Imagine you are an entrepreneur struggling with getting your business off the ground. You are sharing every day’s challenges and wins with yourself and your team, but no one else. Imagine that many people around you are going through the same process, trials and tribulations. Imagine that they too feel alone in their entrepreneurial adventure. Imagine you don’t have access to these other people, you don’t know they exist, you don’t know what they’ve learned, or how they’ve done things differently.
Encouraging schools to learn together
If you read the statement above and saw a massive missed opportunity, at Opportunity EduFinance we did too. Over the years, we have provided nearly 4,000 school improvement loans, we have worked closely with schools to better serve their students and the communities around them. We have a massive network of schools, but we were not actively leveraging learnings and promoting the schools as support agents for each other. That is why in 2016 we launched the Education Quality programme. EdQ is an innovative way to connect client schools to each other to drive world-class education improvement as well as add ongoing value across the client lending lifecycle.
In a nutshell, the Education Quality programme looks like this: Independent schools committed to improving the quality of education they want to provide form organic, self-organized clusters which in turn develop their own improvement agendas. These clusters use Opportunity EduFinance’s Pathways to Excellence framework to decide on key areas of focus for quality improvement. Partnered with an EduFinance Education Specialist, the cluster empowers itself into a continuous learning and improvement cycle.
The Pathways to Excellence (P2E) is a quality improvement framework for schools created by Opportunity EduFinance alongside global education experts. Schools self-evaluate using P2E, rating themselves across 31 categories ranging from “Clean & Safe Learning Environment” to “Teacher Recruitment & Retention”, “Lesson Planning & Delivery” and many others. It is through these evaluations that clusters are able to define needs and request content or support from the Education Specialists.
The most exciting part of the Pathway to Excellence model is that it meets schools where they are, and supports them in the direction they want to go. Not only is this an inclusive approach, allowing every school and cluster to participate – it is co-created and organic which promotes ownership in the present and commitment with the future.
For example, EduFinance has had tremendous success with the Education Quality programme in Colombia, where we can see that overall, nearly 6000 students have benefited from dynamic and strategic clusters across 24 schools in both Baranquilla and Bogota. With a focus on early childhood education, the clusters in the city of Barranquilla aim to build trust and solidarity through environmental awareness and stewardship, while strengthening literacy. And in Africa, EduFinance is working with over 600 schools in clusters across Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Jonathan Renaudon-Smith EduFinance’s Director of Education Quality comments,
“We are delighted that, by bringing together affordable private schools into self-improving school systems, we have been privileged to witness the unlocking of some of the huge potential that has previously gone largely untapped in these schools. Sharing together what is working for them and then adding to the mix some challenging ideas from around the world, is creating a powerful and creative school development environment, built upon the strong trust relationships that leaders and teachers are developing between their schools.”
What does the data tell us?
The success of the EdQ model is felt strongly by the participating students, teachers and administrators, but what can all of this data tell us about the future of education?
EduFinance is starting to develop and use tablet-based assessments which provide a yearly stoplight on school improvements. This is a great tool for schools, but an even stronger tool for EduFinance. We are able to identify trends, strengths, weaknesses and most importantly track and measure the educational progress of schools. This information gives us visibility into what success looks like and how we can create more of it within our client schools and through partner institutions.
Not only does Education Quality connect people and schools on similar journeys, it creates a virtuous cycle of learning and improvement. The data generated is helpful at the local level, but also in terms of analysing trends to multiply impact across the world. Adding immeasurable value to a client school’s programme and capacity, EdQ has also been able to create considerable value to partner lending institutions providing the School Improvement Loans. For example, we saw in Ghana, across a sample of participating EdQ schools savings of nearly 5% of total programme costs. What does this mean? The Education Quality programme is successfully creating stronger relationships between client schools and lending partners through a significant value adding activity, which in turn not only improves timely repayment but contributes to the creation of a lifelong customer.
Click here for an overview of Opportunity EduFinance’s Education Quality programme.