January 2011 - Excel-erate Teacher Training Project
Two years, 10 trainers, 1542 teachers, 6 districts, and a lot of impact!
On September 30th, 2010, our $650,000 CIDA-funded teacher training project, Excel-erate, came to a close. But don't worry! With your support, we are doing our best to carry on training teachers, and our trainers are currently training in the Qarabagh district of Kabul province. We also hope to soon recruit a chemistry and physics trainer to our team.
In the meantime, we would like to share with you the results of Excel-erate, as we reported them to CIDA at the end of December 2010. Below is a quick summary of some of the key results of this two year project. The Excel-erate project overall achieved outstanding results. The project was met with enthusiasm by the teacher participants, and quickly established a reputation for results that caused the training to gain a wait list that far exceeded its capacity to accommodate. Even though the original number of beneficiaries had been tripled by the end of the project, an additional 2,000 teachers in the province were still waiting to join the training program by the time it wrapped up in the fall of 2010.
The main results of the project are as follows:
- By the close of the project, a total of 1,542 in-service teachers have been trained, representing approximately 10% of all teachers in Kabul province, and approximately 1% of the country’s entire teacher population . Fifty-one percent of these trainees were female. The Afghan MoE has focused heavily on recruiting new teachers and building teacher colleges, bringing the number of teachers up from only 11,708 in 2001 to nearly 170,000 in 2010. However, most in-service teachers also lack training: 31% of teachers have completed less than 12 years of basic education and 73% lack the bare minimum teacher education requirements (a high school diploma plus two years post-secondary). This project is thus unique in that it targeted the in-service teacher population, helping to upgrade their skills, immediately impacting the quality of education to which their students were exposed.
- The average teacher in this province instructs 40-45 students per class, and teaches from one to four classes daily in the shift system currently in use to accommodate the lack of space and teachers and the high demand for education. Thus, the training of 1,542 teachers positively impacts between 70,000 to 200,000 or more students annually. The teachers were drawn from a total of 81 schools in the province, most of which have student bodies exceeding 2,000 students. For instance, one school in the project has over 9,300 students divided into four shifts. The in-service training is thus a quick-impact project for improving the quality of education in the short-term, without waiting for the trickle-down effect of new teacher college graduates to join the teaching workforce.
- The professional development also positively impacts the career prospects of the trained teachers, who were each awarded certification as trained teachers by the Ministry of Education, allowing them to earn a higher pay grade. In October 2009, the salary for a trained teacher was raised from US$60/month to US$120/month. Thus, household incomes of the trained teachers increased along with their higher level of training.
- The pre-test and post-test assessments reveal that, on average, the skill level of teachers who graduated from the training, in most districts, improved by 49% . For instance, in Kalakan districts, the average score on the pre-test for teachers of Dari subject was 36%. Post-training, the average score was 89%, a difference of 53%.
- Classroom observation sampling revealed significant behavioral changes on the part of teachers following their training. Teachers were more likely to apply active learning methodologies in place of rote memorization or lecturing, which led to students participating in lessons more. For example, in post-training classroom observation sampling in Bagrami district, 80% of the teachers were using student-centred methodologies regularly and effectively. The students of Excel-erate trained teachers appeared to be more engaged in learning. The use of corporal punishment was lower among teachers who had been trained in the project, and the teachers were observed to have more confidence in their own teaching abilities and were able to exercise more control over the classroom, with reduced student behavioural challenges and disruptions during class time.
- Teachers who participated in the project’s Teachers’ Best Practices Tashriq (“exhibition” or “demonstration”), a competition to foster innovative practices in teaching, frequently engaged in innovative practices post-training and took initiative to independently develop lessons that were student-centred, creative, and well-linked to the curriculum. The Tashriq was the first event of its kind in Afghanistan and proved to be exceptionally popular among participants, who learned from their peers new ideas and practices, and were encouraged to take initiative in experimenting in lesson design.
- Excel-erate teachers were found to be better equipped to address challenges through peer support strategies, as imparted in activities such as the Best Practices Tashriq and the Teachers’ Committees. The teachers had greater access to resources than untrained teachers, such as to the government Teacher Guides and to other materials produced by CW4WAfghan and AWRC that were provided to them during the training, which continued to support the teachers’ skill enhancement post-training.
- Excel-erate science subject teachers were able to deliver lessons more effectively and engage students to a greater degree because their schools had been provided with School Science Lab Starter Kits as part of the project and because the teachers had received “hands-on science” training by the project’s science education specialist, Marianne O’Grady. Classroom observation found that the teachers’ subject knowledge of the sciences had been enhanced by being able to teach and learn with real laboratory materials, rather than purely from textbooks and lectures.
- More than 40 teacher resources were translated into Dari, serving as a permanent collection of materials to enhance teachers lesson delivery; and nearly 500 resources in total were compiled to support teachers’ independent learning.
- The quality of education for students was enhanced by AWRC’s and CW4WAfghan’s efforts to get the MoE to deliver textbooks to the schools from which the trained teachers came from. Normally, most schools have not yet received the new textbooks produced by the Ministry. In the final quarter of the project, for instance, AWRC coordinated with the province’s Department of Education to deliver 6,600 textbooks for grades 10-12 in two schools, which included approximately 200-250 textbooks per subject.
- 10 Afghan teacher educators upgraded their pedagogical skills and training strategies during the project term, receiving specialized training in methodology and science education. Their enhanced skills will continue to impact Afghan teachers beyond the scope of this project.
In March 2008, Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA, approved $500,000 for a CW4WAfghan two year teacher training project in Afghanistan. This project is managed in collaboration with our Kabul Office and an implementing Afghan partner organization. The project will train hundreds of teachers in villages near Kabul. As part of this project, CW4WAfghan has committed $150,000 of the Breaking Bread fundraising donations towards the training programme.
CIDA's Voluntary Sector Fund with the Canadian Partnership Branch matches our donor contributions on a 3:1 basis through our successful application for this project. In addition, funds raised for teachers' salaries by Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan (http://www.littlewomenforlittlewomen.ca), under the Breaking Bread fundraising initiative will be generously matched dollar-for-dollar by CIDA as a result of the challenge made by Minister Oda on International Women's Day, March 8, 2008 (see our NEWSLETTER for Mar/Apr 2008 for full details). This will enable even more female teachers to benefit from the salary and education resources.
- To provide higher quality education in Afghanistan, particularly for women and girls; and,
- To engage Canadians in advancing education for women and girls world wide, as a basic human right.
In summary, Excel-erate is a two-year programme funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan) to provide high quality teacher training in several under-resourced districts of northern Kabul province, Afghanistan.
Schools in these districts suffer from a chronic shortage of trained teachers, textbooks, school supplies, school libraries, and laboratory material. These areas have experienced an influx of returned refugees and migrants and lack the infrastructure to meet the educational needs of pupils, particularly girls.
The Excel-erate teacher training programme benefits the quality of instruction received by girls and boys, supports teachers' knowledge development and teaching abilities, provides educational resources to the participating schools, and builds on the training capacities of our partner's teacher trainers. At least 350 student teachers will participate in several rounds of a two-part teacher-training session during 2008 and 2009, which impart skills in both pedagogy and methodology as well as subject area knowledge such as math, science or social studies. Eight certified trainers will design and conduct a comprehensive, needs-specific training programme with support from an experienced teacher training expert and our project management team.
This programme will also establish a virtual Teachers' Resource Centre to give the trained teachers access to quality teacher education resources in their own languages for their on-going professional development.
Teachers and schools will also be assisted with making improvements to their classrooms, accessing materials, and where possible, to accessing approved textbooks from the Ministry of Education. These additional resources will ensure the newly learned skills acquired by the student trainees are immediately implemented and practiced within the classroom setting.
Purpose of the Project
- To build the knowledge and capacity of teachers at the primary and secondary level in specific under-resourced Districts of Afghanistan;
- To provide Afghan students in community and home-based schools with access to higher-quality education;
- To improve the quality, access and relevance of education for Afghan women and girls to empower Canadians, as global citizens, through awareness raising and activities relating to international development.
Our Partner in Excel-erate
Afghan Women's Resource Centre
AWRC was founded in 1989 by a group of Afghan refugee women in Peshawar, Pakistan to address the immediate needs and interests of Afghan refugee women. AWRC's vision is of a future where Afghan women are active agents of positive change in their community and country. AWRC serves women and children in the provinces of Kabul, Parwan, Kapisa, Laghman and Ningarhar in Afghanistan, and in Peshawar, Pakistan. AWRC focuses on women's empowerment for gender equity and on the protection of children. Currently, their main programmes include: Community Mobilization & Advocacy, Education, Community Empowerment, Supporting Civil Society Organizations.
A virtual teachers' resource library is under development for Afghan teachers.
Below is a copy of the baseline study on girls' education in Afghanistan created by Sanja Golic in 2007 to support the work of this CW4WAfghan CIDA-funded project.