Sri Lankan - German Development Cooperation

Performance Improvement Project (PIP)
for development actors in the North and East of Sri Lanka

Managing Change in Education
A concept paper for the Chief Secretary, Northern Province

The Performance Improvement Project works with the Public Administration of the North and East of Sri Lanka and is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the British Government’s Department for International Development (DFID)

Ministry of Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development

Forward
This paper was commissioned by the Chief Secretary, Northern Province, one of the key partners of the GTZ supported Performance Improvement Project (PIP). It was written as a response to his request for a strategy paper on cohesion and change management with specific reference to effective disbursement of donor funds for education projects in the Northern Province. Putting together such a document serves to carry out PIP’s mandate to strengthen the capacity of the Chief Secretary’s Office in coordination, planning and management, so that intermediary departments - in this case the Provincial Ministry of Education, Northern Province - deliver improved services to the community. Similar strategy papers and strategy workshops have been commissioned from GTZ PIP by the Chief Secretaries in the past – for tsunami recovery, institutional and organisational analyses, as commissioned by the former Chief Secretary, North East Provincial Council; for staff appraisal as commissioned by the Chief Secretary, Eastern Province and for improving budget formulation as commissioned by the Chief Secretaries, Northern and Eastern Provinces. It is not the intention of the GTZ supported Performance Improvement Project to hereafter get involved in education reform for the Northern Province, but to continue to support the Chief Secretary’s Office in on-going issues of coordination, planning and management.

"In some cases the education sector has contributed to the problem of skills shortage (an important aspect of capacity deficit) by producing graduates with non-marketable skills, or too few graduates with the right skills." Making Government Work for the Poor – Building State Capability, Strategy Paper, London, DFID Information Department, 2001

Contents

List of abbreviations

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1. Introduction

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2. Coherence

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3. Managing change in education

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4. Exams

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5. Curriculum standards

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6. Textbooks

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7. Capacity building

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8. Quality assurance

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9. Summary of recommendations

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10. Next steps

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List of abbreviations
AusAID CfBT DfEE DfID FCE GTZ HRD ISA ISMEQuE INSET JICA KET MDTD NIE PET PIP PISET PRESET RESC TELT UCLES UNICEF USAID ZDE Australian Agency for International Development Centre for British Teachers Department for Education and Employment (British Government) Department for International Development (British Government) First Certificate English German Technical Cooperation Human Resource Development In-Service Advisor Improving School Management to Enhance Quality Education In-Service Teacher Education Japanese International Cooperation Agency Key English Test Management Development Training Department, Trincomalee National Institute of Education Preliminary English Test Performance Improvement Project Provincial In-service Secondary Education and Training project Pre-Service Teacher Education Regional English Support Centres Training for English Language Teaching Communities Project University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate United Nations International Emergency Fund United States Agency for International Development Zonal Director of Education

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1. Introduction
1.1 Background The primary and secondary school system is failing the majority of secondary school leavers in most of Sri Lanka’s schools outside the main urban centres – failing to provide them with the necessary skills to become productive and effective members of a changing society. Year after year the vast majority of students fail their exams while a tiny minority of best students learn how to be successful in school, not how to be successful in life. The best are measured in terms of school behaviour, passing exams, being good at ‘schooling’. They don’t learn life skills, job skills, communication skills, critical thinking. Many do not graduate as initiative-taking, responsible individuals who can be relied on to solve problems or complete tasks independently with some sense of quality. Less than 2% get into university. For many others, going to school is just counting the days till unemployment. Sri Lanka is a country without curriculum standards expressed in ‘can do’ statements. It does not measure success at school by competency in useful skills. Attendance is the main criteria for achievement. Attendance at the ‘right’ school is the main criteria for excellence. Quality is assured by teachers ‘covering’ a certain number of pages in a textbook and students memorising the limited information on those pages. As a result real life skills are on the decline. Literacy and numeracy rates are falling. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world which is unable to sustain its almost 100% literacy rate of former decades. Traditional skills and values are being lost but new skills in the new technologies are not taking their place. There is a general malaise in the education system in Sri Lanka, a malaise which has not occurred overnight but which has been systematically eroding best practice for more than forty years – eroding educational standards, expectations, resources and values. It is the result of mismanagement by • a nation that is not yet prepared to put its money where its mouth is – to finance large scale educational reform because it lies at the heart of any economic, social or political improvement for Sri Lanka; • a handful of so-called curriculum experts who have failed to be influenced by current education research or innovation in the world around them, and have failed to consult the captains of industry, the changing technological world, or those who understand the real requirements of producing an educated work force; • higher education specialists who set standards, train teachers, advise on exams and curricula who are out of touch with the realities and real needs of primary and secondary school students and teachers; • officials who think they know all about education simply because they have had a privileged one themselves, in an English medium school in Colombo or Kandy or Jaffna; • politicians who do not get involved with something they will never get the credit for because they realise educational reform takes 10 to 12 years to show a difference - a time scale beyond their term of office; • parents who do not have the education themselves to challenge the inadequacies of the system; • overworked, underpaid and often under qualified school administrators and teachers.

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Ethnic identity and conflict have had two lasting effects on the Sri Lankan education system. On the one hand, education has become more nationalistic, less inclusive, stressing the language and values of the ethnic majority. This results in tighter controls on national textbooks and the dissemination of resources. On the other hand education has failed to evolve. There is almost no change when we compare textbooks and curricula from the 1980’s with the current ones. In some cases the 1980’s books are better than the ones today. There has been virtually no change in the way teachers are trained, exams are compiled, lessons are planned, achievements are recorded. At the same time standards have slipped. The cascade has thinned out, teacher trainers and curriculum writers have fewer skills today than they did in the past because they in turn are the products of a quietly deteriorating system. Meanwhile the rest of the world has moved on. If we observe educational reform in other developing and newly industrialised countries (Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Qatar), even industrial countries whose needs have changed (Britain, France), we see countries who have gone for far-reaching, and on the whole, de-politicised, educational reform in order to meet the growing or evolving demands of industry, the economy and multi culturalism. These reforms include: privatising textbook production - purchasing textbooks from professional writers and private publishing houses instead of relying on the idiosyncrasies, inefficiencies and ‘control’ of government publishing houses incorporating language corpus data in first and second language teaching to focus on high frequency structures and vocabulary incorporating critical thinking skills through maths, science and mother tongue literacy teaching from early primary onwards expressing learning and teaching in terms of competencies and ‘can do’ statements establishing curriculum and textbook standards which are transparent and accountable to parents and students as well as school inspectors and examiners scientifically testing the validity and reliability of test items on national exams using criterion referenced assessment instead of norm referencing to measure achievement including a much higher percentage of informal (school based/project based), ongoing assessment to compliment assessment by traditional exams incorporating participatory, learner centred, task based approaches to teaching and learning. If these innovations have not happened in Sri Lanka as a whole, they have happened even less in the Northern Province, where open conflict, natural disaster, acute lack of access, resources and teachers, and a resulting brain drain, erode the system still further. [It is important to note that ‘incorporating information technology and computer assisted learning’ does not appear on the above list, nor indeed in the rest of the report. In this report, IT in schools in the Northern Province is seen as a divisive; a way of spending donor money while avoiding the ‘bigger’ issues listed above. Until schools have electricity and dust-free air conditioned computer rooms, until school directors are prepared to find and employ qualified IT personnel who can maintain equipment and systems, until the North has internet connectivity, until relevant school software has been developed as learning packages, until school budgets include broadband payments and virus protection software, and until teachers receive training – across the curriculum – in how to incorporate IT into teaching their subjects, there is little point pursuing the IT agenda.]

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1. 2 Purpose of this strategy paper What must the Provincial Ministry of Education do to convince a wider range of school stake-holders – school principles, supervisors, exam writers, department heads, teachers, curriculum writers, examiners, parents and the children themselves – of the need to reform teaching and learning in the Northern Province? This paper sets out to list some of the changes that should be made in order to improve educational system in terms of content and process, with special reference to the Northern Province. It • suggests ways of managing and implementing change – change in curriculum, textbooks, classrooms, exams, school inspections and school-leavers’ heads • challenges the thinking behind what policy makers and school authorities do with primary and secondary education in Sri Lanka • explores strategies for involving school stake-holders and making them more supportive of educational change • looks strategically at where change can begin • shows how, by understanding the bigger picture, education reformists can find a place to start • suggests ways donor money can be spent on individual reform components that add up to a larger and more systematic reform programme.

1.3 Sources The principles, best practices and lessons learnt in this paper are derived from • The Department for Education and Employment’s literacy and numeracy reform in primary education in Britain, (John Stannard, Director of the National Literacy Strategy and Anita Straeker, Director of the National Numeracy Strategy) 1996 – 2002 • The development of national competency and performance curriculum standards for Qatar in Maths, Science, English and Arabic, Grades 1 – 13 according to a competency based approach (The Supreme Education Council supported by RAND and CfBT), 2003 – 2006 • The British – Vietnamese Government’s development of provincial-based teacher training systems and national exams for grade 6 – 9 English in 22 provinces of Vietnam (Psyche Kennett, DFID/CfBT), 1997 – 2003 • The UK’s Department for International Development support for educational reform in primary Maths and primary and secondary English in Sri Lanka (British Council and Cambridge Consultants), 1994 - 2002 • The USAID/UNICEF funded English Language Teaching Communities Project (TELT) in Jaffna and Trincomalee, (Amy Hamlyn, British Council), 2004 - 2005.

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Descriptions of education reform theory and practice can be followed up in • Earl, L, Katz, S and Watson, N (2003) Large - Scale Reform: Life Cycles and Implications for Sustainability, CfBT • Elmore, R. F. (1996) Getting to scale with good educational practice Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 1-26 • Fullan, M. (2001) The new meaning of educational change (3rd edition) New York: Teachers College Press • Fullan, M et al (2003) Watching & Learning 3, Final Report of the External Evaluation of England's National Literacy and National Numeracy Strategies, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto • Hall, G., & Hord, S. (2001) Implementing change: Patterns, principles, and potholes, London: Allyn & Bacon • Togneri, W., & Anderson, S. (2003) Beyond islands of excellence. Washington, DC: The Learning First Alliance • Watson, N (2003) English Language Teacher Training Project (ELTTP) Vietnam, Report of Evaluation Consultancy CfBT (Research and Development Committee)

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2. Coherence
2.1 Coherence and sustainable educational reform Coherence means promoting the same methodological message across curricula, materials, school levels, subjects and institutions so that it can be reinforced efficiently and so change can happen in a sustainable way. Most government systems and ministries of education, including those in the US and the UK, lack coherence, because different systems grow organically, idiosyncratically, and all the while new policy is adopted without throwing out old. The history of educational change and reform is replete with examples of innovations that had an impressive impact on teaching and learning. Such innovations generate enthusiasm and effort, but once the project ends, so does the innovation. When changes are associated with a specific project, they rarely survive changes in staff or administrative arrangements. The challenge is to embed the changes – to build them into the education system. Instead of being 'one more thing' the innovation becomes 'the way we do things here in the Northern Province’. Only then do new procedures and behaviours become the norm. Only then are changes likely to be sustained. Building change into the system in this way is not easy. Several aspects of the educational system need to be changed to give a coherent message about what is expected. There is little point in changing teaching methods or textbooks if students or teachers continue to be judged by old-style examinations. If the examinations are not aligned with the new approaches, teachers would be well advised to continue their old methods if these are successful in preparing students for the kind of examination used. In other words, policies and practices need to be aligned in such a way that curriculum, assessment and even teacher education are based on similar principles about teaching and learning. Working at project level, it is possible to achieve internal coherence, but coherence has to go beyond project outputs to include the sustaining authorities and the institutions that also influence what goes on in the classroom. Typically this means that although projects are usually the ‘baby’ of one department in the central or provincial ministry of education, they must establish institutional links with many others.

2.1 Curricula coherence: reforming curricula, exams and textbooks In the past many of Sri Lanka’s educational reforms have centred either on infrastructure school buildings, furniture and equipment, science labs, supply of textbooks, sports facilities - or on pre-service or in-service teacher training – usually within a single subject area like English or Maths. This is because most educational reform in the past three decades has depended on foreign funding. From the Sri Lankan side, foreign technical interventions in school infrastructure and teacher training are non-threatening. From the donor’s side, the emphasis, until recently, has been on resource centres and classroom methodology. However, educational reform has to cover content as well as process. School facilities and teacher training are only half the picture - they are the ‘process’ of education. Education

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reform must also include curricula, textbook and examination reform – they are the ‘content’ of education. It is quite usual for a host government to allow a donor to help implement a new teacher training system, but it is unusual for a host government to invite outsiders to re-write the textbooks, the curriculum or the exam. Usually curricula, textbooks and exams come under the purview of a politically selected few – an elite who control the futures of millions of children. They dictate what children will learn and what they will not, how they will name the world around them, how they will integrate or not integrate with children from other ethnic communities, how they will think, analyse, solve problems for themselves. In short, curriculum writers and examiners determine how future generations will be equipped or at a loss to deal with the needs of their rapidly changing environment. Reforming education content is a major task which usually requires strong political will because it involves upheaval and a challenging of the old ways. Tony Blair’s strategies for primary education in Britain and the Emir of Qatar’s alternative school system and curriculum were both massive undertakings, in terms of money, time and labour, and in both cases they needed the backing of the nation’s parents, to succeed. In Britain, students got a new literacy and numeracy curriculum and a dedicated extra hour for each per day. In Qatar, new, secularised curricula for Maths, Science, Arabic and English were introduced from Kindergarten through to Grade 12 (their last year of high school) and parents were queuing up to get their children out of the old Ministry schools and registered in the new Emir-supported system. Without such political will from the centre, it is hard for any provincial ministry to reform the content of the curriculum or textbook or exam. Creating an alternative or parallel system and allowing parents to choose, as the Emir of Qatar did, is unfortunately not an option. However, if you take the emphasis off the system itself and look instead at intended outputs from that system – educated and able school leavers with enhanced job prospects – then some parallels exist. Instead of creating an alternative syllabus or textbooks, it is possible to strengthen alternatives that already exist – Sri Lanka’s private tutories, for example. Strengthening public-private links in education and working towards public-private coherence can be achieved through teachers who work in both systems, through engaging the business community and the private schools themselves to offer scholarships, to work with commercial publishing houses to create affordable new books that supplement the existing ones, and to seek sponsors for higher education and research from industry. 2.2 Methodological Coherence Methodological coherence involves promoting the same approaches from primary school through to upper secondary school, and even beyond, to tertiary level. More often than not participatory approaches are introduced and employed at primary level because at primary level the method is clearly the message – process is content. Many primary educationalists agree that learning processes such as how to communicate, express themselves, participate, work in groups, share, respect others, socialise, be part of a team and a community, problem solve, complete tasks, etc. are the real aim of primary education and along the way children also get a firm grounding in the content – mastering basic literacy and numeracy.

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However, as soon as the child enters secondary education all this is lost and secondary school methodology is based on traditional lecture style, content-heavy lessons that are teacher centred and all ‘chalk and talk’. There is no methodological coherence between primary and secondary because of this swap from process to content. That it is why, in traditional systems, it is very dangerous to ask university experts to advise on primary education – they themselves are lecturers, content specialists, used to teaching adults. They are not process-oriented teachers of small children, and as such know nothing about the pragmatics of participatory, task based, child-centred methodology. As well as striving for methodological cohesion in a vertical sense – primary to secondary to tertiary – it is also important to consider methodological cohesion in a horizontal sense. This means if a learner centred approach is to be adopted, then techniques such as ‘guided discovery’ should not only be found when teaching science but also when teaching literacy or dance. Likewise ‘self access’ should not be restricted to content-heavy subjects like history or literature but should also be encouraged for maths and biology. Finally, as well as vertical and horizontal cohesion, methodology should also be considered in terms of a ‘looped’ cohesion. When there is coherence between content and process, the medium mirrors the message and a ‘positive loop’ is formed. What the teacher says is reinforced by what the teacher does; the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ become interlinked to strengthen learning and teaching. If, in a teacher training college a lecturer gets up and gives a lecture on ‘The Advantages of Group work’ there is no process-content cohesion because the message is group work but the medium is lecture. If, however, a teacher educator in a teacher training college puts the participants in five groups, gives each group a different reading text on ‘The Advantages of Group work’, has them read and discuss the main points, then mixes them up by putting them into new groups where each member represents his/her former group and has them teach each other what they have just read, then there is strong processcontent cohesion: the message is group work and the process uses group work as the medium of delivery – process and content have been ‘looped’.

2.3 Institutional coherence Teacher training initiatives in Sri Lanka in the past have often failed because of a lack of institutional coherence. Change is initiated, for example, at pre-service level and not at inservice level or vice versa; the Regional English Support Centres (RESCs) are involved in methodological change for teaching English but In-service Advisors (ISAs) are not; teachers are selected and trained as trainers for their subject but when a new donor-funded initiative is introduced other untrained teachers are selected to become trainers. In many education systems in Asia which depend on foreign interventions, dependency brings with it reactive rather than pro-active behaviour. Often, there is no master plan, no capacity development scheme whereby ‘master trainers’ or ISA’s have their skill systematically improved and utilised. Instead there is a kind of ‘turn taking’ and spreading of inputs in order to give everyone an equal chance. This results in bits and pieces that don’t add up to anything; there is no ‘use of outputs’.

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One way of strengthening institutional coherence is to have an HRD database where teachers, trainers and administrators’ competencies can be recorded and updated. Teacher education projects should be made to state, using coherent standards laid down by the Provincial Ministry, what was achieved, in terms of job competencies. These competencies can then be aligned with or added to fields in the database. Likewise the competencies in the database can start driving up standards for classroom supervision and performance appraisal. New projects coming in can then draw on the database to identify key trainers or materials writers with the right competencies. Another way of strengthening institutional coherence is to provide guidelines to projects so that they coordinate the system for grouping schools and designating key schools at district level. This involves formalising and mapping ‘lead’ schools by district such as the (World Bank funded) Lighthouse schools, (DFID funded) RESC schools, and UNICEF supported school clusters, for greater sustainability. The same goes for disseminating past project reports to new projects – to avoid duplication and, as mentioned above, to exploit and sustain already developed capacity, tools, and lessons learnt. The Czech NGO PIN recently engaged in an English language improvement project for volunteer English teachers in Trincomalee town, duplicating similar inputs by the Trincomalee RESC and the British Council TELT project but without building on lessons learnt. For similar reasons it would be useful if the JICA Improving School Management to Enhance Quality of Education project, ISMEQuE read the two external evaluations written up on the TELT project (Psyche Kennett 2005; Jill Knight 2006) before involving English in its plans. With the de-merger of the North East Provincial Council, coherence amongst donor funded education projects and building on lessons learnt from previous projects is particularly important for the Northern Provincial Council so that institutional memory in the Northern Provincial Ministry of Education is maintained from the start.

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3. Managing change in education
3.1 Change management Change management in education utilises a simple set of strategies, based on past experience, that make it possible to implement and sustain reforms. The key factors of change management in education are 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Applying both pressure and support Working from top down and bottom up at the same time Establishing trust and winning support through professional credibility Accumulating a 'Critical Mass' of change agents to change institutions from within Effecting behavioural change in the way people work Starting small and working towards incremental change or ‘the snowball effect’ Implementing realistic changes Allowing time to assimilate change Establishing and maintaining cross-institutional links

3.2 Pressure and support Education reform requires a balance of pressure and support - pressure to force teachers to change, support to encourage them to change (Watson 2003). Pressure is usually considered a bad thing and support, a good thing, but in education reform there is often a positive role for both. The NIE and the Ministry of Education tend to maintain the status quo (despite interventions); when change does occur, it is because pressure builds up and leads people to act. Sometimes it is difficult to separate pressure and support; indeed the possibility of change is increased when the two are combined. In practical terms, clear policy and a certain element of prescriptivism – stating the changes required - can provide the necessary ‘pressure’ and ‘support’. There is nothing more stressful for a semi skilled teaching force to be told to make changes without being told how to make them. For example, in Qatar, the introduction of the new literacy curriculum standards for teaching Arabic were highly threatening to the majority of teachers who didn't understand literacy teaching and didn’t have the methodology to turn the standards into real lessons. This was pressure without support. But once an accompanying scheme of work and a series of model lesson plans were provided by the Supreme Education Council, the Arabic language teachers felt much more supported and were then able to transfer the new curriculum standards into resources, lesson plans and lessons. Likewise reflective approaches to teacher education can lack the pressure element and fail just as prescriptive approaches can lack the support element and fail. In an AusAID tertiary science and technology teacher training project in Vietnam, out of a group of 50 in-service college teachers who designed small scale classroom research projects, only one teacher actually carried out the research because implementation was voluntary and unsupervised in the trainee’s own institute. The research project was designed as a task to support trainees’ professional development without putting them under any pressure. If, however, the research project report had been required as part of the formal final

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assessment, all the trainees would have completed it, and would have benefited more from having done so.

3.3 Top down and bottom up The most effective change occurs in the system when change is pushed and supported from senior management level down through the system and from parent/ student/teacher level up through the system. Pressure and support is therefore applied ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’. Traditional education systems are usually hierarchical and top-down only. Directives are sent from management to the ‘chalk face’. But when reform is also motivated from the grass-roots level and passes up through the system, then things really begin to change. Ultimately, top-down/bottom-up approaches act like a pair of pincers on the middle management – who are usually the group most impervious to change. Top managers have vision for change; chalk-face practitioners have the skills to implement change; middle managers are the administrators and bureaucrats who sit in the middle and wish to maintain the status quo. Pressure from the top and the bottom helps to squeeze these middle managers into action. For example, the Provincial Ministry could introduce a new set of curriculum standards and resources for mother tongue Tamil language classes, incorporating critical thinking skills and literacy skills. A directive would be sent to implement the change. ZDE’s, ISAs and school principals would probably remain unconvinced. Teachers and ISAs would receive training in how to teach the new standards for Tamil, using a more communicative, task based, learner centred methodology. Training would be paid for by a donor funded project. As training went on, teachers would become enthusiastic about the new Tamil classes because they would be more interesting to deliver and they could see better results from the students. Students would enjoy classes more, attendance rates would go up and a ‘buzz’ of popularity would start to surround the new approach to teaching and learning Tamil. ZDEs, ISAs and school principals would be required to monitor the progress of the new Tamil curriculum, as directed by the Provincial Ministry, who would require them to conduct classroom visits on a regular basis. During these visits school principals would begin to see for themselves the change taking place in the way students participated in class and the improved fluency and accuracy in the written work they produced. The more involved the school principals became, the more enthusiastic they would get about the change taking place – at least in theory! Top-down donor funded projects, such as the GTZ supported Performance Improvement Project, tend to put the emphasis on building organisational capacity through management - in Northern Province education terms this would translate as strengthening the capacity of the Provincial Ministry of Education and the ZDEs, and relying on them to organise and get messages through to school principals. On the other hand, evidence from research suggests the value of a focus on the school, with greater involvement of a 'critical mass' of principals and greater focus on school teams to provide support and help shift school culture, early on in a project (e.g. Togneri & Anderson, 2003). It doesn't make sense to send a changed individual back into an unchanged environment. The emphasis then, is on the whole school as the ‘bottom up’ unit of change, not the individual teacher, as was the case in many donor funded teacher training projects in the past.

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Increasing the focus on the school would mean connecting directly with more school principals, as well as working with teachers in school teams on the same cascade, with at least two teachers trained together from each school at any one time. Pulling out more than one teacher from a department at any one time will never be popular with school principals, but once they become convinced of the efficiency and longer term sustainability of mutually supporting pairs of teachers, they may be persuaded. The top-down/bottom–up approach to change means neither end of the hierarchy should feel excluded. On the contrary, they should be persuaded on professional grounds to ‘buy in’ to change, and feel ownership for it.

3.4 Establishing trust through credibility Persuasion is only possible if an element of trust has been established, and that trust is built on professional credibility, flexibility, the ability to utilise best practice and lesson learnt from previous interventions, good communications, transparency and reliability. The drivers of change might be technical experts in a donor funded project, or the central ministry, or commercial education providers putting pressure on the system from outside. Their professional credibility comes from their ability to be flexible, develop reforms along a process model which in-builds revision to the reform strategy as a matter of course. It also comes from their ability to utilise effective custom-built solutions, at the same time paying heed to best practices and lessons learnt from previous initiatives. To make this happen, a taxonomy of best practices and lessons learnt needs to be recorded, published and held within the institutional memory. Establishing professional credibility is very difficult in a public service culture where everyone is a generalist and everyone may be moved on to another department at a moment’s notice. It is further complicated by the fact that many of the ‘lessons learnt’, which should feed into institutional memory, are lost once the project ends. A great deal of time is wasted reinventing the wheel, making the same mistakes, failing to build on what went before or utilise those who were trained before. Therefore good reporting and good communications are very much at the heart of change management. Initiatives need to be explained and reported on a regular basis – not only to the senior management but also to the school directors and the parents. Results need to be published and stamina and consistency are required to do this on a regular basis. As with most educational reform, things start small and grow incrementally. Very often at the point where stakeholders have lost interest, the initiative begins to show results. Good reporting and PR can cover this delay, anticipate scepticism in the long wait for results and bolster motivation and commitment until the project starts ‘delivering the goods’. In addition, good communications and regular reporting provide stakeholders with transparency and persuade them of reliability – and these points of good governance need to be established with pupils, parents and principals just as much as with ZDEs and the Provincial Ministry staff.

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3.5 Winning support 3.5.1 Engendering ‘can do’ mentality There is a strong correlation between skills, confidence and implementing change. Change requires a ‘can do’ mentality. ‘Can do’ mentality comes from confidence and confidence from ability. It is only untrained, inexperienced teachers who say ‘We’re not allowed to supplement the textbook. The Ministry won’t let us.’ Once they know how to supplement the textbook effectively with well designed lesson plans and materials taken from other sources – and still achieve the curriculum objectives – teachers stop saying they ‘aren’t allowed’ to do it. Confidence, skill and attitude to innovation influence behaviour in senior management too. ‘I can’t do it therefore it can’t be done.’ ‘I don’t know about it therefore it doesn’t exist.’ ‘It was never done like that before therefore it cannot be done like that now.’ These are common reservations that permeate government institution resistance to change. To counter reservations and win support, it is necessary to build the confidence and skills of the biggest detractors of change, in a ‘protected’ environment. This means capacity is developed in a non threatening way with little or no possibility of failure. One way of doing this is to persuade senior managers (ZDEs) and supervisors (ISAs) – those with a lot to loose – to take on new skills. In Vietnam, on the English Language Teacher Training Project, the equivalent of the ISAs plus some senior methodology lecturers from Hanoi University were all persuaded to go back into the classroom, learn the new methodology and teach grade 6 students while the Grade 6 teachers observed them. This initiative reversed all the roles – those who normally sat at the back and criticised now had to stand at the front and teach. Those who normally taught were allowed to sit at the back and criticise for a change. For many of the older and more senior supervisors and lecturers this was a high-stakes exercise – there was a lot to loose. But they were coached and supported so that they couldn’t fail in the classroom in front of their peers and juniors. In addition, their peers and juniors were trained to give constructive, non judgemental feedback – not something any of them had experienced before. For many of them it was a seminal experience. They realised, perhaps for the first time, how easy it is to sit at the back and demand change, how hard it is to get up to the front and do it. They learned new respect for the practitioners at the chalk face. They also became convinced by the methodology because they experienced, first hand, how well the Grade 6 students responded to it. For them the experience was empowering and created for the project a new group of quite powerful change agents. With this success came their support. 3.5.2 The power of inclusion In education there are so many stakeholders that it is quite easy to overlook some of them. But exclusion from the change process is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in change management. Exclusion is threatening, inclusion empowering. In Thailand, DFID’s Provincial In-service Secondary Education and Training (PISET) project neglected the regional supervisors in favour of the master teachers and designated in-service teacher trainers. This second group of practitioners became greatly empowered with new skills and new roles and responsibilities. The regional supervisors, too proud to be ‘re-trained’ ultimately lost out as the in-service trainers and master teachers grew in stature and showed themselves to be more proficient. Thailand has an extremely hierarchical culture

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of management, just like Sri Lanka, and there was a great deal of ‘loss of face’ which could have been avoided if the project ‘experts’ had been more flexible, experienced and had had the credibility to persuade the regional supervisors to join in. In three educational zones in Jaffna District, on the other hand, ISAs were included as master trainers on the USAID/UNICEF/ British Council TELT project and as a result the mentoring procedures which evolved from the project are now used in some zones as the official approach for ISAs. While participating in the training two of the ISAs were persuaded to delegate some of their school follow-up visits to their fellow course participants - experienced teachers and trainers - who they recognised as peers. To achieve this delegation of duties – which made the follow-up more systematic and therefore more sustainable - it was important for the ISAs not to feel threatened or usurped but rather to feel supported and professionally affirmed. School principals are the other group of stakeholders who must be won over, and for many of them in the Northern Province, there is a lot to be learnt in terms of educational concepts. Due to the conflict situation in the Northern Province, school directors have become de-skilled and many function as little more than administrators. Although there are many striking exceptions, chronic under budgeting and understaffing have made some lose their vision for the school, lose there will to make a difference. Training in setting new educational standards, pride of place and quality assurance would greatly empower them and give them the confidence to stop being doorkeepers and start being leaders. 3.5.3 Anticipating stakeholder’s objections One of the best ways of winning support and gaining professional credibility is for those involved in managing change to anticipate, classify and deal with the objections that will arise from parents, teachers, principals, supervisors, directors, curriculum and textbook writers, examiners, the press. Classifying these objections can usually be done under the following headings - time, money, access, ability, school culture, purpose and politics. Counteracting stakeholder objections and at the same time demonstrating flexibility and a willingness to deal with real problems has a powerfully winning effect. Psychologically, many stakeholders are simply flattered that you have taken the time to anticipate their problems and look for appropriate solutions. They are impressed by the fact that your experience has put you on their wavelength. A shortlist of real objections will always remain and these will need time and effort, negotiation, compromise and thinking ‘out of the box’ to resolve. But the majority of objections will stem from the ‘can’t do’ mentality; a feeling of being threatened or excluded. As stated above, the way forward is to build stakeholder confidence, empower them with new skills, inform them and keep them informed, ‘on board’ and very much included as a beneficiary of change.

3.6 Critical mass There is little point returning a changed individual to an unchanged environment. It is important to accumulate a ‘critical mass’ of change agents to change institutions from within. What number constitutes this ‘critical mass’ is determined by the situation and the magnitude of the reform. But at a certain point when enough ‘changed’ individuals are in

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place, momentum begins to gather – new messages and ways of working begin to become the norm. Whereas in the past the changed individual was in the minority and could be put under pressure not to ‘rock the boat’, now the changed individuals are in the majority and can put the unchanged individuals under pressure to join them. A powerful group in this regard are the students themselves. They constitute the ultimate ‘bottom up’ force for change. One good teacher can raise the expectations of the 250 plus students s/he teaches just by showing them what good teaching and learning can be. No wonder the rest of the department fear ‘changed individuals’ – they create new expectations from the clients – the students – and this puts them under pressure to change too. Another powerful group, as mentioned in 7.5.2 above, are the school principals. A critical mass of school principals can put pressure for change on the system both upwards to the ZDEs and downwards to the teachers, students and pupils. The accumulation of this 'critical mass' of change agents is slow because like drops of rain, change agents take time to gather in different places, spread, join up, form a pool. Once however a certain momentum is created, things begin to move more quickly. It becomes easier to convince others so the size of the movement and speed at which it moves is incremental. It starts to have a snowball effect. This is the point education reform projects should aim for. They need to plan for, and persuade stakeholders to buy into, a slow startup time, usually for a pilot phase. They need to predict what numbers and amongst which stakeholder groups change agents will join up to create the critical mass. They then need to have the resources in place to accommodate an expansion phase. They also need to anticipate unexpected impact and spread that might, for example, be horizontal (i.e. across the curriculum) when vertical spread (i.e. from lower to upper secondary) was originally envisaged and planned for. Likewise the Chief Secretary’s Office and the Provincial Ministry of Education need to examine project proposals with a view to change management, change agents and the accumulation of a critical mass. If the right elements for this evolutionary process are not sufficiently in-built in the project design, or the individual project cannot be slotted as a discrete component into a more integrated master plan that takes the issues of change management into account, then it can be said that the proposed project is not sustainable.

3.7 Behavioural change It is also useful to remember that, when implementing a capacity development initiative which seeks to effect a behavioural change in the way teachers work, both time and intensity are needed. 120 hours full time, participatory, task based study is a good unit of change in this regard. Any less time spent, or the same amount of time spent distributed over the period of an academic school year, for example, will not produce the same results. Sri Lanka is famous for doing in-service training at the weekends – 30 week, week-end courses. The same materials in a 120 hour course can be covered at weekends in this way, but the accruing skills, the hot- house or ‘crucible’ effect of full time study is dissipated during the week and a great deal of ‘catching up where we left off last week’ undermines the impact of such courses. As the weekends go on, motivation decreases, drop out rates increase and the outcome is a watered down version of what might have been. (It is for the same arguments that the PIP supported Skills Through English for Public Servants – STEPS – programme is a four week, full time, intensive, residential course.) 15

In short, weekend courses work on an administrative level - ensuring no disruption to the school, no need for substitute teachers – but weekend classes are not, ultimately, cost effective, because they don’t bring about the desired behavioural change. However, it takes some confidence on the side of the school principal to allow a teacher to be absent for four weeks in the hope that they will return to do a better job, than it does to keep them where they are, underperforming for the rest of the year. It also takes commitment. As these are the very skills needed in school principals, their willingness to release staff for intensive four week in-service training is a good indicator of school principal capacity.

3.8 A realistic shift When working for behavioural change, it is important to set realistic objectives, and not to be over ambitious or inflate the real change that occurs. For example, to develop capacity in learner centred teaching, in order to make students more independent learners – initiative-takers with better critical thinking skills - teachers have to move away from lecture-based, teacher centred lessons towards more task-based, learner-centred lessons. At the same time, the content of lessons needs to be less that of rote learning and copying models, motivated by punishment or reward (behaviourism) and more critical thinking based: observing and discovering, testing hypotheses, generalising and applying own rules (cognitive approach). It is unrealistic to expect a methodological shift from teacher centred to learner centred and at the same time from behaviourist to cognitive approaches: Teacher centred x xx x x x

Cognitive approach

Behaviourism

x x x xxx Learner centred

Figure one: optimum behavioural shift in the way teachers conduct classes

A more realistic target would be to expect the majority of teachers to have shifted one quadrant into the next dimension, either, from more teacher-centred to more learner centred-teaching, but still behaviourist, copying models: Teacher centred x xx x x x xxx x x x Learner centred
Figure two: realistic behavioural shift in the way teachers conduct classes (a)

Cognitive h

Behaviourism

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or, from more behaviourist teaching to using more cognitive approaches, but still rather teacher centred: Teacher centred x xx x x x

Cognitive h

Behaviourism

Xxx xx

Learner centred
Figure three: realistic behavioural shift in the way teachers conduct classes (b)

3.9 Assimilating change Personal (and indeed national) development takes much longer than the donor’s or the government’s ‘time line’ allows. This simple factor is continually undermined by hothouse, battery hatched projects and the need for verifiable impact after one or two years. One of the main lessons to be learnt is the three-day workshop that appeals to bankers and government officials alike, is perhaps the biggest waste of time in the whole field of education and development. As we have seen, the unit of change – of behavioural change – is around 120 hours: four weeks, done intensively. The time to assimilate and ‘own’ the skills accrued on such a course, however, may take much longer. To assimilate is to go beyond the ‘steps’, the recipes, the techniques, the reflection: it means to master the repertoire, to adapt it, to make its generative potential generate what’s required for specific, new situations. As in the acquisition of all new skills, the process of assimilation includes several stages, but once learnt, occupies less and less conscious brain space, and becomes more automatic, like learning to ride a bicycle or word-process a document. The stages of accruing skills and experience: The Assimilation Concertina • • • • • • • • awareness raising (which can include challenge, even hostility to the new model) over acceptance (where all behaviour is interpreted through the same model) over use (other more suitable solutions may be disregarded) time to let things ‘settle’ (a filtering process; things become less black and white) harmonisation (of new skills with old skills and whereby models are personalised) adaptation (experimentation begins; parts of one model mix with parts of another) assimilation (whereby the model or skill or information becomes second nature) optimum use (concertinaed in the brain, but representing a wealth of experience).

The biggest obstacle to validating this theory is that education projects are not allowed this filtering time in their budgets. Impact studies are rarely carried out or, if they are, they are expected to show results too soon. Indeed, any initiative that might take longer than the political life of a new policy or a new minister of education, is not considered as a viable activity. Educational change involving a) behavioural change in teachers, b) the assimilation concertina and c) on-going professional development, requires both time and money. Long term, on-going monitoring and support visits should be factored in to any plans for sustainable change.

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3.10 Establishing cross-institutional links Finally, change management must work across traditional institutional links. Change may not happen in straight horizontal or vertical lines as discussed in 3.6 above. Parallel lines might include regulation and reform of the private pre-schools and tutories through local government, not the Provincial Ministry of Education. Diagonal lines might link central and provincial education and training institutes that deal with young adults – for example the Management Development Training Department (MDTD) to the Vocational Training College, Trincomalee. (See also section 2.1, last paragraph, which gives more examples of unconventional links, such as public-private partnerships, to achieve institutional coherence.) This then brings up the question of de centralising change. Usually one of the factors of change management is de centralisation. But a discussion of the devolved and concurrent duties of the Central and Provincial Ministries of Education requires a strategy paper all of its own! However, it is important to point out that central ministries and institutions of education will behave like the stakeholders described in 3.5.2 above. If excluded from the change initiative, they will become threatened and obstructive, if included, they will become empowered and supportive.

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4. Exams
4.1 Exams as a driving force for educational change The most powerful ‘driver’ for educational change is changing the exams and the examination system. The exam is the tail that wags the dog. This is the case because exams are ‘high stakes’: they validate the educational culture, the system, the teachers, the learners and their futures. The sooner educational reformists recognise this fact, the sooner they will be able to make sustainable changes to the way subjects are taught and learnt. Take, for example, the introduction of testing mental arithmetic in Britain. Superseded by calculators, children could no longer do sums in their own heads. Mental arithmetic testing at primary level became a new initiative to test an old skill that had somehow fallen out of the curriculum. Mental arithmetic tests were included in the national primary school exams. Everyone knew that without the pressure of the exam, it would not have been taught. In addition, because it was ‘mental’ arithmetic, it could not be tested by reading and writing. It had to be tested by an oral exam (presented as an audio recording or read aloud by the teacher) with answers written down by the pupils. Both the content and the way of examining were new, but had a powerful wash-back effect on the classroom. Mental arithmetic is now systematically taught in all UK primary schools. If, instead of mental arithmetic skills, a learner-centred, task based methodology were required, the examination system could also be utilised to drive that change. Informal assessment could be introduced to partially take the place of traditional exams. Students could be assessed ‘by portfolio’ on their coursework or by averaging their continuous assessment grades for written work throughout the school year. The exam would underwrite the principles of the task-based, learner centred methodology. Similarly, if children are required to be critical-thinking problem-solvers, then school exams must include the testing of these skills. If a more articulate work force is required, school leavers who can ‘produce’ and ‘express’ ideas rather than simply recognise information, then the exclusive use of multiple choice exams must stop. If teacher training involves practical skills then an observed and assessed ‘practicum’ must become an integral part of the final assessment that qualifies them as teachers. In short, if the exam reflects what is being taught – not just in content but also in process – then there is coherence between subject and exam, between the methodology of teaching and the methodology of testing. If there is innovation in the exam there will be innovation in the subject. It is up to educational reformers to take a firm hold of the tail that wags the dog.

4.2 Exam alternatives Changing the exams and the examination system often means engaging with university ‘experts’. In traditional education systems like Sri Lanka’s, most exams lead to a university entrance exam. This is an unfortunate fact - unfortunate because the university ‘experts’ who write the exam are often the most conservative educationalists in the system. They are the gate keepers, wielding power over an ever-growing population of would-be university goers, guarding the too-few university places that do exist against the

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majority. It is not from this camp that an innovative exam is likely to be provided! Indeed, it is to their advantage to keep the exam traditional and elitist even though it has the potential to drive enormous change back down through the system. However, based on the premise that 98% of students don’t qualify for university in Sri Lanka in the first place, one solution is to take the impetus away from university entrance exams and to begin to offer other kinds of exams that lead to other kinds of qualifications and confer other kinds of status. For example, it may be possible for a Provincial Council to enter a contract with an international examining body like the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) to offer alternative ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels or internationally recognised English certification at elementary level (Key English Test or KET), pre intermediate level (Preliminary English Test or PET) and intermediate level (First Certificate English). Donor funding could be used to pay for two or three such exam places per school or school district and then establish a ‘scholarship’ competition within the school which in turn drives reform in the way things are taught. Another solution is to offer alternative, scientifically validated, innovative exams, developed by the Provincial Ministry itself, again, with technical assistance funded by project donors, for non examined subjects. The non-examined subject is ‘low stakes’ and non threatening – students do not have a lot to win or lose by taking it; all the more reason for examining the non-examined subjects in an innovative way. An innovative exam can have a positive wash-back on the subject it is examining and thereafter on other subjects in the curriculum that start to follow suit. The aim is to build a reputation around that exam so that it really ‘qualifies’ school leavers in a particular area. As time goes on, employers learn the value of that ‘qualification’ and start asking for it. Demand from employers rather than from universities re-orientates parents, students and through them teachers and school directors. As English is a non-examined subject there is little standardisation in the end-of-year exams. In many districts, exams are bought in from private institutions – for example in Trincomalee District exams are bought from a private school in Negombo, because it is cheaper than having the district produce its own exam. On close inspection, the Negombo exams leave much to be desired. Instead, English teachers and ISAs could be encouraged to develop skills in test specification, item writing, and standardisation of marking. They should also learn how to pilot and analyse sample data on test item validity and reliability. ZDEs could be persuaded to balance cost effectiveness with standards and professional effectiveness. Expertise could be utilised from the British Council, possibly utilising their Exams Unit and the English Language Services Manager's work to provide training, awareness-raising about testing, the benefits of positive wash back, and the development of a test item bank.

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5. Curriculum standards
5.1 Textbook as curriculum When governments mistrust the ability of their teaching workforce, they prescribe, to the letter, what must be taught on which day. As late as the 1970’s, France was a nation famous for the fact that every class at the same grade level in every school across the nation was on the same page on the same day. This extreme model is prescriptive to the point of indoctrination – not for a moment does it consider the differences in individual needs of students, communities, and regions. It treats teachers, classrooms, textbooks and students as parts of a machine. Cambodia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka are not as extreme as 1970’s France, but to a lesser or greater extent these countries use the prescribed textbook for each subject at each grade as if it were the curriculum. There is pressure to ‘cover’ the textbook – to ‘do’ each page, and the assumption is, that by studying each page in the book, students will pass the exam. If teachers maintain the spirit of what is being taught in the textbook but do it in their own way they are generally not appreciated for their efforts – not by their department nor their school director, nor by their students nor the parents of their students… In most South and South East Asian school systems it is not good to be seen to be different. There is a great deal of pressure, in Vietnam, for example, for student teachers not to excel, and not to experiment with new-fangled methodology or materials. Within a short period of getting a permanent appointment, new teachers are brow-beaten by the rest of the department to sink to the same level of mediocrity, in order not to raise student expectations as to what could really be achieved in a 45 minute lesson, and most importantly, not to put other teachers under pressure to do more preparation. What better way to enforce the idea of uniformity than by making uniformity equal minimal effort? It is easy then to insist that the textbook is the curriculum and that the duty of the teacher is to ‘cover the book’.

5.2 Content and performance standards If however the government has faith in the ability and sincerity of teachers, understands the need to cater for the different needs of different groups of learners, and is secure enough to tolerate and encourage diversity, then the opposite of the old French system can be introduced: curriculum standards. The education authority produces a list of curriculum standards, divided in to grades and subjects. The list is made up of content standards and performance standards. Content standards stipulate what topics, information, skills and knowledge need to be taught. Performance standards stipulate what levels need to be achieved to what level of mastery. These curriculum standards operate like a detailed syllabus, but they do not say when or how to teach the items listed. It is up to the school, school department, or head of department, to take the curriculum standards and turn them into a scheme of work, timetable, series of lesson plans. In many cases it is also up to the department to match textbooks and resources to the standards. Some schools might find a single textbook to match the standards very closely; others might draw on a range of published and in-house materials as exponents of the standards. In Thailand, the Ministry of Education approves four or five books per subject per grade which closely fit the curriculum standards. It is then up to the individual schools to specify

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which books they will use. If the books work in a sequence, building, for example, skills over three school grades, then the school must commit to using those books for at least one complete cycle. Education ministries vary from country to country as to how much control they exert in this area. In Qatar, the Supreme Education Council only exerts control insofar as the curriculum standards must be adopted. Then it is entirely up to individual schools to use their own expertise and resources to choose which textbooks and supplementary materials they will use. Each school is given a student per capita grant for the purchasing of textbooks and resources. It is up to each school how they utilise this grant. Crucially, in this approach, the same standards which are decided on for curriculum and syllabus are used for the examinations as well. One document is used for all. This makes the whole system of teaching, learning, and evaluation both coherent and transparent. Transparent, because only those items which have been described ‘core’ standards are tested. In this way, teachers and students can work towards achievable, objective goals. They can also avoid becoming victims of rote learning and the memorisation of whole pages from the textbook: the textbook is no longer the curriculum. It is no longer important to know what happened ‘on page 57’. Students begin to have the opportunity to learn life skills, not just become good at schooling and school books. Most countries with education systems which are rated highly by UNICEF have curriculum standards for content and performance. These are usually published documents and can be made available to the Northern Provincial Council. In many cases they can also be accessed though the internet. In this way, a great deal of time and effort can be saved. Curriculum standards for Sri Lanka do not have to be developed from scratch. Moreover, by studying and copying the education standards of other countries Sri Lanka can align itself with international standards, and by so doing raise its own standards and expectations about what teachers and students should be striving to achieve. One place to start is to use another country’s curriculum standards, to analyse how a universal subject, like Maths or Science, is being taught in the Northern Province. The curriculum standards could be used in this way to do a needs analysis, to measure the shortfall of what is not being taught. Then, supplementary curriculum standards, schemes of work, lesson plans and materials could be developed and sourced, to fill in the gaps and bring those studying the subject more in line with what is internationally accepted. 5.3 Competency based standards One of the most important factors in the curriculum standards approach, is that each standard is written as a competency, as a ‘can do’ statement. For example, from the Qatar English as a second language curriculum standards, Grade 2:
Students can develop reading strategies and actively participate in reading with the teacher to: • apply phonic strategies to decoding of simple, regular words in context; • identify and read sight words using expanding vocabulary knowledge, word/symbol correspondence, context and phonic knowledge; • distinguish lines of print from sentences; • read simple sentences aloud with acceptable pronunciation and stress relevant to meaning; • identify and understand basic sentence punctuation: capital letters, full stops and question marks.

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and from the Maths Grade 7 curriculum standards:
Most students can identify alternate, supplementary and corresponding angles describe angle properties related to diagonals of squares, rectangles, parallelograms and rhombuses use these and other properties to find the values of unknown angles in geometric figures use a ruler and compasses to construct angle bisectors and perpendicular bisectors and, together with a protractor, to construct simple geometric figures from given data. Students who progress further can calculate interior and exterior angles of polygons solve problems using angle and symmetry properties of polygons and angle properties of parallel and intersecting lines construct 2-D shapes from given information, including scale drawings. Students who make slower progress can recognise vertically opposite angles, angles on a straight line and around a point work out the sum of the angles of a triangle and the relationship between the exterior angle of a triangle and its interior opposite angles use these and other properties to find the values of angles in geometric figures use a ruler and protractor to construct triangles, given two sides and the included angle, or two angles and the included side.

Curriculum standards expressed as competencies force teachers, parents, learners, examiners, school inspectors, education officials and ultimately politicians, to start thinking in terms of building up individual components of learning to form a well rounded education, the skills base of the next generation, achievable outputs and goals, school leavers with the right competencies to join the work force and a ‘can do’ mentality for students, teachers and teacher trainers.

5.4 Competency based assessment Once the required competencies are specified, by subject and grade, they not only formulate the objectives of each lesson or block of work, they also automatically form the assessment criteria for progress and achievement tests. In terms of progress assessment, the teacher keeps a record of how well each student is doing on each competency. For example, this assessment tool can be used for evaluating student progress in Tamil literacy
Tamil Language Grade 7 Students can… … summarise key messages from straightforward texts. … write descriptions of people. … understand spoken text and take relevant notes. … express certainty and possibility in future plans. … construct a polite written invitation. … write a letter giving advice. … express a point of view, likes and dislikes in writing. … write a short discursive text (advantages, disadvantages. … write well ordered multi step instructions. Competencies for on-going assessment
Ravi Theva Sameem Shanti

Class 7G
Pushpa Dasa …

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Key The marks in the form are built up over one or two terms. Each 'can do' statement would be achieved after one or several units of work, so the marks are modified by the teacher as the lessons go on. A mark given by the teacher as an empty circle ( ) means the sub skill is not yet evident in the student being assessed. The teacher then draws a diagonal line through it ( ) once the student starts to show evidence of using the sub skill. When the student develops the sub skill the teacher crosses the diagonal line in the circle ( ) and once the student masters the sub skill and uses it appropriately in a consistent manner, the teacher then colours in the circle ( ). Different sub skills are built up through different units of work until all the boxes are filled.

Likewise, passing a final exam can be related to achieving competencies instead of meaningless grades or marks. Results are expressed in terms of a list of competencies mastered, developed, attempted, not achieved, for example.

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6. Textbooks
6.1 Sri Lankan textbook options All this is a far cry from the World Bank funded multi-option book system through the NIE. A multi option system should by definition, allow for a range of textbooks and give education zones the right to choose. The World Bank’s provision of multi options for English, for example, provides, in fact, just two titles, both written by the same pool of authors, coming from the same background and approach. Unfortunately the result is not aligned to current international English language teaching standards. The English textbooks for grade 7, for example, are outdated and obscure in vocabulary, topics and attitude, the language curriculum is low frequency and idiosyncratic, and there is a serious absence of discrete items in terms of language ‘building bricks’. These books are incredibly difficult to teach and learn from. They do not help students become independent, fluent, initiative-taking users of English. They don’t even help students master the basics. Education advisers, supervisors, directors, trainers and teachers need to become much more critical of short comings in textbooks and if they cannot hope for better outputs from the textbook authors, they must start building up their own resources.

6.2 Confidence in alternative resources Fortunately, guidelines for using textbooks in the Sri Lankan school system have always been quite flexible and this is an advantage the Northern Province can capitalise on. There are ways of working around the textbook problem. First is to build up the confidence and skills of teachers, school directors, ISAs, ZDEs and Provincial Ministry of Education so that they are not afraid of doing something different for the Northern Province. Then there is the need to examine just how closely they must use the NIE prescribed textbooks and to what extent these books can be supplemented. They will find that, in fact, there is quite some room for manoeuvre. Some tools that the Northern Provincial Ministry of Education can develop on a limited donor budget - in addition to the introduction of competency based content and performance curriculum standards, as described in section 4 above – include the development of: confidence building measures for school officials, teachers, parents and students to promote competencies, curriculum standards and demote textbooks; schemes of work which select the best and leave the rest, in terms of textbook pages; collections of skeleton lesson plans which help teachers break unwieldy textbook sections into manageable lessons; high frequency vocabulary lists/glossaries for Tamil, Sinhala and English; in-house supplementary resource collections which can be shared within departments; book boxes, mobile resource collections, mini libraries and alternative, parallel textbooks from other countries. As the Northern Provincial Council has been granted by GTZ the printing rights for the Skills Through English for Public Servants (STEPS) 120 hour course, they could adapt it and print it for university entrance or tertiary studies English language courses and give it to the Northern universities to teach. Printing costs and some prior teacher training for those who would deliver it could be funded by a donor project.

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7. Capacity building
Sometimes those who control curriculum, textbooks, exams, teacher training and school administration do a disservice to the student population intentionally – the political act of keeping the population undereducated so that they do not question authority, demand better job opportunities or start thinking for themselves. Under Margaret Thatcher, the British Government made modern history and media studies no longer compulsory at ‘O’ Level – the very subjects that might make young people question politics, propaganda and the media. But more often than not, inadequate curriculum, textbook, exams, teachers and school administrators are the result of a simple lack of technical expertise. Education is an evolving and technically diverse field. Many people in senior positions of educational management have received an education themselves, which they rely on to guide policy. This may be subliminal, but the underlying principal is often, “We will do it this way because that’s the way we did it when I was at school…” Perhaps more than in other technical fields, educational policy is based on general or personal experience and not enough credence is given to technical expertise. Just because you’ve experience d something doesn’t mean you’re an expert on it. Just because you’ve learnt something doesn’t mean you can teach it. Just because the system has worked for privileged politicians in privileged environments doesn’t mean it is a good model to roll out to the rest of the country. This is coupled with the fact that education and education reform also has the potential to be highly politicised. Votes are very much wrapped up with voting parents who need to be convinced that their children will benefit from the national education on offer. English medium education in Sri Lanka is politicised in this way. Policy plays on the fact that parents strongly believe that English enhances the employment potential of their children. But instead of strengthening the subject English in the curriculum and making it an examined subject, English medium education for Maths and Science is being paraded as the answer. It is being promoted, primarily, by those who had an English medium education themselves, probably in Colombo or Kandy or Jaffna. But there are several fundamental mistakes in promoting English medium teaching of Maths and Science in Sri Lanka. 1. Research shows that ‘A’ Level students consistently score higher marks when they do Maths and Science in their mother tongue, not English. This means, if Sri Lanka pursues its English medium for Maths and Science goal, lip-service will be paid to strengthening English, while Maths and Science standards will drop. 2. Sri Lanka simply does not have the capacity to teach Maths and Science at ‘A’ Level in English – Maths and Science teachers around the Island are not sufficiently bi-lingual to use English naturally and fluently in class. The result: in their effort to use English and their fear of being inaccurate, Maths and Science teachers will rely more and more on reading out notes aloud or writing notes on the board and having students copy. This means, guided discovery, task based learning, group work discussion and the main aspects of a participatory, learner centred, critical thinking approach will go out the window because the teacher and the students will not be able to interact sufficiently in the second language.

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3. Successive governments have stipulated 6-week to 6-month English language classes for Maths and Science teachers to enable them to teach their subject in English. But apart from the problem of finding sufficient numbers of English trainers to teach these teachers, the whole premise that teachers will learn enough English to deliver ‘A’ level Science or Maths in English in 6 weeks or even 6 months, is naïve to say the least. 4. Sri Lanka’s English skills base has been systematically eroded since at least the 1960s. Such erosion cannot be put to rights, and voters cannot be satisfied, within a presidential term. If it has taken nearly half a century to de-skill, it will take nearly half a century and a substantial budget to bring enough teachers back up to the bilingual level required for English medium teaching. There remains no long term commitment to second language policy or implementation and little understanding of how long it will take, realistically, to achieve results or how much it will cost. Therefore, capacity building for educationalists has to be considered as a long term strategy. It is also probably worth noting that technically, there is no ‘quick fix’. An exam writer or textbook writer should not be in that position without having been a teacher in the first place. Otherwise they will not incorporate practical classroom management and methodology in what they write. Likewise an ISA should be promoted up through the teaching ranks and all ISAs, teacher trainers in PRESET and INSET and materials designers should be required to go back and teach school for at least a month a year – like pilots who have to keep up their flying hours.

7.1 Generative approaches More important than getting teachers to teach Maths and Science in English is to get teacher trainers to adopt a generative approach to teacher education and training. Much of teacher training in Sri Lanka focuses on basic upgrading in subject knowledge and the teaching of methodology amounts to little more than getting teachers to repeat with their students the same lesson they were given for their own improvement. They receive and repeat, receive and repeat. Their copying is only good for one lesson - it is non generative. This approach to teacher training compensates for a school system that has failed them, but it will not help them to become competent practitioners. In addition it forms part of a negative downward cycle: they in turn will produce the next generation of dysfunctional teachers. Teacher training should take teachers beyond the conservative and rather limited ‘apprenticeship’ model of simply learning how to copy. Teacher training should provide teachers with an eclectic but practical methodology – a set of lesson types, techniques, classroom management skills and evaluation tools that can be used with any class in any situation. Teachers can then apply these tools to syllabus, textbook, or resource, and deliver a lesson without ever having seen it demonstrated before. This is the generative approach to teacher training.

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7.2 Teachers toolkits: an eclectic repertoire of techniques An eclectic approach collects new skills without eroding old skills. An eclectic repertoire of techniques provides for a range of techniques that teachers can draw on in order to cater for the different learning styles of their students – aural-oral, visual, reading-writing and kinaesthetic. It also helps them combine a range of approaches to teaching and learning – traditional, behaviourist, cognitive, humanistic, participatory and autonomous. Too much of what is learnt in teacher training college is exclusive or one-way. Teachers are presented with a limited view and a sense of things being black and white: ‘this is the right way and that is the wrong way’; ‘modern is in, traditional is out’. But it is very important for all educational reform to guard against simplistic policy such as this and the consequent pendulum swings it brings about. Time and again, educational reform has ‘thrown the baby out with the bath water’. For example, in the late 1980’s the NIE, under the advice of British Government consultants, decided to embrace the Communicative Approach to teaching English - an international innovation that was fundamentally rethinking the way English was being taught and learnt at that time. Unfortunately out went the baby with the bathwater: communication, fluency skills and speaking for communication were ‘in’; grammar, accuracy and writing skills were ‘out’. To this day, there is no proper teaching of English grammar, accuracy or writing skills in the school curriculum. And meanwhile the rest of the world has moved on. Grammar is back ‘in’. Spelling is ‘in’. Students, of course, need skills for both fluency and accuracy – teaching one and not the other is like teaching someone to walk on one leg. At the same time, a completely open ended ‘anything goes’ eclectic approach lacks quality and is impractical to implement. Certain guidelines, recipes and formats are required to encourage teachers to try out new things. Limiting the number of tools in the tool box and presenting lesson types as a finite list of possibilities is empowering for the majority of teachers and, at the same time, will not cramp the style of the most innovative among them.

7.3 Managing teaching and learning In all this, the place to start is to provide teachers with a toolkit for what is known as ‘Classroom Management’. These are cross-cutting skills that are equally useful for all subjects – they are the fundamental skills a teacher needs to effectively manage the teaching and learning that goes on in the classroom. They are the skills of organising and planning, presenting information, using media and visual aids, eliciting ideas and checking understanding, giving instructions, correcting errors, organising pair work and group work, monitoring and assessing, timing and pacing, providing variety, consolidating, summarising and assigning follow-up tasks. Without these basics, any teacher education project is building on sand. But time and again, foreign funded projects assume that teachers already have their core classroom management skills. One of the reasons why teachers very often don’t have these basics is because teacher education in Sri Lanka is lecture based and you can’t learn these skills from a lecturer. If every teacher were trained in basic classroom management skills, the primary and secondary education system would be more than half way towards

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methodological coherence. In addition, teaching and learning would become a lot more effective and efficient. The Provincial Council should develop an in-service teacher training programme in classroom management skills that cuts across all subjects, starting, for example at lower secondary (Grades 5 – 9), and spreading down to primary and up to upper secondary thereafter. Teachers could attend regardless of their subject specialisation and by so doing coherence could be built up between subjects and across the school.

7.4 Finding synergy in capacity building It can be a daunting task to start planning for the training needs of all those in education in the Northern Province who need it. Consider the following list of needs typical to schools in the Northern Province: There is a chronic shortage of school principals with vision or educational expertise. There is a chronic shortage of trained teachers. Since the deployment of newly recruited graduates, many new, untrained teachers have been appointed to schools in the Northern Province but this does not necessarily relieve existing teacher's workloads or responsibilities until the newly appointed staff are trained. Many of the new secondary school textbooks are obscure, complex and do not emphasise the skills students need. Teachers need a 'way through' to teach simple, effective lessons at the real level of the students. Grade 5 students entering new schools at Grade 6 are supposed to have attained the national Grade 5 level in their subjects – which many of them haven't. These students need remedial classes to enter Grade 6. The most effective capacity building in this situation is one that supports, through an umbrella initiative, as many of the groups in need as possible – in other words, one that kills more than two birds with one stone. For example, the following plan deals with as many of the above needs as possible: 1. Harness donor-funds for teacher training or get ZDEs to release funds to school principals for resource person payments. 2. Use experienced teachers in the district to train the newly appointed graduate teachers, and at the same time… 3. … use Grade 5 students in catch-up classes in school holidays and afternoons for the practical teaching practice component of the training; 4. … raise school principal support for using afternoon and vacation time for teaching and training through the support of the ZDEs, and ISAs; 5. …use a selection of materials from the primary school books, the curricula and other published materials as the ‘catch up’ material for the lessons. 6. As the programme continues, build teachers’ and the school director’s confidence in using alternative published materials as a matter of course. 7. Get them to then use the new materials during the regular school year in order to cope with deficiencies in the official textbooks.

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8. Quality assurance
Quality Assurance is the mechanism that is put in place to ensure that intervention or innovation are of sufficient quality to make meaningful improvements in the system. Quality criteria may be difficult to arrive at in isolation, or when an education system, like the Sri Lankan system, is too isolationist or inward looking. That is why, in sections 4.2 and 5.2 above, it is suggested that some kind of bench mark is sought by comparing Sri Lankan exams and curriculum documents with international standards (the KET, PET and FCE exams, and the published UK or Qatar curriculum standards).

8.1 Less is more Injecting quality into the system needs to happen at both process and content level. A useful concept to obtain quality in both is to think in terms of ‘Less is more.’ Curriculum is packed, hours in the day are packed, teaching timetables are packed, classrooms in urban areas are often packed – all amounting to what? Number of hours, size of class, number of pages covered, numbers of items ticked off on the curriculum – these are the indicators of quantity which often substitute for quality. In the search for quality over quantity, however, less is more: less ‘busy-ness’ more ‘business’, less coverage of the textbook pages, more learning; less superficiality, more depth; fewer subjects more mastery; less copying more thinking; less teaching, more learning. One of the reasons ministries of education opt for quantity above quality is because they don’t trust their undereducated or under-skilled teaching force to be left to their own devices in the classroom. So they stuff the curriculum to bursting in order to keep the teachers busy and out of harm’s way. This of course is not the right way to go about running an education system but it is surprising how many countries take the same approach. Of course the alternative is to invest heavily in teacher education. Buying quality is a long term, difficult and expensive process.

8.2 Maintaining quality in the cascade The problem of quality assurance in teacher education is related to cascade training models and the inevitable fact that the cascade thins out. Technical experts train master trainers who train trainers who train teachers who teach students. Each one of these steps is a tier in the cascade. Whenever there are more than three tiers in the cascade, quality will thin out. This has already happened in Sri Lanka. The result is teachers and teacher trainers can pay lip- service to educational theories, approaches, methodologies and techniques, but they cannot actually put these things into practice in the classroom. Moreover, they can’t actually recognise the concepts when they occur naturally in the classroom, even though they have been talking about them for years. Teacher’s toolkits and classroom management skills, therefore, are two very practical places to start. See sections 7.2 and 7.3 above. There is a need to use these tools and skills to inject quality in a controlled, prescriptive and positivist way. At the same time it is important for the Ministry to monitor the cascade closely, over a long period of time. If standards and competencies for teaching are developed and listed

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out for teachers, these standards and competencies will provide the basis for appointing and appraising teachers and teacher trainers as well as the monitoring tool by which quality can be assured in the cascade.

8.3 Quality assurance as a formative and summative process In materials development – curriculum, textbook and exam writing – quality assurance mechanisms have to be designed and put in place at the same time as the writing starts, in a formative way, not as an after-thought or as a tool for summative evaluation alone. As such, formative quality assurance amounts to designing checklists and guidelines as tools for maintaining consistency in approach, conventions, and standards, as the material is being created. One example of a formative quality assurance system is how the GTZ supported Performance Improvement Project (PIP) assured the quality of the Skills Through English for Public Servants (STEPS) course. PIP exercised quality control over what the British Council team of writers produced by agreeing with them and monitoring their use of • a writer’s template – an electronic template that made them all conform to agreed layout, typeface, font size, colour etc. • guidelines for content consistency – ensuring the trainer’s notes for every session, for example, contained the same sections: objectives, session overview, background notes, references for further reading, step by step instructions, answer keys, timing… • style guides and a list of writing conventions • guidelines for piloting and re-writing new material • deadlines for ensuring completion of each successive re-write. In addition, PIP exerted summative quality control at the end of the piloting process by taking charge of the final content and copy edit.

8.4 A checklist for assuring quality in educational reform [Note: Many of the 8 points listed below are summaries of what has already been written in this paper.] 1. Seek the Rolls Royce not the bicycle; don’t settle for second best: invest in extensive, highly relevant training materials and HRD. 2. Ensure curricular, methodological and institutional coherence. 3. Be less insular in outlook: pull national standards up to international ones 4. Exercise positivism (believing there are ‘right ways’ of doing things) and a prescriptive approach to upgrading teacher’s toolkits and classroom management skills; 5. Seek behavioural change though time-intensive, experiential teacher training. 6. Build institutional memory on lessons learnt; don’t neglect specific follow-up. 7. Reject the ‘quick fix’ – invest in long time and money budgets to allow change to be assimilated and ‘owned’ 8. Establish a meritocracy within the traditional system through performance based promotion of key personnel.

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9. Summary of Recommendations
Coherence and change management Page 6 Get education projects to establish institutional links with several central and provincial departments and organisations even when they are the ‘baby’ of one department or organisation in particular. Strengthen public-private links and coherence in education through teachers who work in both systems. Engage the business community and the private schools themselves to offer scholarships. Work with commercial publishing houses to create affordable new books that supplement the existing ones. Seek sponsors from Industry for higher education and research. Provide guidelines to projects so that they use the same system for grouping schools at district level based on the most successful of the previous World Bank, DFID or UNICEF supported clusters. Disseminate past project reports to new projects – to avoid duplication and to exploit and sustain already developed capacity, tools, and lessons learnt. Use a balance of pressure and support - pressure to force staff to change, support to encourage them to change. Instigate change from the top down with senior management and from the bottom-up with teachers and students. Focus on the school, with greater involvement of a 'critical mass' of principals and greater focus on school teams to provide support and help shift school culture, early on in a project. Build trust and win support through professional credibility, flexibility, best practice, good communication, transparency and reliability. Compile, publish and hold within the institutional memory a taxonomy of best practices and lessons learnt. Don’t exclude certain stakeholders from the change process. Remember that exclusion is threatening, inclusion empowering. Anticipate, classify and deal with the objections that will arise from parents, teachers, principals, supervisors, directors, curriculum and textbook writers, examiners, the press. Don’t return a changed individual to an unchanged environment. Accumulate a ‘critical mass’ of change agents to change institutions from within. Plan for, and persuade stakeholders to buy in to, a slow start-up time. Then have the resources in place to accommodate a rapid expansion phase.

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Get the Chief Secretary’s Office and the Provincial Ministry of Education to examine project proposals with a view to change management, change agents and critical mass. Allow enough time and money on a project for change to be assimilated and ‘owned’. Factor in long term, on-going monitoring and support visits to ensure sustainable change. Guard against simplistic policy making for educational reform and the consequent pendulum swings it brings about. Don’t let the baby be thrown out with the bathwater.

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Reforming exams, curriculum and textbooks 20 Consider entering a contract with an international examining body like the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) to offer alternative ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels or internationally recognised English certification. Use donor funding to pay for two or three international exam places per school and establish a ‘scholarship’ competition which drives reform in the way things are taught. Develop alternative, NPC, scientifically validated, innovative exams for non examined subjects with donor funding. Build a reputation around the new exams so that they really ‘qualify’ and empower school leavers in a particular skill or subject area. Contract donor-funded technical assistance to provide training for in-service advisers (ISAs) in test design and exam administration. Produce a list of curriculum standards, divided in to grades and subjects, content and performance standards. Use the same curriculum standards document for curriculum, syllabus, textbook and examinations. Use another country’s curriculum standards as a gap analysis for what needs to be developed in the curriculum. Develop competency based learning objectives and assessment criteria.

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Get education advisers, supervisors, directors, trainers and teachers to become more critical of short-comings in textbooks. Empower them to build up their own supplementary resources.

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Develop confidence building measures for school officials, teachers, parents and students to show the difference between ‘covering’ the textbook and getting ‘real learning’ to take place. Develop schemes of work, collections of skeleton lesson plans, high frequency glossaries for Tamil, Sinhala and English, supplementary resource collections, book box schemes, and alternative, parallel textbooks from other countries. Don’t spend money on educational IT hardware or software for schools.

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Capacity building and teacher education 8-9 Maintain an HRD database where teachers, trainers and administrators’ competencies can be recorded and updated. Build the confidence and skills of the biggest detractors in a ‘protected’ environment. Develop their capacity in a non threatening way with little or no possibility of failure. Use 120 hours full-time, participatory, task-based study as a general unit of change when implementing a capacity development initiative which seeks to effect a behavioural change in the way teachers work. Set realistic objectives to change; don’t be over ambitious or inflate the change that really goes on. Consider capacity building for those involved in education as a long term strategy with no ‘quick fix.’ Require ISAs, teacher trainers and materials designers to go back and teach school for at least one month a year. Get teachers to use an eclectic repertoire of generative techniques to cater for different learning styles – aural-oral, visual, reading-writing, and kinaesthetic and a range of approaches to teaching and learning – traditional, behaviourist, cognitive, humanistic, participatory and autonomous. Make sure all teachers have ‘Classroom Management’ skills for organising and planning, presenting information, using media and visual aids, eliciting ideas and checking understanding, giving instructions, correcting errors, organising pair work and group work, monitoring and assessing, timing and pacing, providing variety, consolidating, summarising and assigning follow up tasks. Give all teachers the same training course in Classroom Management Skills to build coherence between and across school subjects. Start at lower secondary (Grades 5 – 9), and spread down to primary and up to upper secondary.

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Use an umbrella initiative to train as many of the groups in need as possible.

Quality assurance 8, 18 Establish cross-institutional links and learn to work across traditional boundaries. 30 Encourage the concept ‘Less is more’ as in, less coverage of pages, more learning; less superficiality, more depth; fewer subjects more mastery; less copying more thinking; less teaching more learning. Don’t let the cascade thin out the quality: inject quality in a controlled, prescriptive and positivist way through promoting practitioners and implementers and good classroom practice and through close long-term monitoring of the cascade. Design formative quality assurance mechanisms and put them in place at the same time as the project, not as an after-thought or as a form of summative evaluation alone. Aim for the best quality and don’t settle for second best; invest in extensive, highly relevant training materials and HRD. Be less insular in outlook: pull national standards up to international ones. Establish a meritocracy within the traditional system through performance based promotion of key personnel.

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10. Next steps
Step 1: Designing a strategic plan There are obvious limitations to what the Northern Province can achieve on its own when re-thinking education reform. The subject is huge and complex. The Province is affected by conflict and access to many rural schools will be hard. Education is not a devolved subject and the central Ministry of Education calls most of the shots. However, it is important for Northern Province to have a strategic plan – a plan that uses the concepts in this paper to look at the bigger picture and that seeks to integrate discrete project components into an integrated whole reform. In this way donors with their own agendas can be turned around and the resources they bring can be fitted to real needs, as decided by the Chief Secretary and the Secretary of the Provincial Ministry of Education, Northern Province. Step 2: Finding an entry point There are several entry points. Bearing in mind the concepts of coherence, change management, capacity development and quality assurance, curriculum standards and exams for non-examined subjects like English would be one place to start. Another would be building literacy skills and critical thinking in mother tongue Tamil language classes. A third would be leadership and methodology training for empowering school principals. Refer back through the report for concrete examples of how to start such initiatives as these. Step 3: Running a pilot Once an entry point has been decided, a small, intense sample or pilot phase needs to be designed and implemented, based as much as possible on existing institutional and staff expertise. This may in itself necessitate a review of what has gone before, project-wise, in the Northern Province, and who are the most likely change agents to work with. The pilot should build coherence and capacity at as many levels as possible, taking into consideration the concepts from the report regarding top down/bottom up; creating a critical mass and using the whole school as the unit of change. At the same time the pilot phase should be intense and bring about a behavioural change in the educational practitioners it involves, using the concept of the 120-hour intensive full time training as the unit of change for teacher training, and creating a ‘buzz’ of popularity as it does so, much like STEPS. Step 4: Financial considerations Related to all of the above initial steps, is the question of finance. As well as the obvious utilising existing funds and harnessing new ones (such as recently arrived donor funded projects which have a fair amount of flexibility in their spending mandate) - financial planning should also take into account: a) time budgets as well as money budgets b) exploiting non financial motivation in the system c) the possibility of utilising the private sector.

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Published by

Performance Improvement Project (PIP)
Chief Minister’s Secretariat Complex Inner Harbour Road Trincomalee Sri Lanka

Telephone Fax Email Web Author Date

+94-26-222 4014 +94-26-222 4014 info@pip.lk www.pip.lk Psyche Kennett, HRD Consultant August 2007

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