Initiating change in classrooms: Pathways and challenges for East African schools

Anjum Halai, Ruth Otienoh, Zeenat Shariff, Naomi Swat

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This paper draws upon classroom-related findings from a set of impact case studies of whole school improvement in six primary schools that have been involved as “cooperating schools” in long-term school-university partnerships with the Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development (IED), and it’s Professional Development Centre in East Africa (PDC-EA). The IED approach for school improvement involves participating schools in multiple strands of professional development, including: a two-year masters degree programme that provides selected teachers with the pedagogical and leadership knowledge and skills to serve as Professional Development Teachers in their schools; Certificate in Education programmes (CEP) for teachers focused on enhancing subject matter content knowledge and methods (English, Maths, Science, Social Studies, Primary Education); and a certificate programme for head teachers designed to develop their capacity to manage and lead continuous school development in coordination with the teacher development inputs. School participation in the IED and PDC-EA programmes is expected to result in positive impact in four areas: teaching and learning methods; academic coordination and leadership; professional collaboration amongst teachers; and student learning outcomes. IED and PDC-EA inputs into cooperating schools are not delivered all at once. The schools typically involve a few teachers and/or administrators over a period of years in the various programs. Thus, in order to assess and understand the “impact” of this multi-pronged approach to school improvement, it was necessary to select and study schools that had been involved with IED and/or PDC-EA over a long term (5+ years) and that had supported teacher and administrator participation in a variety of the IED and PDC-EA training programmes. The case studies were conducted between August 2004 and March 2005 by a team of researchers from AKU-IED and PDCEA. Data sources included classroom observations, interviews with teacher leaders and teachers (trained and untrained), interviews with school administrators, collection of relevant documents (lesson plans, sample of students’ work, school development plan), collection and analysis of samples of student work and examination papers, and the collection and analysis of student academic results (e.g., in-school test outcomes) maintained by the school over the time frame studied.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2006


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