Decades of focused efforts on education in many low-income countries by governments, various aid agencies and NGOs, costing trillions of dollars, have been successful in providing more children with the opportunity to go to school – 75% more children in Sub-Saharan Africa are now in school compared to 1999. However, this is not enough to realise the power of education for development. In Sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 9 out of 10 children in school between the ages of 6 and 14 are not learning – they fail to reach minimum proficiency levels in reading and Mathematics.
Consider Uganda as an example.
96% children enrol in primary school, however, less than 1/3 of these children complete primary school, and of these only ½ achieve the required minimum standards in literacy and numeracy.
Yet, Education aid continues using the same “business as usual” strategies, such as such as teacher training workshops, infrastructure and instructional materials inputs, digital strategies, etc.. For example, the case of Uganda – in the last 12 years, well over US$1 billion in education aid funding has been spent by large bilateral donors on big education improvement projects, most of it involving teacher training, and other ‘business-as-usual’ aid approaches, quite probably another billion or more by the trilaterals, smaller donors, foundations and NGOs. Yet, children are still not learning.
More recently, the focus has moved more to teachers, in light of research that definitively proves that THE key ingredient to improving learning are teachers. However, again, this focus is continuing to use “business as usual” strategies. As Albert Einstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
This inspired the setting up of Power Teachers Africa, to develop, refine and share sustainable, and not “business as usual”, approaches and strategies that work for teachers in poorly resourced schools to bring about learning.
The overarching foundational question of Power Teachers Africa is: How can we effectively and efficiently support teachers within government systems to improve learning within their ‘classroots’ realities?