As a child in school, I often took for granted the detailed, strategic activities my teachers put together to encourage my academic development. Now working for an organization that is serving children through its Education Finance program, I realize just how critical those thoughtful curriculums are. And also, how many children’s educations are suffering without them.
At Opportunity, we recognize one of the ways children are engaged in the classroom is through Teaching and Learning Materials (TLM) and as part of our initiative to improve the quality of children’s educations, we work with educators to make them as strong as possible for their students.
Victory Land Academy in Ghana, who is participating in Opportunity’s Education Quality initiative and recently won honorable mention at the EduQuality Awards, saw this partnership as an opportunity to get imaginative and develop resources without significant expenses. Many schools comment on how much they value the training they receive from Opportunity and the innovative ways they can develop TLMs, so I was excited to see how Great Victory Land Academy put these learnings to work!
But first, some background on the school. Over the years, teachers at Victory Land Academy have been using very few TLMs. They were limited to textbooks, whiteboards, and markers. Theoretically, these resources should be bought by the school. However, the cost of purchasing additional items can be extremely expensive—leaving many to “make do” with what is available or go without these resources altogether.
Encouraged by the training they had received through Opportunity, the teachers were determined to produce materials using low-cost resources and items already available in their local area (even repurposing items that otherwise would be thrown away!). They knew their students better than anyone and knew how important it would be to target different types of learners, such as visual or auditory; with that in mind, they set out to design interactive methods to improve comprehension and retention.
Let me stop and say: it is incredible to hear from schools how they take the knowledge and training from Opportunity and apply it to the challenges facing their students, parents, and communities. In this case, Victory Land Academy assembled a team of industrious teachers who were willing to learn and do things differently. They watched videos from Opportunity and attended teacher meetings where they could share ideas and learnings. One of the teachers, Hagar Frimpomaa, even visited other schools for inspiration and then shared back about the great work she saw and how they could draft off those learnings.
They made a plan—scheduling time to work together and reserve days for bringing their goals to fruition. This team of devoted teachers was motivated and enthusiastic, and with support from the school director, they were encouraged to make as many materials as they could.
By partnering with Opportunity, they joined a school cluster where they could brainstorm best practices with other local educators. Collaboration proved to be key in this project—not only between the teachers at Great Victory Land school but among the schools in their cluster who understood the importance of sharing their successes to improve education for as many students as possible.
How did everything turn out once these new elements were added to the classroom? Take a look at the great materials for yourself! The biggest testament to their efforts is that the school has seen improved attendance and significant progress in their students’ results! They are the very definition of perseverance and ingenuity, all for the end goal of better serving their students and better equipping them to break the cycle of poverty in their families in the coming years.
I am overwhelmed with appreciation and awe for teachers like this who do everything in their power to make creative learning accessible for their students. Knowing that Great Victory Land Academy is just one of the over 1,000 schools working to improve education quality in Africa and Latin America, I can't wait to see what is next for these students.