Opportunity EduFinance offers a holistic three-year school development program to local affordable non-state schools, called the 'EduQuality Program’ which focuses on improving the education children receive and fostering an enabling environment for learning. The program, designed as a sustainable model, is delivered through a blended learning model that combines digital, self-access content on tablets for school leaders and teacher mentors with highly interactive in-person training and support.
As part of a process of continual reflection, EduFinance gathers stories and perspectives from school leaders and other school staff to demonstrate the range of experiences and the developments happening at partner schools.
Read and watch stories from EduFinance partner school leaders and teaching staff here.
These stories of impact enable us to understand how school leaders have been able to develop their schools because of EduFinance lending and improve the quality of instruction they are delivering through the EduQuality Program.
In this blog, we will share stories that show the journeys that school leaders have taken to provide better quality, affordable education for the children in their community.
WHAT ARE SCHOOL LEADERS’ BACKGROUNDS?
Affordable non-state schools are established by entrepreneurs with a variety of backgrounds - from business owners to former classroom teachers.
Benard Nelson previously worked as a marketing supervisor at Network Computer Systems, the first internet company in Ghana, and he is the managing director of Fushay Ventures, a construction firm in Accra. When Mr. Nelson set up the Positive Brains School in Ghana in 1998, it had only two learners. It was the first preschool in Gbegeyise, and it was extended in 2012 with a primary school section. The school’s motto, ‘Creative Thinking’, is reflected in Mr. Nelson’s diverse professional background.
Annet Omoding, started as a small business owner and talented baker in Soroti, Uganda. Her goal was to open an education center to help children in her community, especially younger girls.
Ms. Neema Mgarura and her family operated a children's daycare center in Tanzania, caring for children from very low-income families and some who did not have guardians. As the number of children grew, Ms. Mgarura realized she would be able to help the children more by aiding their education and in 2013 opened Cornerstone English Medium school, with 15 learners and two teachers.
WHY DO SCHOOL LEADERS TAKE OUT SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT LOANS?
School Improvement Loans set the stage for rapid and sustainable improvement, ensuring more students gain access to a better education. For some school owners, it’s adding classrooms, textbooks, and desks. For others, it’s installing running water, dormitories, or gender-separated bathrooms—all are important provisions that keep students, especially girls, in school.
Ms. Nassozi Divine, in Uganda, was initially a classroom teacher, but her popularity among students and their parents motivated her to start her own school. Her Grace Nursery and Primary School, established in 1995, now boasts over 100 students. As the school was growing, it became difficult to accommodate the increasing number of enrolled students. A loan from Letshego Bank allowed Ms. Divine to expand the school’s infrastructure.
Ms. Omoding worked tirelessly until she was able to open a small nursery school within the premises of her church in 2005. By the end of the year, the number of enrolled children had risen to such an extent that Ms. Omoding was compelled to take out multiple bank loans and build Faith Christ Primary School, the school that she now owns. Now she has managed to pay back all the loans used to build the school which is proudly established as a registered Nursery and Primary school, with a total of 430 learners. Her current efforts are now focused on assembling a stable and qualified teaching staff.
WHAT ARE SCHOOL EXPERIENCES IN THEIR CLUSTERS AND OUTREACH INITIATIVES
School leaders identify a range of changes and improvements to their schools and local communities.
For Ms. Divine, leader of Grace Nursery and Primary School, her cluster meeting with her peer school leaders helped her learn about school fee collection strategies, culture practices, and teacher engagement strategies in other schools.
In addition to running her school, Ms. Divine works to reduce instability in the students’ home environments, which is a barrier to learning for many children in her community. The school offers parenting seminars to support the families, and these have boosted parent participation in school matters.
At Faith Christ Primary School in Uganda, Ms. Omoding also focuses on supporting her local community, she encourages lower-income families to educate their children, especially younger girls. To help support families, the school offers bursaries to parents with 3 or more children enrolled in her school, as well as to disabled students.
WHAT HAVE SCHOOL LEADERS LEARNED FROM SCHOOL LEADER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TRAINING?
Similar to many business owners, school owners often self-identify as lacking certain skills that are beneficial for operating a school. As part of the EduQuality program, senior school leaders are offered professional development training with a focus on instructional leadership and school management best practices.
From those sessions, I learned so many things about school management, school finance, and school budgeting, and that really helped us build a good base and foundation on how to run our school. You need to find something that makes your school unique."
- Daphine Esese Abur, Jerusalem Primary, Tanzania
Ms. Omoding says that the professional development training has played a significant role in the growth of Faith Christ Primary School. The workshops promoted staff training in terms of structuring child-centered lessons, marking schemes and general coordination between teachers.
Also through the program’s workshops, Ms. Divine, Grace Nursery and Primary School, was able to improve her knowledge of financial and business administration, branding and marketing initiatives, and staff retention strategies.
Madam Charity Chege shares that the workshops have boosted the school’s efforts to establish an effective administrative structure. One result of the support is that Mt. Claire Preparatory School is now following budgeting plans for future school years.
WHAT DO SCHOOL LEADERS HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?
A key part of the EduQuality program is helping school leaders to plan for the future and to identify the needs of their students and local area.
Ms. Levina Robert says that there is a lack of good schools in her area and that many parents cannot afford to pay for quality education for their children. In her school, ROI International School in Tanzania, she focuses on adopting teaching strategies and models that are effective in improving students’ learning. Keen on making it easier for parents to educate their children, she allows them to pay the school fees in installments. She appreciates the impact of the EduQuality program and how it could help other school leaders, they would like the program to be extended to a wider range of schools across the country.
Thanks to her ongoing pursuit of her vision, Cornerstone English Medium School, transitioned from operating informally to being fully registered as a primary school. Ms. Mgarura, now hopes to expand the school by offering secondary classes within the next two years. She is intent on driving her school’s development and improvement, ensuring the school is both sustainable and offering quality education to learners.
Visit the EduFinance Stories of Impact page to read and watch more from our partner schools.