We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of the schools we support and have launched a new flagship programme to improve education standards across our partner schools in Nepal and the Himalayan region of India.
Traditional teaching in the Himalayan valleys is based on rote learning which in effect involves children chanting together and sitting still while the teacher writes on a blackboard some text for the children to transpose in their “copybooks”. The teachers know no better methods as this is the way they were taught and many of them have had no formal teacher training whatsoever.
In the course of over a decade in which Mondo has been involved with schools in the Himalayan valleys, we have set up, resourced and provided teacher training workshops to all our partner schools. Through this, we have gradually introduced child-centric methods for teaching, in conjunction with the local teaching staff themselves, involving the children working in groups, showing initiative and becoming an active part of the learning process.
But this is not enough, as many factors lead to both a successful school and a quality education for students. We want our partner schools to strive for excellence in all aspects, ranging from how the school is managed, the involvement of parents, the development of the heads’ and teachers’ leadership skills, teamwork across the faculty, the breadth and depth of the curriculum, and the values and behaviour the children grow up with.
So, in the last year, we have introduced PIQUE – Programme for Improving the QUality of Education. This programme is based on the well proven system in use in the UK and elsewhere of self assessment by the Head and his colleagues across all aspects of the school. From this self assessment we encourage the school to prioritise areas of focus and to plan actions to improve in these key areas.
Our aspiration is that all our schools will fully adopt this approach and will cycle round the evaluation and action planning stages on at least an annual basis. We will support them through the process and in time introduce inspections and feedback so the schools can see how well they are doing and plan to improve further.
Already our schools do turn out pupils who excel at their next stage in other schools and higher education based on the grounding they have received. In time we want all our schools to be seen as at least good and more and more of them to be judged as outstanding.
PIQUE was piloted in the summer of 2016, with Ruth, one of our trustees and a UK headteacher, working with colleagues in India to introduce a sample evaluate-plan-review cycle. Further support on the ground was provided by Hirsh, another of our trustees, who spent time in India reinforcing and developing the programme in 2017, and also introducing a pilot programme in Nepal. We are now working to provide further support for our partner schools in implementing the methodology, part of which involves additional teacher training and assistance from qualified teachers volunteering on the ground to impart skills and knowledge.