“A platform to learn from the experience of others.” Hear about the educational journey of one ‘edupreneur’ in Zambia
Caption: Ms. Lillian in a pre-primary classroom at Twalumbu Education Centre
After 20 years, school owner Ms. Lillian Mubiana Kapambwe is still actively improving the quality & sustainability of Twalumbu Education Centre, with the support of USAID CATALYZE EduFinance Zambia program.
She exemplifies an ‘edupreneur.’ After retiring as an educationist, she used her pension benefits to start her own primary school in the dam area of Chongwe, Zambia. Twalumbu Education Centre (TEC) started in a simple house in 2003, with rooms converted into offices and classrooms.
An enrolment of one learner soon expanded to three, and then slowly enrolment numbers increased through word-of-mouth by parents. Today Twalumbu Education Centre educates 649 pre-primary and primary learners, and employs a teaching team of 20!
Ms. Lillian recalls focusing on teacher development in the early years of the school, leveraging her own career experience as an educator. She set up weekly ‘teacher group meetings’ to sharpen the skills of teachers recruited from local teacher colleges. She attributes this strategy to the good foundation of both teacher quality and learner engagement at the school, that she is eager to continue building on.
CATALYZE EDUFINANCE ZAMBIA
The CATALYZE EduFinance Zambia program, increases access and quality of education for children in rural and urban Zambia, working with non-state school owners like Ms. Lillian interested in obtaining capital (i.e., a loan) for school expansion or improving the quality of education resources and offerings.
JOINING CATALYZE EDUFINANCE
Caption: TEC front gate, installed to improve security.
Credit: CATALYZE EduFinance Zambia
When Ms. Lillian received a call from EduFinance Zambia Education Specialist, Timothy Simuyemba, she decided to attend the Introductory Workshop in April 2021 and ultimately chose to opt-in to the Education Quality program and join the ‘Firm Foundation’ school cluster.
Ms. Lillian explains the model of organizing peer schools in the same geography into clusters of 5-10 schools has “created a sense of family in the education sector in Chongwe, knowing that there are others going through similar challenges to ourselves. It has also created a platform to learn from the experience of others and get ideas to improve operations.”
As an engaged attendee of the School Leadership Professional Development (SLPD) workshops offered through EduFinance Zambia, Ms. Lillian lists several key takeaways she has applied at her school.
- The Lesson Planning & Assessment workshop offered very practical steps to lead effective learning which she is integrating and sharing with her teachers. She also very much appreciated the emphasis on using open questions during lessons to develop children’s critical thinking ability, as well as the best ways to give learners feedback.
- Parent Engagement has always been a priority for Twalumbu Education Centre, but this workshop emphasized how critical parent engagement is for the survival and growth of the school, which was a key takeaway for her, and informed some of her priorities in the School Development Plan.
- Budgeting for a School Year further developed her understanding of the importance of cash flow planning and forecasting for the school to ensure it remains sustainable.
TWALAMBU EDUCATION CENTER'S DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Ms. Lillian took the guidance of the EduFinance Zambia team when drafting the school’s development plan, soliciting feedback from parents during the PTA Annual General Meeting and also prioritizing improvements on areas with the lowest school self-assessment scores. As a result of this process, three domains of quality were prioritized for improvement:
- Behavior Management
- Financial Management
- Early Childhood
Caption: Ms. Lillian in front of TEC, which is painted to represent the school's aims.
Credit: CATALYZE EduFinance Zambia
IMPROVING BEHAVIOUR MANAGEMENT
As the school did not have a written Behavior Management plan, Ms. Lillian worked with her team to create a written plan outlining clear rules that apply to all learners equally for school, classroom and bus behavior. After creating the plan and rule guides, the staff used a number of sessions during class assemblies to orient learners to the rules, better-advising learners on how they can successfully meet behavior expectations. All classrooms now have their rules displayed, and teachers take opportunities to remind learners of these rules.
IMPACT --- Ms. Lillian and staff report this new approach to clarifying positive behavior expectations for learners has contributed to less student accidents (running, etc.) and disciplinary issues, and overall improved the school culture, fostering more respect between learners and staff.
IMPROVING SCHOOL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
While Ms. Lillian has significant experience as an educator, this is the first education business she has owned and operated. Leveraging her learning from EduFinance Zambia professional development trainings and the Pathways to Excellence guide, she has implemented changes that benefit both school sustainability and parents. An annual budget process is now in place, which is updated as needed led by the School Manager. The Administrative Officer now provides data on operations to forecast income and expenses based on the school’s past performance.
The school no longer accepts cash payments for fees at the school; all fees must be deposited into the school bank account directly. She opened a second bank account in 2022 to give parents more access to banking facilities without having to enter a banking hall, allowing them to use a wider network of registered agents.
IMPACT --- Parents are happy with these improvements and no longer need to physically travel to the school to make payments in-person. The school is also now able to better track all school income through its account statements, and updated budgeting and forecasting processes.
To date, the school infrastructure, facilities and operations have been financed purely from internally generated resources accumulated over the years, as well as prudent management of resources. If Ms. Lillian decides she is ready to take on financing for a larger school investment, the consolidation of school fee payments via account statements will serve as key documentation for a loan application.
IMPROVING THE EARLY CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE
In the early childhood stages of development, ‘play’ is critical to learning, as explained in the Pathways to Excellence guide. Recognizing that the schools was lacking in this area, the school purchase and installed playing equipment to use during play time which is accessible to both pre-primary and primary learners. Mattresses were also purchased specifically for early childhood classes so children can rest comfortably during rest periods.
IMPACT --- Parents have given very positive feedback on these improvements benefiting their pre-primary learners, recognizing value in improved play equipment and learning environment in the classroom.
EduFinance Zambia: Next Steps
To date, EduFinance Zambia, implemented in part by Opportunity International, is working with 174 low-fee private schools in Zambia to provide resources and training to boost the capacity of school leaders and teachers to deliver quality education. The third year of this training program will end mid-2024, with school leaders writing and implementing three school development plans, attending 12 workshops to build financial and business management, and instructional leadership skills, and teacher mentors attending and cascading content from 15 trainings on practical teaching best practices. The aim is to successfully equip school leaders with the necessary skills to continue annual school development planning, making critical quality improvements to their schools, and to institutionalizing the process of regular teacher professional development trainings within the school, sustained beyond the life of the EduFinance Zambia Activity.
About CATALYZE EduFinance
CATALYZE EduFinance (September 2019–2027) uses a blended finance approach to test models that improve and sustain learning outcomes for children and youth globally, particularly those most vulnerable. CATALYZE pilots multiple models in 14 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Asia regions, supporting local education stakeholders in state and non-state education in early childhood development and early childhood care and education; primary and secondary education; technical and vocational education and workforce development; and improving enabling environments. Pilot activities implemented by EduFinance are complemented by a global community of practice, the Education Finance Network.
This report was made possible through support provided by the Bureau for Development, Democracy, and Innovation, Private Sector Engagement (PSE) Hub and Center for Education, U.S. Agency for International Development, under the terms of Contract No. 7200AA19-C00080. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International Development.