Coaching a new generation of refugee teachers, one video at a time
Refugee teachers work in some of the most volatile and underfunded classrooms in the world. Extreme overcrowding, limited peer support, hungry students—many of whom have been removed from formal education for months, even years, while fleeing violence at home—are all formidable obstacles to promoting positive learning environments.
What makes such situations even more taxing for teachers is their limited background in education and minimal access to professional training opportunities. Many have been identified within the community as promising, trustworthy candidates, but they are not teachers by vocation.
Understandably, there is a severe gap between their ability to navigate the classroom and curricula, on the one hand, and the urgent academic and emotional needs of refugee students, on the other.
Following an important internal evaluation in 2002, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) recognized that regular professional development for teachers is the single most impactful intervention for improving education in emergency settings.
To transform the current state of refugee education, IRC has thus been providing teachers with the resources needed to help their students' learn and thrive.
Given past traumas and the exceptional adversity most students continue to face in refugee camps, IRC has sought to target the resulting physiological responses that impair brain development and inhibit learning.
Fortunately when practiced regularly, research has found that social-emotional learning, or “SEL”, can help children develop the skills needed to regulate their emotional responses, positively interact with others and better persevere in adverse situations.
But not all SEL initiatives have been equally successful and evidence shows that that ongoing support, as opposed to one-time interventions, is needed to ensure programme success. Compounding matters, robustly staffed training models equipped to provide long-term support have been too expensive to be carried out at scale.
That’s where Coach Erevu comes in, IRC’s virtual SEL coach. Each week, small groups of teachers using a shared tablet are watch his video demonstrations and rehearse the proposed activities.
Accompanying Coach Everu is an interactive, user-friendly app that prompts group reflections and discussions, while timely group quizzes encourage teachers with measurable indicators of improvement.
But to ensure that teachers have the confidence and first-hand experience needed to introduce SEL activities in class, IRC has also distributed illustrative lesson cards to reward teachers for their hard work and serve as important portable reference guides.
And to reduce teachers' worry about inadvertently interrupting other important lessons, IRC is also coordinating with school administrators to ensure a school-wide bell rings each day so that smooth and stress-free transitions into 'SEL time' can be made.
As IRC increases its efforts to better support overwhelmed refugee teachers and students in Tanzania, please join us in rolling out latest impact pilot this coming August!
Watch our elevator pitch:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:New York, NY, USA
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
Our solution's stage of development:
What makes our solution innovative:
The innovation behind IRC’s new video coaching clubs lies in its balanced delivery of human-centred design and digital learning aids.
Using an interactive app that incorporates participatory learning and video demonstrations of various social-emotional learning activities, teachers now have an easier time practicing lessons that were largely inaccessible through traditional training manuals.
Through the low-cost deployment of communal tablets and bite-sized videos, quizzes and guided discussions, IRC is helping refugee teachers improve the social-emotional wellbeing of some of the world’s most traumatized and disenfranchised students.
How technology is integral to our solution:
While the benefits of SEL for refugee students have been suggested by initial field reports, the feasibility and scale of in-person teacher training is limited.
Through developing instructional videos in partnership with local educators, IRC can achieve greater scale with less overhead, while at the same time providing culturally relevant video content.
Furthermore, in regions where conflict limits the presence of foreign aid workers, digital instruction will be even more crucial.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
The IRC’s workplan for the next 12 months will build off the most recent field-tests undertaken in Tanzania. A rigorous 3-month feasibility and acceptability pilot of the program at the Mtendeli Refugee Camp, Tanzania will commence August, 2018. Our overarching aim to answer the following question: Does Coach Erevu lead to quality implementation of social-emotional learning in the classrooms of the teachers trained? This pilot includes final program content design, and monitoring and evaluation of the program. In partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action, a final research report will be available in February, 2019.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
With low programme costs (USD 19 per teacher), our video coaching club model is well-suited to be quickly scaled up and implemented elsewhere. The major barrier at present is ensuring IRC has the evidence-base to justify this expansion and so we will be carrying out a 6-month impact pilot, after which point an immediate succession of A/B series trials are to follow. While the pilot is working with a group size of 140 teachers, the subsequent two series will aim for a test size within the range of approximately 1,500 and 5,000, respectively.
Our promotional video:
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
The countries where we currently operate:
Where we plan to expand in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
The IRC already serves as the main education provider in Tanzanian refugee camps and has worked in consultation with local teachers to develop our Coach Erevu video club programme. As a result, teachers' needs have been addressed and willingness to participate is strong.
To practically deliver the video coaching content, we equip each of our schools with a communal tablet, which allows small groups of teachers to watch the offline videos together and complete quizzes on our interactive app.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
We are currently preparing to test the Coach Erevu video coaching club model with 140 teachers at the Mtendeli Refugee Camp in Tanzania. We will be supporting them by providing communal tablets, illustrative lesson cards, and by revising school timetables to include designated SEL time.
To make sure that adverse effects do not emerge, teachers will have ongoing access to the appropriate channels for voicing complaints, concerns, and withdrawing consent. However, given the feedback received during prototyping, teachers have been largely encouraged by apparent improvements in their students' wellbeing, social behaviours and academic performance.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
Our current pilot serves 140 Burundian refugee teachers in Tanzania. Pending the M&E results of this study, we will be looking to increase our reach to roughly 1,500 teachers by the close of 2019 and 5,000 by 2021. For the pilot to be considered successful it will need to show positive feedback from interviews and classroom observation, while language, math and reading scores will also be assessed and compared with a control group. We have strong expectations that this pilot will work because it is based on promising and extensive prototypes already carried out with teachers from this subject population.
How our solution team is organized:
Explaining our organization:
How many people work on our solution team:
How many years we have been working on our solution:
Less than 1 year
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
IRC's Coach Erevu team draws on the expertise of innovation design leads, whose creative insights have driven the development of this program model. But what makes the Coach Erevu project most likely to succeed is the fact that our 'clients' are also a huge part of our team. The video coaching clubs are learner driven, just as the recorded video content is led by local actors. Given the high level of local ownership, we feel our team is well disposed to leave an enduring impact on the state of refugee teacher training programs in Tanzania and beyond.
Our revenue model:
International Rescue Committee, Inc. (IRC) is a private, not-for-profit organization that serves refugees and communities victimized by oppression or violent conflict worldwide. IRC's net assists are compromised of unrestricted and restricted donor funds, as well as grants and contracts meted about by private foundations and various different levels of governments.
The financial sustainability of IRC's operations is, in part, guaranteed by its board of directors' provision of a long-term fund to maintain its protracted relief efforts whilst still being prepared to respond to extraordinary emergency needs. The purpose of this fund is to provide a mechanism for the board of directors to set aside and invest certain funds. Accordingly, the board has designated the Leo Cherne Emergency Fund, certain unrestricted bequests and portions of unrestricted surpluses in operating funds for this purpose.
In further support of the long-term financial stability of the organization, IRC receives donations for which the principal must be permanently maintained. Included in this category are endowment donations and emergency funds that allow IRC to use principal on a temporary basis for emergency response situations and to preposition itself with commonly used emergency response inventory. Principal used by IRC must be subsequently returned to the fund.
Why we are applying to Solve:
We are interested in collaborating with other Solve innovators who also share our commitment to providing education services in urgent contexts.
To have any chance of reaching UNESCO’s ambitious sustainable development goal for education, the most impactful resources must be mobilized through cross-organization teamwork.
Although we have the capacity needed to carry out our August impact pilot, further software, hardware, and M&E partnerships will be imperative if an impactful pathway to scale is to be achieved.
On another note, Solve’s adjudicative feedback will be valuable in its own right and help to strengthen IRC’s current design plans.
The key barriers for our solution:
While the initial round of testing in Tanzania has proved promising, shortages in quality refugee teacher training remains a global problem. As Solve's challenge prompt mentions, 61 million refugee educators stand in need of our support.
By joining the Solve team, IRC hopes to establish more diverse and far-reaching teacher training programmes that will allow our current innovations to become the leading conventions of tomorrow.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers: