Dignitas began its work to improve education outcomes in one of the most impoverished communities in Kenya. The main objective of this project is to develop instructional competencies for reading among teachers in Mathare so as to ensure that all children acquire the foundational skills required for academic success. In order to substantively address the sub-standard quality of education borne of classrooms lacking basic learning materials, untrained teachers and school leaders, and disconnected stakeholders, this project was established to address these challenges. By providing teacher training, leadership development to various education stakeholders, and infrastructural support, Dignitas Project's main commitment is to transform communities through education and opportunity.
The approach used to implement the activities is as follows:
- Train teachers to use teaching methodologies to build student literacy skills,
- Support skills development by coaching teachers in classrooms,
- Provide Kiswahili and English storybooks so that teachers can champion a strong reading culture,
- Guide teachers in basic library circulation and book preservation skills,
- Facilitate reading competitions and other learning activities among schools,
- Organize workshops to help parents support their child's love of reading and learning.
Using a rubric (guideline) specifically developed for the community context in which it operates as an assessment and learning tool with school partners to improve education quality, school teams learn how to develop action plans to address persistent school challenges. Following this training experience, teachers, school leaders, and parents are provided individualized coaching and continuous feedback for two school terms in order to reinforce practices that lead to long-term growth and sustained impact.
The Leadership Institute (LI) recruits head teachers, teachers, and Board of Management as teams for long-term commitment to improving education. Involving these groups is crucial to driving change at all levels of leadership. LI involves a three-year partnership, during which schools participate in four activities: an intensive three-week Leadership Training Institute, school-based one-on-one coaching, holistic professional development, and infrastructure support.
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CEI approaches in action
Monitoring & Evaluation
Dignitas uses an integrated Learning and Evaluation system to determine the impact of interventions, document pathways to successful engagement, provide individualized progress and achievement reports to schools, and continually improve program strategies and content. There are four components to this system.
First, Dignitas uses a school rubric that is carefully calibrated to the partner schools’ context and resources to assess whether each school has reached proficiency in the areas of Systems and Operations, Culture and Climate, Instruction and Pedagogy, School Support, and Stakeholder Engagement. Dignitas uses surveys, interviews, and observation to evaluate each partner school annually, and provides detailed feedback for schools to consider during strategic planning and when setting school priorities.
In addition, Dignitas conducts twice-annual student assessments. The student assessments consist of math and English exams, which are administered using random sampling in both treatment (partner) schools and control (non-partnered) schools. The exams test core competencies, and results can illuminate both the degree to which Dignitas’ interventions may improve student learning and identify which skills and concepts remain challenging for students at each school.
For the final two components, Dignitas uses a combination of detailed case studies and lastly, regular data collection to better understand school dynamics. The periodic data collection includes information about school enrollment, teacher turnover, resources available, and academic performance. The case studies will take in-depth accounts of particularly successful schools, teachers, or administrators to document and learn from their steps to success.