There are over 100,000 primary schools in Bangladesh. They are all different; every single one of them. The teachers are different, the management is different, the locality and types of schools are different. So, how can we develop a model to improve a school’s performance that addresses all these variables and differences? Can a single scalable strategy work for all of them?
Our experience says, yes!! Light of Hope develops a ‘School Development Model’ that seems to work for different schools. We’ve learned from our previous experiences working in different development organizations – BRAC, Save the Children, Plan, Room to Read, UNICEF and took the best components and strategy to design our model. We realized that there is no need to re-invent the wheel. In Bangladesh, we have a dearth of experience working in the education sector. All we need to do is smartly put the learnings together.
While designing our model, we were mindful of few things. Since we are trained engineers and educators, we wanted to create a model that gives the highest ROI (Return on Investment). So we asked ourselves if we invest $100 in a school where should we invest it? Should it be on providing training, or providing writing materials to children, helping schools to build an extra classroom?
For our model, we were mindful of that. Bangladesh has resource scarcity. We can’t allocate a huge amount of budget for every school. We figured out if you have BDT 3-5 lakh for each school for a year, what are the areas that we should invest in to improve the overall educational quality of a school. We’re coming to that point later.
We studied the results and outcomes of our own projects and other organization’s projects and tried to find out what is the single most important factor in school development? Why are some schools performing better during the project and after the project completion?
Here’s what we found: the single most important factor for the success of any school-based project is the level of commitment and motivation of the headmaster or principle. You can do all the different things in schools, giving the most amazing resources, provide training with extra remuneration package for teachers and all. But it all came down to the point – how much the headmaster is motivated to bring change in his/her school.
So, when we select schools for our ‘School Development Program’ we always focus on that.
Another important factor to bring change to school is the teacher group. We need to give them the freedom and the necessary tools for the interested teachers to bring change to his/her classroom. In the development sector, the school intervention is designed inside AC Rooms with people who never been a school teacher in their entire life (99% of the cases). Teachers are merely the receivers of the intervention and they never own it. And that’s why when the project ends, everything ends.
Our experience says, when you give flexibility and freedom to teachers to bring change in their own schools, magic happens. However, they need a strong leadership from the principal/headmaster. It’s the headmaster who will always set the vision for the school along with his/her teacher colleagues.
LoH School Development Model
Light of Hope’s School Development Model consists of mainly two components: providing low-cost resources to schools and teacher professional development. The schools usually go through a year-long journey with us before taking over the full responsibility to bring more innovation into the schools. One key aspect of the model is to empower and equip the school leadership roles so that they can continue the amazing work initiated under the model.
Till date, LoH is working with over 150 schools in Bangladesh who are in different phases of development. Those who complete the entire phase, go on to do amazing things. Miapara Govt. Primary School in Kurigram is one such example. After they go through the journey with us, last year they were selected as the ‘Best School in Rangpur Division’. Their principle, Md. Mijanur Rahman, is awarded from Directorate of Primary Education for his amazing work and innovation that was fueled by Light of Hope.
School Development Model Brief
Providing low-cost high-impact resources
LoH identified 3 low-cost but high-impact resources that help schools to improve overall education and learning outcomes of a school. According to our experience, these are the resources that yield the highest ROI (Return on investment) for higher learning outcomes in schools.
Initially, we set up a low-cost library with age-appropriate storybooks for primary level children. We’ve created a list of 300-400 story books from different book publishers on various age category and theme category (story, fantasy, science, liberation war, personality, moral values etc.). While setting up the library, we ensure these books are provided to schools and read by the children. The objective of the library is to improve reading skills and imagination of the children.
After a couple of months of setting up the library, we set up a ‘science lab in a box’. In primary level, class 3-5 students have science books where there are experiments, but students don’t get the opportunity to learn science with the first-hand experience. Setting up a science lab in primary schools is not a regular practice in our primary level schools. We developed a low-cost science lab that fits inside a box and provides 20-30 science-focused learning toys and tools that help the children to learn science first-hand. Teachers receive training in using the science lab. The experiments are set up based on the curriculum and science book chapters. We also have different science experiment videos that we provide to the multimedia classrooms.
Finally, we set up our solar-run multimedia classroom that runs with just 60W of energy making it extremely helpful for schools with no electricity access or low access (usually during daytime, schools don’t get uninterrupted electricity). Our multimedia classroom is equipped with a lot of multimedia contents developed by us and other organizations developed focusing on the curriculum. The teachers are trained on how to use the multimedia classroom. It is the lowest energy consuming solution ever built for the school’s multimedia classroom. LoH gets national and international awards for the solution.
All the schools get access to our 100 GB multimedia contents that we developed, collected and adapted over a period of last 3 years. We give all these contents to the schools.
Anyone who is interested to get some amazing learning contents can have a look at our youtube channel. Click the picture below to go to the youtube link. We encourage you to subscribe.
So, these are the resources that we provide to every school who goes through the journey with us. We’ve found amazing results over a period of time. But to make these resources work, a rigorous professional development for teachers is also important. Otherwise, the resources will just sit there without making any long-term impact. And for that, we’ve designed the most comprehensive professional development course for the teachers to bring teacher-led innovation in schools.
Professional Development to bring Teacher-led Innovation in Schools
A big part of the model is the professional development opportunity for the teachers including the headmaster to bring teacher-led innovation in schools. Through these series of professional development courses over a period of one year, we give them the necessary tools and equip them to bring change to their schools.
The course is divided into 3 phases, with each phase focusing on one particular stage of development for the school. It starts with a 3-day training program, another 3-day training program after 3-4 months of the initial one and finally a 2-day training program on the 8-9th month of the intervention.
Each phase follows by regular monitoring and teachers can contact the facilitators/trainers if they face any challenge to implement any of his/her ideas in schools.
In the initial stage, we will provide basic training addressing the teachers’ needs. The first 3-day teacher training will focus on the basic areas teachers need primarily on classroom management, developing creative teaching-learning materials and using ICT-based contents & using the training in the classroom.
After basic training teachers will start implementing the knowledge of training in the classroom and will be able to manage the class effectively, increase students’ eagerness for learning and use different teaching-learning materials which will create an ideal learning environment for students. Then 3 months later in the second stage, we will train teachers on how they can teach in effective ways, improve students’ academic performance and actively involve them in learning. The second 3-day teacher training will focus on science education, effective teaching, and teacher leadership.
After 2 stages of training, teachers will be experienced, skilled to move their students’ lives in a way they never thought about it before. So in the final stage training will be on how teachers can make their students able to dream for their future, building future skills among students and developing leadership skills into students for whole school development.
Final 2-day teacher training will be conducted by the end of the year that will focus on providing future skills to students and self-improvement and motivation. The final 2-day training will also provide an opportunity for us to evaluate the overall project.
The schools who go through the development phase, also get some amazing support from us to continue their work to bring innovation in their schools. They are the following:
- 100 GB Audio-visual materials from Light of Hope
- Access to Teachers Time online course portal
- Access to Light of Hope, Teachers Time and Kids Time websites, YouTube Channel and Facebook Teacher Group page for resources and supports that teachers need.
- Reach out to Trainers for support, sharing problems and getting help
During the professional development course for the teachers, we’ve observed transformational change among teachers and school leaders. What we try to achieve is can we encourage, motivate and equip the teachers to bring innovation in the schools. Once teachers are motivated, they can motivate the students – especially students in standard 4 & 5 to be the driving force to bring changes. For example, students along with teachers are setting up a small library, making a garden, setting up ‘lost & found box’ in every class etc.
In Bangladesh, we are working with more than 200 schools who are going through different stages of development. We are really excited and learning new things every day. And we have some encouraging stories of change. Miapara govt. Primary School under the leadership of their principle Mizanur Rahman became the Best Primary School in Rangpur Division in 2017. He got national awards and got tons of appreciation from Government. We are fortunate to work with him during this journey.
Mijanur Rahman is not alone. Hundreds of school principles are doing amazing works every day in their schools. Light of Hope is currently working with only 200 of them. But stories like these encourage us to continue the work that we are doing. We know now that our model is working. And we are excited to explore what’s coming in future.
This 2-minute video will give you a quick overview of our work in schools.
Different organizations, Schools or Institutes who are working to improve and bring innovation in schools, can collaborate with us. We’ll be happy to share our experience and learning, methods and techniques to scale up the model.
If you are interested, drop a line to our CEO directly at [email protected] or call him at 01777800866.