Communities, Schools Buy-in to COMPASS Teacher Training

February 29, 2008


Having witnessed the qualitative impact of COMPASS’ teacher training program in Nigeria’s primary schools, communities and teachers outside of the project’s target areas are replicating COMPASS best practices at their own expense.

The Community Participation for Action in the Social Sector (COMPASS) project, provides face-to-face teacher training popularly known as Professional Development Days (PDDs) as well as Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) to improve the quality of classroom instruction across three Nigerian states: Lagos, Kano and Nasarawa.

The interventions aim to improve teachers’ pedagogical skills, help establish foundations for an improved and healthy learning environment and increase pupil achievement, especially in literacy and numeracy, and girls’ enrollment.

“COMPASS has provided the bearing for us to find our way into the future and we shall do just that,” said Kokona Local Government Area’s (LGA) Education Secretary, Ezekiel Wakayi, in Nasarawa state. “Our teachers, parents and other community members are ready for this journey.”

COMPASS works in 265 Nasarawa schools spread across seven local governments. The authorities of Kokona LGA, where COMPASS operates in 26 out of 52 schools, believe that the COMPASS in-service teacher training strategies will help Nigeria meet the Millennium Development Goals of achieving Education For All through the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Program by 2015.

“An African proverb says ‘Gold is sold to one who appreciates it.’ The expressions of administrators, teachers, community leaders and Faith-Based Organizations about COMPASS’ in-service training programs, are true testimonies of the program that is worth their investment,” said Ayo Oladini, COMPASS Senior Education Advisor. “Having been a trained teacher in the primary school in Nigeria, the COMPASS teacher training program is excellent for enhancing pedagogical competence of primary school teachers to becoming mentors to their pupils.”

To ensure higher educational standards in Kokona, the local government provided funding to the Education Department for the training of 307 additional teachers to non-COMPASS affiliated schools. In addition, the local government procured 35 sets of radios for the administration of IRI, so that no school or pupil would be left out from this key component of the COMPASS Basic Education Interventions.

“The method of teaching adopted in the IRI, which is broadcast from the Nasarawa Broadcasting Service, is quite novel and straightforward,” says Chairman of Kokona’s LGA, Solomon Ngharghun. “The IRI program – spiced with health talks – is highly educating. I felt my teachers should benefit from this new method.”

Ngharghun’s enthusiasm for COMPASS prompted him to provide 26 public non-COMPASS Kokona schools with radios and teacher training. “It is only in adopting the COMPASS approach that our teachers will contribute meaningfully to scaling up the expected standard to meet up with the expected goals of education for our children,” he said.

After meeting COMPASS staff on an advocacy trip, Ngharghun saw it as a personal challenge to engage them in training teachers not affiliated with the program and directed the Local Government Education Authority’s collaboration with COMPASS. “My experience at the training made me feel like going back to the classroom to teach,” he said.

The community buy-in to COMPASS’ training interventions is not unique to Nasawara state.

In Lagos state, the project works with 530 public and Islamiyya schools, including two Ansar Ud Deen Society (ADS) primary schools. The ADS of Nigeria is a Muslim faith-based organization which is committed to providing quality education in 11 primary schools. After two of its schools received training from COMPASS, the organization requested that another seven of their non-affiliated COMPASS schools also receive the project’s teacher-training interventions.

According to an Ansar Ud Deen teacher, Alhaji Gbadamosi Suleiman: “The training was innovative and revitalizing.” He noted that though he has taught for 44 years, he learned that “teaching should be pupil-centered which was not what we were used to.”

A five-year project, COMPASS works in partnership with the Nigerian government and is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It is implemented by a dynamic nine-member team which includes four Nigerian partner organizations and five U.S.-based partners.

As an implementing partner, Creative Associates provides technical assistance in primary education and school health and mobilizes Parent Teacher Associations to improve school infrastructure and develop instructional materials. Since early 2005, COMPASS has trained approximately 19,000 teachers through face-to-face interaction as well as on the radio and this has impacted the education and health of more than one half million pupils.

After a series of planning meetings with the COMPASS team, 68 ADS teachers from seven non-COMPASS affiliated schools in Lagos were trained in a two-day workshop on IRI Facilitation Skills, 3P’s (Presentation, Practice, and Performance ) and Cooperative Learning using the COMPASS training manuals. With funding and logistical support from The ADS Education Committee, the training was facilitated by the COMPASS trainers in five clusters last September.

Given the training’s success with teachers, one ADS school requested further training for an additional 25 teachers in literacy and numeracy strategies for two more days in September.

“The IRI program is highly motivating to students, both the teachers and pupils have learned from it. It has brought variety into our classrooms,” Suleiman said. “We are thirsty for more of the strategies COMPASS has taught us. COMPASS has rejuvenated our teachers.”

—Swadchet Sankey in Nigeria and Alexandra Pratt in Washington, D.C.

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