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Seminar on the Role of PTAs in sustaining ICT projects in schools

Date and Time 
Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 08:00 - 16:00
educational telecentres in Bolivian schools

educational telecentres in Bolivian schools

Savana Signatures is organising a one day seminar on the Role of Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) in sustaining ICT projects in schools. This event will bring together Parent teacher Associations from the Tamale Metropolis and the Savelugu Nanton Districts as well as two connect4Change (C4C) partners, Presby Education Unit and the catholic Education Unit. 

Location

Tamale
Jisonayili
Tamale, Ghana
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School time tabling management application

Comment Author

Joel Kamba Baguma

Tuesday, 20th December, 2011

Yese,
Thanks for the link, it will be useful in our next projects as it directly answers one of the most needed items in a school.

Joel

Sustaining ICT projects in schools

Comment Author

Joel Kamba Baguma

Tuesday, 20th December, 2011

Hi Yesse,
Greetings to the People of Kalingalinga!
I totally agree with you on the fact that we need to demonstrate the” link between school or specifically pupils' results and whatever ICT interventions you are proposing”.
We all know that so many factors (ranging from school environment to the quality of teachers/ learners) have a bearing on quality education. It is quite hard to tell that ICT integration has contributed so much to improved student performance for example and this automatically leads us into detailed research to justify the contribution of each of these factors to improved results. 
Yese, probably you could share with us some tools that can justify this result if any.
Other than that justification, on many occasions teachers are tasked to cover the syllabus in a given period of time which has been made easy by the use of ICT for teaching as elaborated by a champion teacher “with the use of ICT difficult things can easily be explained using videos, pictures or simulations hence saving a lot of time which can be used to the benefit of the learner and the teacher”.
Recently, a headteacher realized that a big number of teachers have the capacity to use the internet and she requested them to always send their schemes of work by email. Surprisingly all the teachers sent their schemes of work as requested.  This is the little creativity and drive we need from school administrators. It implies an assured budget for internet and maintenance!
If schools do not see the link between ICT interventions and results, then why do school committees decide to acquire computers?  I hope it is not for marketing purposes!

Joel

School Timetabling management application

Comment Author

Yese Bwalya

Thursday, 15th December, 2011

Dear Colleagues, from one of my discussion groups on Free Software FOSS/Innovation somebody shared this interesting application called UniTime at http://www.unitime.org

On several occassions school managers have asked for applications that address their needs and I think this is a shared need.

UniTime is an open-source enterprise system for automated construction of demand driven course and examination timetables. It also provides event management capabilities and a limited student scheduling capabilities. It is a distributed system that allows multiple university and departmental schedule managers to coordinate efforts to build and modify a schedule that meets their diverse organizational needs while allowing for minimization of student course conflicts.

The new version (UniTime 3.2) of the system includes curriculum-based course timetabling and more student scheduling (e.g., including the new Student Scheduling Assistant) capabilities delivering a complete package covering all the timetabling needs of a university or any other educational institution.

Best
Yese

Social Sustainability model

Comment Author

Yese Bwalya

Thursday, 15th December, 2011

Hello Steve,
Long time! Hope you doing well all-round. It is very kind of you to share your work- so what else have I missed? Ahah.

Well seriously speaking this subject of sustainability is crucial and more so to educational projects.

I really like the comments Joel made. His/her entire email is full of excellent points and I had to read through few more times over to discover just where the heap is.

And here it is:
“Recently, i have come to realise that PTA is one of the big sources of funds in schools but leadership in a school matters. if the headteacher/principal, department heads do not understand the value of ICT in a school, there will not be a budget allocation for it.
For example at CfSU we are implementing ICT for education project in secondary schools, in one of the schools considered "champion school" the headteacher was transferred to  another school and the new headteacher informed the teachers that they were wasting alot of time in the computer lab. the teachers had moved to a level of handling their routine work using ICT which was new to the new headteacher”

Joel concludes by suggesting that “...so all these aspects are achieved by social sustainability”.
And I totally agree with him.
 
PTA and their Money
This is a well-known fact. But you have to be careful with this statement. PTAs financial muscle and generally their resourcefulness differ across type of school. For instance PTAs for public funded schools are less likely to be as resourceful as those in community, faith based or private schools for obvious reasons. As a result you are more likely to have a supportive and receptive PTA board in projects implemented, in for instance, community schools than in government funded schools. The same applies to budgeting. It is easier to push for and receive approval for additional ICT budget in less bureaucratic institutions such as community schools.
  
1. Head teacher/Principal not understand value of ICT

To be fair, I don’t think there is any head teacher or principal who does not take delight in better results for his/her pupils. Lets face it, head teachers are employed specifically to produce results. And that is what concerns every head teacher. What I have learnt over the years in change management trainings is that managers are more interested in the ‘What’ and not ‘How’ of a statement. It is WHAT must be done and not HOW to do it. The HOW is only of concern to them if it leads to the WHAT. And admittedly what we (ICT evangelists as they like calling us) do is spend endless time in schools trying to get managers to understand the HOW - that is for a different level of management.
From instance during one of the Change management workshops I conducted for schools heads, one head teacher from a faith based school, and who was having difficulties pushing for adoption of ICT in the schools to a very conservative school board, was very happy to hear that she could (WHAT) introduce a ‘ICT user policy’ than been lectured on (HOW) “installing software” to censor and control access to obscene materials. Of course the two interventions are necessary but only the WHAT question is a management concern while the other is a technical matter.

So to accuse head teachers of not understanding is not just unfair but abdicating our responsibilities. We should take responsibility for failing to make then understand. Many if not all, school managers are qualified people with a much larger stake and interest in the activities of the school than we want to make ourselves believe. All we need is to demonstrate to them the link between school or specifically pupils' results and whatever ICT interventions you proposing. This may sound funny but that’s what I was told once by a school manager – we are paid to get good results for pupils/students and not to train teachers in ICT.  This does not mean they don’t want teachers to be trained. No. They are perfectly at peace with that provided it leads to good results and normally that is the weakest link in most projects. Even though most ICT projects include tailored training for teachers, which usually is good and well justified, what we should remember is that training teachers is not a core business of a school. We have seen how trained teachers leave schools the moment they acquire ICt skills. This is not a sustianable approach. Few in any,  PTA boards would want to allocate money to such an activity however important it is. because its a risk investment. But PTA are perfectly happy to accept donors pay for such training for their teachers. And this is not surprising! A project foocused on ICT teacher training is only sustainable in a teacher training college. A teacher training college in this case has several variables or factors that fulfil a sustainable model for such a project.

2. Teachers wasting time in computer lab
It is hard for any head teacher to accept that ICTs have been mainstreamed into teachers routine work, when teachers are found in the computer lab most of the time. Relatively speaking, teachers spend much of their learning-time or day-time time teaching than reading or preparing lessons. Researching and Preparing lessons are tasks normally performed outside active day-time periods. Getting ICT in teacher’s routine work is allowing them to use ICT in communicating with students and fellow teachers, researching, and delivering lessons, coaching and supervising lessons- half of which is done outside computer labs and indeed outside active lesson-time. So I would not immediately dismiss the excuse given by a new head teacher in Joel’s example, who decided to stop teachers from ‘camping’ in the lab.

  1. Champion Schools that are not Stable
Again I agree with Joel about the need for ‘champion schools’ as both a reference 'model' and as locus of inspiration. In my country this has really helped to get other schools off the feet. But we should be careful not to confuse transformational leadership (a champion head master), and Institutional Transformation. You will know that it wasn’t Institutional transformation when the change in top management results into a complete abandonment of the changes. A Champion School can only be truly stable when comprehensive changes in systems and procedures have taken place. In short, when institutional transformation has taken place.

Lastly social sustainability and project design

Yes I also agree that social sustainability is key to project sustainability especially for educational project which are intricately linked to society. This is why the comments by Joel about Social Sustainability, is spot on.

Traditional discourse on sustainability based largely on economic and environmental considerations or variables is insufficient for constructing a sustainable model for educational projects. Yet for many educational project that I have reviewed, those ‘soft themes’ of social indicators such as ‘feeling of belonging’ are never seriously considered. So to start with, many projects are fundamentally flawed. I have been reminded several times, by heads of schools, PTA members and indeed school managers about how they feel ‘left out’ in  project design but only to be asked to embrace the project just when funding is about to ran dry. Of course this claim is made by even those who were actually consulted. But the truth is most ICT projects have largely been designed and implemented with heavy hand of the ‘tech evangelist’ many of whom are so indifferent to the needs of head teachers or even teachers themselves.

It is important to recognize that different societies have different value systems upon which they evaluate new ideas - and nowhere else other than education institutions is this such a big factor. The social conditions necessary to support a project sustainably may vary from society to society but we need to establish basic framework. So what we need is to invest time in researching and identifying existing social models/framework which are self sustaining and on which we can construct our projects than building/creating new social conditions because there is no project with times and resources to do that.
Good luck Steve.

 

Sustaining ICT projects in schools

Comment Author

Joel Kamba Baguma

Wednesday, 14th December, 2011

Keiko i agree with you especially on having a key people who can drive others at the school as part of involving the target groups. it has worked for us in some schools where "champions" have been stable.
it actually contributes to social sustainability but it is a gragual process just as keiko says. we need to invest time in raising awareness.

Greetings

Joel

hola amigos

Comment Author

Keiko Chiemy Igna...

Tuesday, 13th December, 2011

Disculpen la tardanza en contestar, justamente el día viernes 09 de diciembre, hemos desarrollado nuestra feria educativa anual, EXPOTIC BOLIVIA 2011, donde los maestros muestran su capacidad para desarrollar materiales digitales educativos con contenidos locales, además de las metodologías de integración efectiva de las TIC en el aula. Por otro lado los estudiantes muestran sus habilidades, destrezas y aprendizaje adquiridos. Les comento esto porque para el tema del cual estamos hablando me parece fundamental sensibilizar y motivar a la sociedad en general.
Retomando la discusión, me parece que Joel lo ha planteado bastante bien. La sostenibilidad no es solo económica, se debe lograr la sostenibilidad social y humana del proyecto. En nuestro caso involucrando desde el inicio a los padres de familia, los maestros, estudiantes, directores, autoridades, comunidad, para que ellos poco a poco se vayan empoderando de los telecentros o gabinetes de computación.
Nosotros trabajamos con escuelitas rurales, donde la mayoría de los padres son agricultores o se dedican a la crianza de animales, y quizás al igual de lo que alguien comento, no se ven muy interesados en la formación académica de sus hijos. Nuestra tarea s buscar las estrategias apropiadas para lograr que se involucren, por ej les comento una experiencia de hace varios años atrás, en una escuelita los padres estaban reacios a aportar económicamente, entonces junto a la directora convocamos a una asamblea de padres, los citamos en el gabinete de computación, los equipos estaban encendidos y tenían materiales interesantes respecto a agricultura, incuso en un equipo pusimos el jueguito del señor papa que utilizamos para enseñar a los niños de kínder para utilizar el ratón. Llegamos tarde a propósito, mientras tanto una mamá sin darse cuenta movió el ratón, entonces se prendió la pantalla, y así intuitivamente en grupos los papás iban investigando con temor en las computadoras, pero les atraía lo que veían. Entonces captamos su interés y ya para la reunión no estaban tan cerrados en sus opiniones. Fue más sencillo!!! Otra estrategia es aliarnos con personas clave, que tengan liderazgo, a través de ellos es más fácil llegar a todos.
Comenzamos esta experiencia hace diez años, fue más complicado esas veces, nos costaba entre 6 meses a un año empoderarlos, pero poco a poco fue más fácil porque utilizamos la experiencia de una escuela, la compartimos con otras y así fue más fácil concientizar a los padres. Ahora es mucho más rápido lograr esto, y justamente actividades como nuestra EXPOTIC, generan conciencia en la sociedad acerca de utilizar las TIC y beneficiar a los estudiantes y a través de ellos a la comunidad en general. Y reitero es importante encontrar una persona o más personas clave, mayormente es el Director quien promueve todo esto, pero a veces se identifican padres o maestros, que impulsan estos procesos.

Involving PTAs in project implementation

Comment Author

Joel Kamba Baguma

Wednesday, 7th December, 2011

Dear Anne, Keiko, Steve.
Thanks alot for the discussion on the sustainability of ICT projects in schools. Interesting!
Steve, its good you are bringing the PTAs  on board at this stage.

Anne, i agree with you asking for parents to make financial contribution straight away doesn't work and i do not think that is how it happened in Bolivia.
I managed to attend a workshop organised by IICD in Bolivia last year where Keiko also participated. During the same time i visited a number of schools (primary and secondary schools) but the achievements in ICT integration were amazing. of course i was eager to know how they are doing it........
on discussing with a number of headteachers, i realize that it all begins with social sustainability.
 once the community you intend to work with understands the objective of the project and the value it adds to the target groups, implementation will be a walk over and other sustainability(economic and human) will automatically be achieved. but the only challenge is that achieving social sustainability to a level ready for implementation of a project could take even take half of the project life which may sound unrealistic to the funders.

Recently, i have come to realise that PTA is one of the big sources of funds in schools but leadership in a school matters. if the headteacher/principal, department heads do not understand the value of ICT in a school, there will not be a budget allocation for it.
For example at CfSU we are implementing ICT for education project in secondary schools, in one of the schools considered "champion school" the headteacher was transferred to  another school and the new headteacher informed the teachers that they were wasting alot of time in the computer lab. the teachers had moved to a level of handling their routine work using ICT which was new to the new headteacher.  So all these aspects are achieved by social sustainability.

In Bolivia, the principal is part of the committee and he/she respects the decisions of the committee because their voice develops the school including construction of buildings etc and some of the projects in Bolivia are implemented in rural communities where you would expect some parents to be stubborn about payment of fees.

May be Keiko could tell us how long it took them to achieve social sustainability.



Regards

Joel

Global School Partnership Teachers In Zambia get Accredited

Comment Author

Collardo Mweemba

Monday, 5th December, 2011

Hi all, 
 25 teachers from all parts of Zambia are currently undergoing an Education Management in Global School Partnerships at the National In-Service Teachers College in Chongwe. This involves schools that have Global Partnerships with U.K school and are best practices schools.

The British Council is sponsoring the course which has run in three one week phases that began in October. The training comes to an end this Friday and will be closed by the Minister of Education and the British Council Director. The course content is that vast to include ICTs in Education, Sustainable Development, Child Friendly Schools, Value Systems and Education, Project Management, Continuing Professional Development, Curriculum Innovation, Global Dimension In Education to name but a few.

Cheers!!!

How (and when) to involve parents

Comment Author

Anne-Marijke Podt

Monday, 5th December, 2011

Dear Steve and Keiko,
Thanks a lot for sharing this... this is a subject that certainly deserves some attention. One issue that I was wondering about, for those experienced in this: how do you create this kind of involvement from parents exactly? And when? In Kenya we will be working with pastoralist parents that are reluctant about education as it is, and that have no previous ICT experience. I can imagine that asking them for a contribution right away when the project starts, will not help with acceptance. How was this approached in Bolivia? Or what do you intend to do in Ghana? Do parents get some time to get more understanding of this new technology?
Anne

Anne, I am not sure which

Comment Author

Agbenyo John Stephen

Monday, 5th December, 2011

Anne,
I am not sure which approach we will be taking here in Ghana. For Savana Signatures, we think that for our project; Integration of ICTs into Education Project (IIEP) to be successful, we need it to be sustainable. We think that one way to do this is to get the support of Parent teacher Associations as a major stakeholder. It is to have some blueprint on how PTAs can help sustain these projects that we are organising this workshop to get our way clear. I will be sharing the outcome of the workshop on this platform.

Cheers!


Modelo de sostenibilidad en Bolivia

Comment Author

Keiko Chiemy Igna...

Friday, 2nd December, 2011

Estimado Stephen, muy buena iniciativa el taller.
Quiero comentarte que en Bolivia hemos tenido una experiencia interesante con la participación de padres de familia para lograr la sostenibilidad de los telecentros en las escuelas. De hecho este modelo implementado hace varios años, considera fundamental la participación de los padres de familia como actores principales del poceso.
Lo que nuestro modelo hace inicialmente es conformar un Comite Local de Gestión, donde participan el director, representantes de profesores, y representantes de padres de familia. Su misión es lograr la sostenibilidad económica, humana y social de los gabinetes de computación.
Cómo lo hacen?
Sostenibilidad económica: Todos los padres de familia realizan un aporte mínimo mensual, que permite cubrir los gastos básicos de funcionamiento, ej. sueldo del profesor de informática o administrador del telecentro, costos de mantenimiento o materiales. Lo que hace este comite, es elaborar un plan financiero anual, en base al cual fijan montos de aportes. De hecho la experiencia nos ha permitido ver que en muchos casos incluso les ha permitido comprar más equipos y mejorar su telecentro. Y hablamos de escuelas rurales de bajos recursos.
Sostenibilidad humana; promoviendo talleres de capacitación para todos los involucrados, profesores, estudiantes, padres de familia, comunidad.
Sostenibilidad social; involucrando a toda la comunidad desde el inicio del proyecto.
La participación de los padres es fundamental porque los líderes promueven que el resto de los padres participen y hagan dinámico el funcionamiento, así tambien es posible acordar criterios entre profesores y padres de familia.
Pienso que la mayor motivación que pueden tener es aportar para que sus hijos tengan mejores oportunidades de formación, en nuestro caso también hemos motivado su participación haciendoles un reconocimiento público en los casos donde la participación es positiva.
Así tambien un reto es encontrarse con padres que buscan algún beneficio personal y más bien quieren utilizar su participación como protagonismo. Algo que nos ha ayudado es  que nos han permitido entrar en las escuelas para asesorar, y a la vez ayudarles a crear sus propias metodologias de trabajo. durante los primeros tres años el apoyo nuestro es muy de cerca, participando incluso en las asambleas generales, pero ya despues de haber generado esa cultura son los mismos padres quienes asumen roles y promueven que este modelo siga funcionando.

Saludos y éxitos en el taller.
Keiko Ignacio
EDUCATIC BOLIVIA

Hi Keiko, How are you? its

Comment Author

Agbenyo John Stephen

Saturday, 3rd December, 2011

Hi Keiko,
How are you? its been a very long while. Thank you very much for sharing your thougths on this issue. I think that you have raised very important fundemental points that we will consider when we meet the PTAs on the 8th of December. 

I particularly like the models that you have explained; I share in your thoughts on the Economic sustainability issue where all parents make a minimum monthly contribution, which covers the basic operating costs, maintenance costs and materials.

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.

Seminar on the Role of PTAs in sustaining ICT projects in school

Comment Author

Bernadette Huizinga

Friday, 2nd December, 2011

Great Stephen,

This workshop sounds very interesting. I hope you will sharethe outcomes. Can you already share the agenda? In Malawi the PTA's also play a very important part with regard to the quality and retainment in praimary and secondary education. Nice if we can share experiences. With your permission I will soon hook you up with this Malawian project partner.

Greets!

Bernadette

Hi Bernadette, I will

Comment Author

Agbenyo John Stephen

Saturday, 3rd December, 2011

Hi Bernadette,
I will certainly share the outcome of the workshop on this platform. i think that PTAs can play a very good part in our various ICT projects, particulaly when it comes to sustainability.

I ollok forward to you hooing me up with the Malawian Project Partner. I am sure there are some experiences we can both share.

Cheers!