This month Opportunity International EduFinance launched its annual Education Quality Awards programme (OI EdQ Awards) to celebrate excellence in the schools it supports across Africa. The Awards programme aims to seek out the schools that have put the most effort, energy, and passion into improving the quality of education provided to their students.
Opportunity EduFinance’s EdQ programme has come a long way since it was first established in 2015. The programme now works with over 800 affordable private schools in 7 countries globally, and continues to expand. The local EdQ teams have grown from a small handful of staff to 18 Education Specialists – all local educators and experts in their specialist areas from Early Childhood through to Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education.
Over the past year, these Opportunity supported schools have been introduced to and are working with the Pathways to Excellence (P2E) school improvement guide. P2E supports school leaders in providing better schools and improved education outcomes for their students. Schools are at different stages of P2E, depending on when they joined the EdQ programme, and to date almost 600 have submitted their P2E self-assessments. These schools have created and are currently implementing School Development Plans, focussing on key areas that contribute to whole school improvement.
Opportunity recognises the incredible work that these schools are putting into improving the education quality they offer to kids in the low-cost communities they serve. As a recognition of the hard work, and the results that are starting to come through, Opportunity EduFinance has launched the Awards programme.
The OI EdQ Awards aims to recognise 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. Andrew McCusker, Head of Opportunity EduFinance says:
“This is not an effort to highlight the best and most impressive school with top facilities, but rather the Awards seeks to identify the most active, innovative, and committed schools in creating positive change in the quality of education provided at their school. We are looking for great examples of local schools that have shown the most improvement in performance, not only recognised by our own Education Specialists but, more importantly, recognised amongst their communities and peers.”
Why launch the OI EdQ Awards?
The purpose of the awards programme is to identify and recognise the impact schools are having on education quality improvement through their use of the Pathways to Excellence guide and their participation in Opportunity’s EdQ programme. Those selected will be a some of the best examples of Opportunity EduFinance’s Centres of Excellence - schools that have demonstrated significant education quality improvement that is recognised within their communities and clusters.
Centres of Excellence exemplify a number of core qualities, including:
- Passion and commitment to overcoming barriers to high quality education
- Active, engaged and professional teaching staff that participate in creating solutions to challenges within the school, notably in teaching, learning and approaches to assessment, that demonstrate effective improvements in learning
- Leadership that supports innovation in creating sustained improvements in the conditions for learning by daring to be different
- Willingness to collaborate with other schools in their clusters, districts, and regions and to share their pathway to excellence
To apply for the Awards, Opportunity EduFinance is asking schools to describe how they have improved conditions for providing quality education within the school, including whether and how they have collaborated with students, teachers, and the community to make those improvements.
McCusker continues, “We are looking for schools to share with us measurable evidence of how positive change has taken root. We want schools that can demonstrate the greatest level of innovation and determination to improve the quality of education in their schools through the use of Pathways to Excellence.”
Schools will be nominated through their Education Specialists and then guided through the application process. Awards will be announced in October 2018 and will go to the top five schools. All those that are nominated and enter will have significant recognition for the hard work they are putting in to improving the education quality of their schools.
Opportunity EdQ intends to have many Centres of Excellence across the programme - model schools within their local communities. The Awards will highlight some great examples of these Centres of Excellence, encouraging and motivating more schools to commence their own pathways to creating better schools and improved learning conditions and outcomes for their students.