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“They realize that they are part of a global network of education providers," Meet the 2022 Global EduQuality Awards Winners

By Catherine O'Shea

In November 2022, Opportunity International EduFinance announced the winners of the 2022 Opportunity International Global EduQuality Awards. Read the full Awards Report here!

“The EduQuality Awards provide an opportunity for schools to pause and reflect on their implementation journey and take stock of the gains made so far and where they need to make improvements. They are able to ‘zoom in’ on the quality of their schools.” Innocent Masengo, Head Education Specialist, Africa

Opportunity EduFinance currently delivers the EduQuality program in 9 countries, partnering with 1,963 affordable schools that are working educate an estimated 624,000 learners.

In a series of five ceremonies, 2022 school winners were awarded monetary prizes and recognized for demonstrating the greatest levels of innovation and determination to improve the quality of education for their learners.

School Winners Selection Process

The Global EduQuality Awards program seeks to acknowledge the schools most dedicated to the advancement of high-quality education. Schools are identified in any context, regardless of location, resources available, or size of the school.The awards seek to identifies the most active, innovative, and committed schools in creating positive change in the quality of education provided at their school. The purpose of the awards program is to identify a center of excellence among Opportunity EduFinance partner schools. A center of excellence exemplifies several core qualities, including:

After two years of pandemic school closures and uncertainty, the majority of EduQuality partner schools reopened with enthusiasm and momentum. During the pandemic, school leaders and teachers exhibited outstanding resilience, ingenuity, and compassion. To acknowledge this, the 2022 awards were relaunched to identify partner schools that have demonstrated the greatest level of innovation and determination to improve the quality of education in their schools using the Pathways to Excellence guide.

Each Education Specialist nominated a maximum of three schools, then supported each nominated school in applying for the EduQuality Awards. All schools that completed Year 1 of the EduQuality program by June 2022 were eligible to participate, which included schools from Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia and Tanzania. (The EduQuality Colombia program celebrated with separate awards in early 2022. To learn more, read our EduQuality Colombia Awards report here.)

Innocent Masengo, Head Education Specialist for Africa, explains there are larger benefits to the application process beyond the awards. “At the end of the day, there are no losers, as the process of self-analysis and writing down achievements enables schools to focus on the value they are getting from our interventions. More importantly, by competing with schools from other countries or even continents, schools realize that they are not just small local social enterprises, but they are part of a larger regional and global community of education providers."

1st Prize: Orpcare Primary School in Kayonza, Rwanda

Orpcare Primary School in Kayonza, Rwanda teaches learners from pre-primary through lower secondary. The school owner Gakwaya Leonard has driven expansion efforts over the last two years, growing from 400 to 651 enrolled learners.

Their School Development Plan primary focus areas were Marketing & Branding and School Management.

After joining EduQuality and learning from the Pathways to Reopening guide aimed at supporting schools to effectively plan for reopening, Orpcare school began utilizing strategies to better engage with teachers, parents, and learners during closures. School leaders messaged both teachers and parents regularly on WhatsApp, reassuring everyone that the school was making a maximum effort towards reopening after the pandemic. Leadership credits these communication strategies, not generally common among schools, with helping retain both teachers and learners at the school

After reopening the school management committee members established a schedule for social events targeting parents and other community members. They organized an ‘education week’, where parents are allowed to supervise teachers in their classrooms. This has helped increase awareness of teaching methods, and parents are encouraged to submit their feedback too.

Orpcare also invested efforts into behavior management skills as part of its school development plan. They did this through creating a behavior management policy with a clear process explaining how to positively manage behavior, and training teachers on inclusive behavior management, reinforcing discipline procedures, and conflict resolution options. Because they now understand the importance of parent communication, they also scheduled meetings with parents to explain the policies.

Rebecca Curley, EduQuality Manager reflected on how the first prize winners were chosen: "Orpcare Primary stood out to the judges because they continue to strive for educational success, they use a wide range of methods to market the school including radio, school brochures and the school mission. They created a clear vision for the school which is very attractive for parents and create a sense of pride and belonging for learners. The school is a model example of school improvement and excellence.”

2nd Prize - BrightShine Educational Center, Nairobi, Kenya

Mrs. Florence Awino and Mr. Tom Gwara established their own pre-primary school in September 2010, with 9 learners and 2 teachers. Currently, the school boasts 566 learners and 23 staff members and offers primary classes as well.

Their School Development Plan primary focus areas were School Culture and Child Protection. Brightshine Educational Center recognized a growing indifference towards child protection locally. Since the school is in an informal settlement in the Kayole Soweto area, there is a high number of children forced into labor, or resorting to street begging, to help support their familial income. As a result of this there was a large number of out-of-school children, as well as an increased likelihood of sexual abuse, substance abuse, and physical and psychological neglect, which was only further exaggerated once the pandemic hit.

To address these growing concerns, the school leaders and their team implemented multiple strategies for improving child protection:

  • Using learnings from the School Leadership Professional Development (SLPD) workshops, a committee was formed to spearhead the development of the child protection policy. The deputy head teacher was appointed as ‘Child Protection Officer.’
  • The committee led child protection and safeguarding training for all teaching and non-teaching staff, and all staff were required to sign copies of the policy.
  • Parents are asked to engage in the safekeeping of their children’s mental and physical well-being. Support meetings are held to discuss parental responsibilities and child protection. The school also established a 24-hour phone line to ensure parents and children could share any child protection concerns.

Honorable Mention: Rising Star Montessori School, Accra, Ghana

Rising Star Montessori School offers classes from pre-primary to lower secondary level and has a total of 705 enrolled learners. Their School Development Plan primary focus area was Finance and Business Management. During the pandemic, Mrs. Chatherine Ankrah, the school proprietor, faced financial losses and repayment of the school improvement loan and paying teacher salaries became increasingly difficult.

Being a part of the EduQuality program allowed her to face these challenges. In consultation with the EduSpecialist supporting her cluster, she developed a one-year operating budget for the school. Resources for the development of the budget came from the Pathways to Excellence resource book. Through the establishment of a stakeholder and financial management committee, the school now has:

  • Mobile money transfers and bank transfers for school fees
  • 2 new school buses which led to an increase in student enrolment
  • A new classroom block to accommodate the increasing number of students

Honorable Mention: Levites Academy, Tafo, Ghana

Levites Academy is owned by Bernard Menyah. The school offers pre-primary and primary classes and has a total enrolment of 285 learners.

Their School Development Plan primary focus area was Marketing and Branding. Through the training provided, Mr. Bernard realized the need to rebrand and market the school to families, specifically recognized the lack of engagement withlearners’ parents as a result of difficult communication and access to the school’s location. To bridge this gap the school set up:

  • A WhatsApp group to increase parents’ engagement
  • An SMS platform to send fee reminders
  • A Google location to facilitate easier access to the compound for parents and visitors
  • A welcome committee of teachers to call parents and receive them at the school
  • Casual social events to further develop a sense of community

Honorable Mention: Authentic International Academy, Nyagatare, Rwanda

Authentic International Academy opened its doors in February 2015 with 80 learners. The school now has a total of 307 enrolled learners across daycare, pre-primary, and primary classes.

Authentic International Academy decided to draft a three-year School Development Plan, prioritizing child protection after learning about the value of the process during a School Leadership Professional Development workshop. The plan was developed in consultation with the PTA committee along with teachers and the school’s board of directors and shared with all staff and parents. 

Having attended several of the award ceremonies, Innocent reflected on the engagement across school partners during the events. “I was amazed at how excited schools in the cluster were while attending the award ceremony because one of them won an award. Keep in mind that these are schools that used to see each other as enemies because of competing for learners in the same community.

In Nyagatare village in upcountry Rwanda, where a small young school, Authentic Primary School, won an award, all cluster schools attended as well as other stakeholders including local government authorities, the school board, parents, and local organizations working in the same area. It also gives confidence to small rural schools that the award is not about the size of the school, but the progress made in improving learning conditions through the implementation of Pathways to Excellence.”

The 2022 Global EduQuality Awards Program were established to further help schools be inspired by the development and progress being made by other local, national, and international schools. It encourages them to share ideas and techniques through a community of practice all following Pathways to Excellence. We look forward to seeing the learnings that will be shared by the next Global EduQuality Awards.

The EduQuality program at Opportunity EduFinance brings together local entrepreneurs of affordable non-state schools in a self-improving school system (a network of school clusters). Collaborating with EduFinance financial institution partners lending to these schools, the EduQuality team offers this holistic school development program, allowing schools to opt-in for the three-year program including: Pathways to Excellence, School Leadership Professional Development, and Teacher Mentor Professional Development. 

Read our latest Key Insight here on schools making quality improvements between their first and final year of the EduQuality program.

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