have a dramatic effect on a pupil’s ability to learn.

Programmes like Train for Tomorrow are vital because so many Ghanaian teachers have not been formally trained to teach. According to 2014/15 figures from the Ghanaian Ministry of Education, almost 63,000 (45 per cent) of the 138,928 working primary school teachers were untrained, as were 31,208 (30 per cent) of the 103,358 junior high school teachers.  There is also a significant lack of in-service teacher training, so even those who have been trained initially are not able to update their knowledge and skills regularly.

The quality of teaching is also important due to the high numbers of children in sub-Saharan Africa either out of school completely, or dropping out of education – higher quality teaching is more likely to inspire children to attend school.  According to UNESCO, there were 413,314 out-of-school children in Ghana in 2014.

Train for Tomorrow therefore sets out to transform the experiences of both pupils and teachers by raising the quality of classroom instruction.

Vikas Pota, CEO of the Varkey Foundation, said:

“The results of this independent evaluation clearly demonstrate that pioneering edtech can improve learning in parts of the world that are often off the power grid, have limited access to the internet and have few resources to share. I hope it encourages investors to come forward and support similar projects and also inspire entrepreneurs to come forward with fresh tech ideas that are hardy enough to improve education in parts of the world that need their help most.

“We would like to acknowledge Dubai Cares for funding this programme as well as the contributions of everyone associated with making it a success, including all the teachers that have gone through the training and cascaded learning to their schools, the Girls’ Education Unit and the Ministry of Education.”

Speaking about the benefits of Train for Tomorrow, Mr. Isaac Affoh, headmaster of Bosovilla Presbyterian Basic School, said:

“Our classrooms are now modernised and have become very conducive for teaching and learning. Teachers enjoy lessons as much as pupils and academic performance is improving steadily, thanks to the  Varkey Foundation’s Train for Tomorrow project.”

His Excellency Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares, said:

“We believe that teacher training is the cornerstone of ensuring quality education. We also value and invest in innovative solutions aimed at eliminating obstacles that prevent children from having access to quality education. With Train for Tomorrow, our aim is to improve the quality of teaching, and create a positive teaching and learning experience for children in Ghana, through an innovative program model by utilizing technology.

“The learnings from the final evaluation of the program which has concluded, will contribute to the growing evidence surrounding teacher training modalities, helping strengthen the design and delivery of teacher training programs in developing countries.”

In addition to the independent evaluation of the programme, Varkey Foundation monitoring during summer 2016 found that:

  • Nine in 10 Instructional Leaders (teachers that undergo the initial training from the master trainers in Accra, and cascade it through their schools) had changed their way of teaching since undergoing Train for Tomorrow;
  • Eight in 10 Instructional Leaders indicated a change in pupil attitude since starting Train for Tomorrow;
  • Seven in 10 Wave 3 teachers had changed their way of teaching since starting Train for Tomorrow;
  • 74 per cent of teachers were communication lesson objectives (important for setting pupils’ expectations and helping facilitate achievement).

The findings on Train for Tomorrow come shortly after a similar independent evaluation of another interactive distance-learning programme that is aimed directly at pupils.

Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed), a three-year pilot project funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) and run by the Varkey Foundation, is the first project in the country to use interactive distance learning technology to deliver Maths and English lessons daily to 10,000 girls (and boys) in 72 government schools in some of the most deprived communities.

The schools are equipped with solar panels and a satellite connection in order to link with live broadcasts of lessons from highly-qualified teachers, using internationally-approved teaching methods, from a studio in Accra.

Independent evaluation of MGCubed conducted by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), published in August, showed the model has had a significant impact on increasing literacy and numeracy skills among marginalised girls and boys.  In literacy tests, MGCubed students were able to read between 3.21-3.74 more words per minute than those in regular classes; and in numeracy tests MGCubed teaching was found to increase average scores by the equivalent of one school year.

The Varkey Foundation last month also opened new studios to enable it to continue to deliver its high quality interactive distance learning programmes.  

Whereas the programmes initially operated from three studios, a move to new offices means the Foundation has increased the number of studios to five.  As well being larger, they’ve also been fitted with the latest technology to help the Foundation to continue to deliver high quality education and training to children and teachers across the country.

NEW RESEARCH SHOWS IMPACT OF GHANA’S FIRST INTERACTIVE DISTANCE LEARNING EDUCATION PROGRAMME

Pupils benefiting from MGCubed programme reading more words more minute and are one year ahead of their peers in maths tests

New research to be published shows the extensive impact an innovative distance-learning programme is having on the educational attainment and life chances of marginalised girls and boys in Ghana.

Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed), a three-year pilot project funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) and run by the Varkey Foundation, is the first project in the country to use interactive distance learning technology to deliver Maths and English lessons daily to more than 10,000 girls – and boys – in 72 government schools in some of the most deprived communities.

The schools – in Volta (Nkwanta South and Kadjebi districts) and Greater Accra (Ada East, Ada West, Ningo Prampram and Shai Osu-Doku districts) – are equipped with solar panels and a satellite connection in order to link with live broadcasts of lessons from highly-qualified teachers, using internationally-approved teaching methods, from a studio in Accra.

Independent evaluation of MGCubed conducted by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), to be unveiled at a major education conference in Zambia later today, shows the model has had a significant impact on increasing literacy and numeracy skills among marginalised girls.

·      In literacy tests, MGCubed students were able to read between 3.21-3.74 more words per minute than those in regular classes; and

·      in numeracy tests MGCubed teaching has been found to increase average scores by the equivalent of one school year.

In addition to the in-school classes, MGCubed delivers an after-school girls’ club called ‘Wonder Women’ to up to 50 girls per school, including out-of-school girls. The sessions cover topics such as early pregnancy, early marriage, reproductive health, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, career guidance and the environment as well as introducing girls to adult role models. The goal is to encourage girls to stay in or return to school, and  raise their aspirations for their futures.

MGCubed facilitators – either female teaching staff already at the schools, or female volunteers from the community – receive training in best-practice pedagogy to enable them to facilitate the in-school distance learning lessons and the after-school lessons, providing a critical link back into the communities to help reinforce the positive attitudinal changes towards girls’ education that the intervention hopes to achieve.

Internal research conducted by the Varkey Foundation, also to be published for the first time today, shows that, in addition to the literacy and numeracy improvements:

·      Teachers are more motivated to do their job. Teacher motivation is high, as evidenced by low absenteeism – the rate of teacher absenteeism in MGCubed classes was found to be just 0.5% over the whole project.

·      The project is correlated with improved class attendance. Data collected by staff until June 2016 indicates that over the course of the project, average attendance in MGCubed classrooms increased by nearly 7%.

·      MGCubed is having a spillover effect on classroom instruction. MGCubed facilitators do not restrict their improved knowledge and skills to the MGCubed classrooms, but have been found to employ MGCubed strategies in “regular” classes.  Over three-quarters of facilitators interviewed stated that they used starter activities and nearly three-quarters group work.

·      MGCubed has increased participation and motivation in school, beyond its principal pupil beneficiaries. In in-depth interviews with girls, nearly 70% of respondents noted a change in the way the MGCubed facilitator teaches in a non-MGCubed class. Key changes include a reduction in caning, with a third of girls voluntarily reporting that teachers in MGCubed classes did not use the cane.  Other reported changes include teachers “taking their time” or being more patient (23%). Over 40% of pupils cited the use of group work/pair work/”joining in” activities as their favourite aspect of the project because they were able to learn from peers and “discuss freely” rather than “feel shy”. Of the 230 feedback surveys in which facilitators were recorded as saying they used MGCubed techniques in their classrooms, 100% made an explicit reference to pupils in their classes being more engaged, performing better, and working well as a group.

·      MGCubed has raised levels of self-esteem, with an increase in girls who volunteer for leadership positions, and a 14% increase in girls who volunteer to answer questions during MGCubed lessons.

The research findings will be announced today by Leonora Dowley, the Varkey Foundation’s Country Director for Ghana, at the Forum for African Women Educationalists 2017 conference in Lusaka, Zambia.

Leonora Dowley said: “This new research shows MGCubed’s interactive distance learning model has been incredibly effective at increasing literacy and numeracy skills for disadvantaged girls and boys. 

“In addition, it is improving girls’ life chances by combatting deep-seated cultural values about girls and their educational potential.

“The results are also testament to the efforts of the Ghana Education Service, including its Girls’ Education Unit, who have worked closely with the Varkey Foundation to design the programme and monitor activity in schools.”