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TWB Approach to Global Education Challenges

Solid Research
It is critically important to identify the specific challenges that teachers face in order to
leverage change. These challenges include a lack of resources to support their endeavors, as
well as external forces opposing their work-- such as political instability, poverty, and
inoperable health infrastructures for the communities they serve.
We see a fundamental difference between knowing a country context and its unique
challenges and only knowing about them. Our reliance on local teacher members, university and
international agency research, and our own in- country studies ensures that we know both the
people and the challenges they face.
For example, in Pakistan, one of our partners (PODA - Potohar Organization for Development
Assistance) counts the number of children going to school each week and month and reports
these figures to local authorities, then checks the official records against the data collected in the
village. In other words, our research takes place simultaneously at 30,000 feet and on the
With such a dependable core, the evaluative criteria, data-collection, review, analysis, and change
strategies may be customized to meet local conditions. We pay particular attention to context-
specific sector assessments: what currently exists within a given school and, in increasingly
concentric circles, the community around it so that we can understand the available resources (or
lack thereof) that support or hinder educational development. Such assessments include:


•Student-teacher ratios
•Health related issues
•Attendance rates (by gender)
•Graduation rates (by gender)
•Formal evaluation metrics for student performance
•Oversight of formal and non- formal support


•Facilities in and around the school

•Annual education budget and expenditures
•Teacher capacity/limitations
•Government capacity/limitations
•Local/international businesses

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•NGO capacity/limitations

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•Formal learning structures

•Non- formal learning structures
•Access to ICT

•Indigenous social networks (decision-making capacity)

•Satellite systems


•Educational orientation
•Gender lens
•Historical context
•Religious context
•Political affiliations
Local Partnerships: Implementation Where it Matters Most
We have never made the assumption that we go it alone. We heartily agree with the
United Nations, in its recent report on development indicators, that this is the era of the
NGO. The organizations that interact with teachers and communities are the cornerstone
of successful programs, and so we choose our partners carefully. At TWB, we recognize
the critical importance of forming high performance and high integrity partnerships. We
depend upon them.
Our partners are both local and international, for-profit and non-profit, from diverse
sectors, with an array of visions and missions. TWB has succeeded in forming
partnerships that are more productive and effective than competing for scarce funding
resources. At TWB, we trade our expertise for expertise we do not have, should the
match be mutual. We invest our time and diplomacy to create durable networks.
Whether our partners are large and international or small and local, we our focus is on
ensuring reliability of:
•Local leadership: We target innovators, mentors, and community leaders

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•Local resources: We mobilize existing resources within local communities
•Local capacity: We translate leadership and resources into multiplier effects

Partnerships Have To Work Both Ways

There are several ways in which we evaluate whether or not a partnership is going to
work. We ask ourselves about whether such a partnership allows us to reach more
people, strengthen our mission, increase our resources for use in the field, or facilitate
the delivery of services.
Corporate Social Responsibility partners can help create a win-win all around by making
a commitment to human welfare and education
Channel and Distribution partners allow us to reach more educators and rely on trusted
Complementary partners allow us to join forces, in particular regions, in order to provide
coordinated services and share resources.
We spend a great deal of time in this area, for a partnership gone awry or one resting on
a flimsy foundation can be destructive. As is the case with most successful partnerships,
two features must take place:
•Clarity: Nuts and bolts conversations that specify the scope of the partnership and
project(s), mutual benefits, timelines, individual roles and accountability
•Trust: Relationships matter, and - combined with clarity - are a winning
combination of hard work and commitment.

Inquiries from the Field

There are huge needs out there. We're often flooded with requests to work at the local
level. We have developed a nimble process by which we can identify, engage, support,
and evaluate those partners who are making a difference.

1) Institutional Mapping: We create an inventory of existing organizations working

in the enterprise by gathering information from key sources that illustrate the clientele,
services and geographic areas of operation. We have created an Excel data- base with
criteria we list and apply equally. The maps are used to identify potential partners
through the Partner selection tool.

2) Partner Selection: We create a short list of 3-5 potential partners. This list
evaluates core components, such as institutional capacity, vision, human resources,
program viability. We will look for the strategic plan, samples of individual work plans,
budgets, by-laws, organizational setup, policies, accounts and professional development.
These are considered heavily in the fourth element: Partnership Definition, Action Plan,
and Evaluation. We have also developed a course for our projects with Community
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Teaching & Learning Centers – a barometer for determining good intentions.

3) Program Design and Planning Methods: We pay special attention to how

partner organizations design programs. In doing so, we look at existing projects and
measure them against the plan.

4) Partnership Definition, Action Plan, and Evaluation: This takes the longest
time, but when done thoroughly, lasts the longest. We focus on what they can do to
enhance the overall goal of the project and what they expect from Teachers Without
Borders. We look for ways in which partner organizations can be self-reflective about
progress and open to an independent, third- party evaluation.
It is our intention to work with organizations that have proven their ability to deliver
on promises. Furthermore, we do not implant ourselves in regions and find partners,
rather we are approached by community organizations seeking our assistance.

Implementation Blend: High-Tech, High-Touch, High-Teach

When it comes to effective educational practice, one size rarely fits all; in short, formulas
often fail. With good data in hand, we operate with a compass, rather than a map.
It shows. Here's what we have learned: At TWB in the field, an operational and
innovative implementation blend of high-tech, high-touch, high- teach has resulted in
more effective and long- lasting changes to an educational setting than any one approach
in isolation. We have also learned that such a blend allows us to access local leadership.
This blended approach resonates with communities because, in the end, they learn how
to solve problems more effectively. A brief definition follows:
High-teach: TWB has conceived (with the help of our membership), built, and recently
launched a FREE elearning platform (TWB Tools) that enables its members to connect,
collaborate, and create curriculum that will enhance their roles as educators. As a result,
a local leader is able to access a community of educators and develop those materials that
can be shared, even off line. The high-tech. portion breaks new ground in open-
educational resources and is offered to our partners. In short, the high-tech. accelerates
the high- touch, high- teach components of our blend. The TWB Toolset is described at
length in this document.
High-touch: Face-to-face communication has significant strengths. At TWB we
depend upon the power of humans to meet and see each other, whether they live in the
same community or meet new friends from abroad. TWB Community Teaching and
Learning Centers (CTLCs) provide those opportunities, helping to provide opportunities
to solve problems at the local level. CTLCs have offered after-school training, emergency
relief, HIV/AIDS and Health awareness courses, girls empowerment clubs, cultural

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exchange experiences. Supported by the high-tech. element, CTLCs are launching points
for both learning AND earning.
High-Teach: We understand, too, that our focus on enhancing teacher excellence,
worldwide, involves that teachers know their subject and enlist the skills necessary to
communicate and teach these subjects, despite enormous obstacles. Excellent teachers
know the children, the way they learn, and the influences on their lives. Teachers
Without Borders ensures that, when we help gather educators together (on site and on
line), we are prepared to help them where they are serve as a resource and support for
each other. TWB runs professional development conferences all over the world.
Keeping the dignity of the profession front and center, we are particularly proud of our
ability to bring together teachers from regions of conflict. It is an act of respect to
engage educators in Rwanda, for example, in seminars on effective pedagogy and
curriculum development—these are often sub- standard in impoverished and war- torn

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