St. Vincent Cooperative Bank partners with UK-SVG Friends for SVG relief efforts

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Cross-posted from https://uksvgfriends.org/.

The UK-SVG Friendship Trust has teamed up with the St. Vincent Cooperative Bank as its local partner to assure the framework for the disbursement of its EC$ 800,000 La Soufriere Volcanic Eruption Recovery Assistance Programme.

The UK based Trust has engaged the bank due to its long-standing commitment to the country as one of the oldest indigenous banks. The “penny bank” with its strong roots in local communities will act to ensure that all funds spent locally are accounted for and that the programme delivers for its intended beneficiaries.

The UK-SVG friends is comprised of over 7000 donors in the UK. Collectively, they have so far contributed more than £250,000 in a campaign launched on the GoFundMe platform which was supported by the SVG High Commission. The Fund will have three components, (1) A specific sum to be transferred to the Government’s volcanic relief fund (2) A portion to be reserved for assisting persons who were evacuated and are returning home on advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (3) Purchase of items for immediate needs for those in shelters and those staying with families or friends.

According to Chairman of trustees Cenio Lewis, “the funding framework for the programme is to provide for the relief of hardship by persons directly impacted and displaced by the La Soufriere Volcanic eruption particularly those evacuated from the red zones. The Trust is especially concerned about the plight of women, girls and persons living with disabilities and those who are otherwise at high risk.”

Lewis further indicated that “as far as practicable, the Trust intends to directly procure food and personal care items in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to boost the local economy with particular attention to small enterprises. Given the double challenge of dampened economic activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic and now the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano, we wish to do our part to keep the economy afloat as we respond to individuals in most need.”

Executive Director of the St. Vincent Cooperative Bank Mr Albert Porter has welcomed the partnership stating that “this is an interesting time in the country’s history and the bank is pleased to be playing a pivotal role in helping to bring people back on their feet in partnership with the UK-SVG Friendship Trust. The bank stands in solidarity with the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and will help to rebuild the nation in whatever way possible”

Mr. Porter also highlighted that “The St. Vincent co-operative bank is known as the peoples bank because of its good track record of accountability, trust and a people centric focus. It is because of this we can forge these types of partnerships to ensure that those who are most in need can have access to the help they deserve.

The La Soufriere volcano began erupting explosively on April 9, 2021 after months of continued effusive eruptions which began on December 27, 2020. The explosive eruptions have led to the displacement of thousands of people who live near the volcano and have significantly destroyed agriculture and infrastructure, mainly in the northern region of St. Vincent.

Please continue to follow us on our social media platforms for further updates.

Advancing evidence-based decision making in LMICs: Focus of EdTech Hub’s work

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This blog post is a cross-post from EdTech Hub‘s blog https://edtechhub.org/2021/05/07/advancing-evidence-based-decision-making-in-lmics-focus-of-edtech-hubs-work/ (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0). The blog post was written by Sara Hennessy on the 7th May 2021.

This blog sets out the Hub’s aims and approaches to identifying appropriate and effective uses of EdTech that can potentially raise learning outcomes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Research shows that EdTech offers immense potential, but sustainable and positive change at scale has largely proved elusive in practice – particularly for marginalised learners where we focus our work. 

To avoid the same pitfalls affecting many previous EdTech programmes, the first step is to take a critical perspective and try to understand why they were unsuccessful. This maximises the possibility that the Hub’s work will be effective. 

For marginalised learners, the obstacles to effective EdTech use are amplified since all kinds of technologies are disproportionately used by the most privileged learners within each LMIC (e.g. ⇡Castillo, et al., 2015; ⇡Liyanagunawardena, et al., 2013; ⇡Selwyn, 2016b). This has been especially notable in recent responses to the Covid-19 pandemic; poorer students have been less likely to access remote learning, hardware and parental support (⇡Vegas, 2020; ⇡World Bank, 2016).

So which EdTech designs and systems might lead to more effective outcomes? This blog summarises the work of EdTech Hub, a global research partnership, in supporting evidence-based decision making to tackle global challenges in education – especially the SDG4 goal of inclusive and equitable quality education for all. For more detail about the Hub’s overall strategy, see the full-length position paper by ⇡Hennessy, Jordan & Wagner (2021).

EdTech Hub’s aims and focus

EdTech Hub undertakes and collates rigorous research to improve the evidence base for using EdTech to improve education for all learners in LMICs. 

The Hub aims to:

  • Empower multiple stakeholders at the institutional, community, national, and international levels to make effective decisions by building robust evidence for how to accelerate, spread, and scale EdTech interventions that improve learning outcomes of children and young people in LMICs, with a particular emphasis on the most marginalised.
  • Identify local needs and the contextual factors influencing the impact and sustainability of EdTech initiatives at systems level, especially with reference to factors of cultural specificity and political economy.
  • Evaluate, strengthen and build a global body of research on EdTech, including raising awareness across the education sector of methodological issues, especially approaches to measuring impact and cost-effectiveness of EdTech.
  • Build a shared blueprint for accelerating growth of small-scale innovation through iterative trialling and user-centred adaptation of EdTech applications.
  • Increase demand for and uptake of EdTech research evidence in programmes by making EdTech findings actionable, available, and accessible to a wide range of stakeholders in user-friendly formats.
  • Foster a vibrant, global community of practice in EdTech across the education sector by engaging multi-disciplinary champions of change among researchers, educators, policymakers, and development partners.

In addressing these aims, the Hub strives to focus research where there are promising initiatives but evidence gaps – identified through literature review, stakeholder input and the Hub’s work to date. We specifically focus on how EdTech can most effectively be used to:

  • Adapt to the needs of diverse learners: In particular, raising learning outcomes of girls and learners marginalised by poverty, language, disability, displacement, and being out of school, and using technology for personalised learningtargeted at the learner’s own level.
  • Support teacher professional development and enhance teacher effectiveness. 
  • Strengthen educational data management, education system governance, and accountability, and improve participation in school through positive social messaging.

EdTech Hub’s approach

EdTech Hub uses various tools and approaches in combination to build and apply the evidence base in our focus areas. 

The Hub’s approach to dissemination and uptake is guided by core principles of community building, multi-stakeholder engagement, and global open access to publications and resources.

Where we work

To target the impact and increase depth of understanding, studies are being conducted and commissioned in six countries initially.

Taking the field forward

The Hub is working with and informing a variety of stakeholders, ranging from practitioners to policymakers, and we hope to learn along the way from others in the sector. We warmly welcome your inputs and partnerships as we move towards capitalising on EdTech to improve quality and equity in education. Do get in touch at hello@edtechhub.org.

5 Considerations When Using Technology for Teacher Professional Development in Low Resource Areas

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Written by OpenDevEd’s Ghislaine Tegha, Yomna El-Serafy, and Björn Haßler.

Posted on  by HundrEd.org 

The right type of teacher professional development (TPD) is one of the most effective interventions to improve student learning and wellbeing. It’s second only to Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL), though to effectively teach at the right level, TPD is needed. Even before COVID-19 brought about disruptions to schools and in-person teaching, there has been increasing interest in the potential for technology to enhance effective, sustainable, and scalable teacher professional development.

Five cross-cutting principles need to be taken into account when using technology for TPD in low-resource contexts. 

Firstly, for technology to effectively support TPD in low-resource contexts, the TPD to be supported needs to be effective TPD itself. 

That is to say, it has to support TPD practices that are demonstrably effective in low-resource settings. This includes practices such as encouraging peer interaction among teachers, developing cycles of reflection-trial-refinement, and building on what teachers already know. Unfortunately — and we cannot emphasise this enough — there is a gap between evidence and practice in teacher professional development. Without the right foundations, no amount of technology use will make teacher professional development effective. Once you have an effective model, you can then look at how to utilise technology. With a team of researchers within the EdTech Hub, we spent the last month reviewing 700+ digital tools that can support TPD. We selected effective tools and categorised them into how they support TPD. We found that some categories have a wide selection of available tools, while others don’t have dedicated tools at all. For example, while there are many tools that can be used for communication and peer interaction, there were no tools dedicated to supporting reflection-trial-refinement. This is not to say that the technology does not exist — existing technologies can be adapted and used to support even those characteristics of effective TPD where dedicated tools are lacking.

Secondly, the choice of technology has to fit the existing infrastructure.

 For example, this can include using offline tools such as Kolibri — featured in the HundrED 2021 Global Collection — in settings where access to data and connectivity is low or not existent. The Roger Federer Foundation adapted an openly licensed TPD curriculum — OER4Schools — to support unqualified teachers in Zambian community schools. Through the iAct programme, they loaded this TPD material onto offline tablets that the teachers could use in their schools. The programme reached more than 5,000 teachers within the first two years. But not everyone will be offline all of the time — in emergency settings, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) sometimes form agreements with telecommunications providers to provide data packages for teachers. The key takeaway is that if you’re designing a TPD intervention that teachers can actually benefit from, the technology you use has to fit within the currently existing technological infrastructure — as opposed to an ‘aspirational’ infrastructure that may or may not be available in the future.

Thirdly, the choice of technology has to offer sufficient incentives for teachers to want to use it, i.e., where teachers can see the benefit and will therefore be willing to learn how to use the tool if necessary. 

Too often, innovators have exciting ideas about new tools to support teachers and assume that teachers will use the tools just because they are effective and straightforward. In these cases, innovators are too often disappointed when teachers instead prefer to use the (perhaps less effective) tools that they already use in their daily lives. All too often, teachers are seen as ‘willing app testers’ when, in reality, teachers first and foremost have a duty to be effective teachers for their students. If teachers have to learn a new skill in order to use the technology or have to change their existing practices, you will need to make a convincing case for why your intended audience (teachers) should start using your tools — otherwise, you might find resistance to your innovation, ultimately leading to limited uptake for the intervention.

Fourthly, your use of technology has to be specific. Educational technology (EdTech) is not good for solving general challenges. It is good for solving specific challenges. 

For example, it’s not effective to say, “we’re going to use technology to improve TPD within this city.” Instead, think about the specific challenge with TPD and consider whether technology offers the best option to address it. Perhaps you realise there’s a challenge with teachers forming specialist Communities of Practice (CoP) because distances are too far to travel. You could use technology to bridge the distance gap by organising specialist Communities of Practice digitally, for example, over WhatsApp.

Finally, make sure the intervention can scale. Sometimes we say that we should use technology that can scale; however, in many ways, this means using technology that has already scaled. 

Equipping all the teachers in one school with a smartphone to access TPD resources might work effectively in that school, but will not scale right now, because you cannot equip each teacher with a smartphone. Consider what’s possible. For example, if you use non-smartphones, aspects of your intervention may still work.

Moreover, some interventions have used a one-tablet-per-school approach (iAct). Equipping schools with one tablet each can be much more cost-effective than equipping each teacher with a device and can lead to effective TPD outcomes. Tablets can be loaded with TPD material and used in school-based teacher learning groups to stimulate learning. In particular, we know that watching video clips of actual classroom teaching plays a significant role in stimulating reflection. Moreover, the one tablet available can be used in combination with messaging to non-smartphones, covering different aspects of the intervention.

More evidence is still needed on the effectiveness of technology-supported TPD compared with TPD delivered without technology in low-resource contexts. Still, for now, the successes of technology-enabled TPD interventions offer reason to be hopeful about the potentially enabling effects of technology. Technology-supported TPD interventions have the potential to catalyse the quality, equitability, and effectiveness of TPD in low-resource contexts. To do so, we need to ensure that the technology used:

  • supports effective pedagogic practices;
  • fits within the existing digital infrastructure;
  • matches the teachers’ levels of digital literacy;
  • addresses a specific challenge; and is scalable. 

Importantly, technology can increase equitability by supporting the most marginalised teacher in their professional development, and by reducing the gaps between teachers in more privileged and less privileged areas.

References for further reading

This bibliography is available digitally in our evidence library. All items are freely available for download.

  1. OER4Schools. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2020, from http://oer.educ.cam.ac.uk/wiki/OER4Schools. (details)
  2. Allier-Gagneur, Z., McBurnie, C., & Haßler, B. (2020). Characteristics of effective teacher education in low- and middle-income countries: a summary of evidence on teacher education (HDR10B) (EdTech Hub Helpdesk Response No. 10B). https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3873462. Available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International. (details)
  3. Evans, D. K., & Popova, A. (2016). What Really Works to Improve Learning in Developing Countries? An Analysis of Divergent Findings in Systematic Reviews [World Bank Research Observer]. The World Bank Research Observer, 31(2), 242–270. https://doi.org/10.1093/wbro/lkw004. Available from https://academic.oup.com/wbro/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/wbro/lkw004. (details)
  4. Haßler, B., Hennessy, S., & Hofmann, R. (2018). Sustaining and Scaling Pedagogic Innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Grounded Insights For Teacher Professional Development. 5(1). (details)
  5. Popova, A., Evans, D. K., Breeding, M. E., & Arancibia, V. (2018). Global Landscape of Teacher Professional Development Programs: The Gap between Evidence and Practice. Population and Development Review, 1(117), 42. (details)
  6. Roger Federer Foundation. (2018). Annual Report. Roger Federer Foundation -. https://rogerfedererfoundation.org/assets/publication/pdf/annual-reports/Roger_Federer_Foundation_Annual_Report_2018.pdf. (details)

WELCOME DONNA FRASER OBE OLY TO TEAM UK SVG Friends

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Four times Olympian for Team GB announced this week on LinkedIn that she is now an official Ambassador for the UK-SVG Friendship Trust.

As a British Vincentian, Donna will continue to use her platform to support our La Soufriere Volcanic Eruption – Recovery Assistance Programme (SVG-RAP) which aims to assist families and friends directly impacted and displaced due to the ongoing eruption.

Our team is ecstatic to work alongside this great champion!

Your donations will help to reach those in need and with Donna’s support, we will ensure that our women, young girls and those living with disabilities are given greater attention.

Remember to share our GoFundMe campaign link and find us on your favourite social media platform by searching for @uksvgfriends.

#StrongerTogether #UKSVGFriends#IdonatedtoSVG#DonatetoSVG

More donations on the ground, 40ft container shipped AND Amazon Wishlist donations. Let’s keep going!

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This week we have helped even more people on the ground including a donation of 1,500 Sanitary pad packs to the Ministry of National Mobilisation, Social Development, the Family, Gender Affairs, Youth Housing and Informal Settlement to buffer their various welfare interventions. This is on top of the 3,000 Sanitary packs and 300 food care packages distributed – you can see images in the gallery above.

But we have also sent off a Shipment from the UK this week including donations purchased by an Amazon Wish List link which was created by Mina, a member of our donor community. Mina was inspired to create the Wish List by Ava Vidal who had previously created a Wish List for another crisis. She appreciated that those wanting to donate would appreciate the ease and wanted to do her bit to ensure that St. Vincent and the Grenadines got the support it needed during this terrible time.

Mina’s Amazon Wish List generated £2,673 worth of much needed donations and the UK-SVG Friendship Trust are very grateful to her for all her efforts to raise awareness and donations for the La Soufrière Volcano Recovery Assistance Programme. You can see some of what was purchased in this video:

These donations have been shipped along with other emergency aid contributions. We would like to give a heartfelt thanks to Waypoint Shipping, SVG High Commission, Geest Line NCSVGA, volunteers, donors and fundraisers once again.

For further updates on how the funds are being spent and where your donations are going, please check our social media links here: https://linktr.ee/UKSVGFRIENDS

Please like, share and comment on our updates because we want to hear from you.

#HelpSVG #StrongerTogether #LaSoufriereEruption #UKSVGGofundme #DonatetoSVG

Using evidence to strengthen tech-supported teacher professional development in Madagascar

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Reposted from EdTech Hub. Original authors: CAITLIN MOSS COFLAN, SAALIM KOOMAR AND HASINIAVO RASOLOHERY. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

High school students in Soavinandriana, Itasy region, Madagascar, attending an educational movie projection.
Photo credit: Hasiniavo Rasolohery, 2019

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Context

Madagascar faces high levels of learning poverty; 97 per cent of the country’s children at late primary age are not proficient in reading (World Bank, 2019, based on 2015 PASEC data). We know teachers are one of the most crucial influences on student learning; in 2019, just 15% of primary school Malagasy teachers were qualified. How can these teachers be supported effectively to improve student learning? And how can this support be provided at a distance, at scale, using technology in ways that can support populations with limited connectivity?  Despite reportedly high internet speeds, internet penetration is low, just 2.1% of Malagasy people can access the internet (Quartz article, Lijadu, 2019). 

Continue reading “Using evidence to strengthen tech-supported teacher professional development in Madagascar”

L’utilisation des preuves pour renforcer la formation pédagogique à travers les technologies à Madagascar

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Cross-posted from https://edtechhub.org. Original post APRIL 23, 2021 BY CAITLIN MOSS COFLAN, SAALIM KOOMAR AND HASINIAVO RASOLOHERY. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Des lycéens de Soavinandriana, de la région Itasy, Madagascar, assistant à une séance de projection de vidéo éducative.
Crédit Photo: Hasiniavo Rasolohery, 2019

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Contexte

Madagascar fait face à un taux élevé de la pauvreté d’apprentissage; 97 pour cent des enfants en classe de primaire du pays ne sont pas capables de lire un texte en français adapté à leur âge (Banque mondiale 2019, sur données PASEC 2015). Nous savons que les enseignants ont une influence cruciale sur l’éducation des élèves; en 2019, seulement 15% des enseignants primaires Malagasy avaient la qualification nécessaire. Comment appuyer ces enseignants efficacement afin d’améliorer l’éducation des étudiants? Et comment cet appui pourrait être fourni à distance sur une grande échelle, en utilisant des technologies qui peuvent aider les communautés dont l’accès au réseau est faible? Malgré ladite éxistence de connexion à très haut débit , le faible taux de pénétration d’Internet montre que seuls 2.1% des Malagasy ont accès à Internet (Article Quartz, Lijadu, 2019).

Depuis la première incursion de EdTech Hub dans ces problèmes à travers un briefing du « Helpdesk » sur les initiatives de développement professionnel des enseignants dans les environnements à faible connectivité, nous avons travaillé avec le Ministère l’Éducation Nationale (MEN), L’Institut National de Formation Pédagogique (INFP), et la Banque Mondiale sur la première composante du Projet d’Appui à l’Education de Base pour étaler cet ensemble de défis. 16 000 enseignants de la première et deuxième année seront directement impliqués dans un pilotage de formation pédagogique (FP) dans le cadre de ce projet, afin d’améliorer les résultats des élèves en lecture et calcul. 

Continue reading “L’utilisation des preuves pour renforcer la formation pédagogique à travers les technologies à Madagascar”

Diario El País

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Taskeen Adam comments on international development projects in the latest article of ‘El País’

“Muchos proyectos se decantan por graduados en Desarrollo Internacional de universidades occidentales, menospreciando la experiencia en el contexto y otros estudios no acreditados bajo ese nombre”

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Approaching £100k

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This story has been cross-posted from https://uksvgfriends.org/2021/04/13/approaching-100k/.

Great news! We are inching closer and closer to £100,000 and with your continued support, we will get there soon.

However, we are excited that we have received official communications from the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines through the High Commission’s Office that our campaign has been officially endorsed. See photo below! This helps us to focus on what matters!

Thanks to new friends to the Trust like Björn and Gemma who reached out to us today after making a donation, we will be getting a spanking new website shortly to better communicate with you. Björn and Gemma from www.opendeved.net have volunteered their services to get this important work done.

We have heard, you want us to get this right and we promise we are in this for the long haul. #forMother Hairouna!

Sierra Leone series: Plan International and the importance of community support for distance teacher professional development programmes

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BY ARTHUR SAIDU, EUSEBIO RINCON CASADO, MAGGIE SHERGILL AND CHRIS MCBURNIE

Cross-posted from the EdTech Hub – Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Photo credit: Plan International

Over the past few months, the EdTech Hub team has analysed and mapped the EdTech research landscape in Sierra Leone. In doing so, we have met a number of individuals and organisations that are exploring if and how technology can support the country’s education sector. 

In week four, we met with Arthur Saidu, Eusebio Rincon Casado and Maggie Shergill from Plan International. In Sierra Leone, Plan International has led the implementation of the Girls’ Access to Education (GATE) programme with funding from UK Aid through the Girls’ Education Challenge. In this interview, we spoke about their work to deliver a distance teacher professional development programme to women in remote areas.

Can you tell us more about the background of your programme? 

Schools in rural areas of Sierra Leone often struggle to find a sufficient number of trained and qualified female teachers. In 2013, we launched a programme for young women in rural communities who aspired to teach yet lacked the qualifications to enrol in existing teacher education courses. The programme supported these women to gain experience of working in a school environment and prepared them to take the entrance exam for teacher training colleges. 

During the programme, participating women worked as learning assistants in a local primary school for four days each week. On the fifth day, the women met with 15 to 18 other participants to receive coaching from an English and a maths tutor. Once the participating women passed the entrance exam, they continued to work in primary schools but now as student teachers. In this phase of the programme, a mentor provided the women support with classroom practice and their college studies for one day a week. 

A key component of the programme was the development of learning teams to support the women within the school and the community: participants worked with teachers, principals, district supervisors, tutors, mentors, community stakeholders and lecturers from teacher training colleges. In addition, each participant received a tablet to access a set of interactive learning modules for self-study.

What research has been conducted on this programme? 

In 2017, the Open University, who developed the learning assistant / student teacher distance learning model, conducted a study to identify the factors that enabled or constrained the success of the programme. In doing so, they adopted an ecological approach to look at the role of community support as well as the impact of programme participation. For the study, the Open University team conducted 18 semi-structured interviews in a rural township and a remote agricultural community in two districts. Interviewees included the participating women, principals, teachers, tutors, family members, community leaders and programme staff.

What are the key takeaways from this programme?

By March 2019, 711 out of 730 learning assistants had already passed the exam to enrol in teacher training college and became student teachers. Through research interviews and programme monitoring, participants stated that the programme had a transformative effect on their self-confidence, self-esteem, professional skills and willingness to engage in new experiences.

We found that the tablets were valuable in supporting a distance learning model as we could upload all of the self-study modules and materials to one device. For example, we could cascade knowledge on topics such as inclusive education and gender-sensitive pedagogies and disseminate a disability directory. However, it was a major logistical challenge to add new content if modules were changed or introduced after tablets were distributed to participants. Once this digital offering broke down, participants had to revert to paper-based materials.

Participating women also noted that the blend of work, group meetings and self-study demanded strong time management skills. Participants needed to teach in the day, study at night and complete any domestic tasks in between these activities.

The commitment of the local community to supporting the women’s participation was integral to the success of the programme. Tutors and mentors sometimes provided food at group meetings and paid transport to the venue. Headteachers often allowed women to bring babies to school and to teach when pregnant. And, family members looked after young children whose mothers were studying.

What advice do you want to share with decision-makers based on your research? 

Tablets and technology represent one enabling factor that can make distance teacher professional development programmes possible in remote areas of Sierra Leone. Yet, these programmes require a phenomenal amount of community support. Decision- makers need to go beyond the digital to invest in the full package of human support to ensure this type of initiative can come to fruition.

If you want to learn more about this programme, you can read Open University’s evaluation, check out the Education Commission’s blog post on learning teams in Sierra Leone or test out modules from the programme for yourself.