Global Education & Skills Forum: Guest Post


*Written for and originally posted to the Global Education & Skills Forum Blog

As humanity continues to digest the astonishing numbers presented by UNESCO’s recently released 2013/4 Education for All Report—over 57 million children do not have access to primary school worldwide and 250 million in-school children are not learning—one takeaway is quite clear: access and quality must be considered one in the same.

When we at Building Tomorrow first started constructing schools in Uganda seven years ago, quality wasn’t an immediate area of emphasis for us. We wanted every student inside a Building Tomorrow classroom to excel in their studies, but we’d done little to understand the fundamental challenges faced inside rural classrooms.

That realization didn’t take long.

In short order, the need to marry our community-based school construction model with an emphasis on in-class quality became apparent. Quality is hard to achieve when UWEZO reports less than 60% of primary teachers are not qualified for their roles. It certainly helps to explain why only 11% of Ugandan students in the third year of primary school can comprehend an English story written at a second year level.

Today, we’re leveraging what we’ve learned through countless meetings at the grassroots level to find ways to not only provide adequate, safe and permanent learning environments for out of school children, but to also invest in the human capital we feel it will take to ensure rural children have just as much opportunity for success as their urban counterparts.

First, Building Tomorrow has partnered with the VarkeyGEMS Foundation’s teacher training program, providing our teachers with access to what they’ve coined a ‘game-changing’ curriculum covering everything from innovative lesson delivery to curriculum planning.

Complementary to this partnership, we are launching the Building Tomorrow Fellows program, an initiative aimed at providing opportunities for the large number of unemployed Ugandan collegiate graduates to work towards improving the quality of education in rural schools.

Individuals selected for the program spend two years as Fellows, first going through intensive trainings that will equip them to achieve three main objectives at up to three schools: establishing effective systems of school governance, strengthening in-class programming, and monitoring and evaluating progress. Young, highly motivated and committed, Fellows become allies working alongside their respective schools in supporting the goal of graduating literate and numerate primary school students.

Central to Building Tomorrow’s work is the belief that true social change can only happen when state supported schooling systems provide all students with access to a high quality education. And while we continue to join our communities in the construction of well-built, low-cost schools, we’ve unearthed an equally unwavering commitment to ensure quality is just as much a part of the equation.


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