Philippines Remote Learning Study Report

In June 2020 the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd) adopted the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP), a framework to guide the 2020–2021 school year in light of school closures that started in March 2020, during the final weeks of the 2019–2020 school year. The plan introduced an adjusted and condensed curriculum, the Most Essential Learning Competencies, to support schools and teachers in delivering learning through alternative modalities in lieu of face to face classes. DepEd also modified the 2020–2021 school calendar to start October 5, 2020, and end in June 2021. The school year typically runs from June through March in the Philippines, but regions, divisions, and schools needed additional time to prepare and operationalize the BE-LCP. For example, regions were tasked with determining appropriate remote learning1 delivery modalities based on local context. Approaches were further adapted and defined at the individual school level as schools contextualized the learning continuity plan. Given DepEd’s decentralized approach to contextualizing and ensuring learning continuity for learners, it became clear that remote learning would look vastly different across regions, divisions, and within schools. Subsequently, this mixed-methods study was designed to take an in-depth look at schools and families across the country to understand their experiences with teaching and learning during school closures—and particularly to understand how early language and literacy learning can best be supported in the distance learning context.

Strengthening institutional capacity to produce learning at scale: Case studies from Jordan, Malawi, Nepal, and Uganda

Case studies of RTI's work on strengthening institutional capacity in Nepal, Jordan, Malawi, and Uganda focusing on three core functions: (1) setting and communicating expectations; (2) monitoring against expectations; (3) providing targeted support to struggling schools.

Agent-based modeling: Understanding influence of teacher-student interactions on learning and equity [CIES Presentation]

“Agent based modeling: A method for understanding individual, social, and environmental influences on learning and equality in the classroom.” Learning science in the past decade has provided considerable evidence that learning is at once emotional, social, and cognitive (MH Immordino-Yang, et al 2018). As we seek to improve social, emotional and learning outcomes in schools around the world, it is important to better understand how individuals adapt to and influence each other and their environments as they connect and interact daily in and outside the school and classroom. Furthermore, it is important to develop a better sense of how local interactions shape education. How do individual interactions shape the patterns of learning outcomes in a school or at a larger scale such as a district? How do they shape the nature of the learning environment and in turn, how do differential learning environments shape the patterns of interactions and relationships in a school? This information holds enormous potential to inform international education programming that may hold promise for improved uptake of innovations and education outcomes. How interactions locally shape education – in schools, administrative offices, or higher education institutions – is not well understood or studied extensively. Agent-based modeling (ABM) is a technique that can be applied to better understand the link between local dynamics of individuals in a school or community and certain aggregate characteristics of a school or emerging school changes. ABMs are based on the application of algorithms or simple rules representing the lower-level interactions of individuals (or system components) that give rise to higher level system structures or changes, providing a tool to understand bottom-up influences on education outcomes. (See M Macy & R Willer, 2002; M Jacobson, et al, 2017). In this presentation we present an agent-based model to show the potential impact of teacher feedback on student participation in the classroom and the relative impact of students who are more or less vulnerable (e.g., have lower/higher ability levels and are from more/less marginalized backgrounds). The model was informed by student data from primary schools in Uganda and Tanzania. The model demonstrates that over time, when met with repeated experiences of negative feedback, more and more students will quit participating entirely and some will dropout, especially children who are more vulnerable. On the other hand, when teachers are increasingly positive, more and more students participate more actively, even among the most vulnerable children. Thus, the nature of teachers’ responses to students when they answer questions in class can powerfully impact student participation and shape equality in participation. To extend, this would seem to impact student learning. The objectives of this presentation are: 1. To introduce the agent-based modeling method. 2. To present an application of ABM in international education 3. To demonstrate the utility of ABM in research, policy dialogue, and programming.

Teacher well-being as a critical element to success of remote learning during the pandemic [Presentation]

This presentation describes findings from a study of the remote learning experience of school actors; school heads, teachers, parents and other HLPs, and learners during the first year of COVID-19 school closures in the Philippines. The focus of this presentation is only on one aspect of remote learning and that is how teacher well-being supported the success of schools in their pivot to remote learning. This presentation was delivered at the 2022 CIES Conference.

Remote Learning in the Philippines During COVID [Briefs Series]

The Remote Learning Study was conducted during the 2020–2021 school year to investigate how mother-tongue-based multilingual education reading instruction proceeded in 20 schools around the country while classrooms were closed. The school head, 2 teachers, and 4 home learning partners from each school in Grades 1 and 3 were interviewed to gain insights on school administration, teaching and learning, and the home environment. Data was collected at three time points—November, March and June—from 20 school heads, 37 teachers of and 79 parents. Not all respondents were available at each time point. No parents were interviewed in November as recruitment was still underway. Children were also asked to fill out a literacy assessment worksheet, but very few parents returned this worksheet at each occasion. These briefs describe essential themes that emerged from this activity. #1 - Strategies for Assisting Home Learning Partners, #2 - Use of Teaching and Learning Materials, #3 - Use of Technology, #4 - Student Engagement Strategies, #5 - Challenges and Solutions to Remote Learning, #6 - School Leadership, #7 - Literacy Instructional Practice.

Uganda LARA: Journeys Impact Quantitative Assessment instruments

Survey of Perceptions of School Climate: A positive school climate is friendly, inviting and supportive; pupils feel safe and are treated fairly, by their peers and the school staff. A school that struggles to maintain a positive school climate often creates an environment that discourages students from attending. In the Survey of Perceptions of School Climate, respondents are asked about statements describing different dimensions of school life and must answer according to their perception of whether it is true or not for their school. For example, pupils and teachers were asked statements, such “In this school, teachers treat boys and girls equally,” “In this school, violence is a problem,” or “In this school, pupils are punished too much for little things.” The survey is composed of 29 school climate statements that are used to assess pupils and the school staff perceptions of the climate for their school. Using a staged approach, respondents are initially asked if they “agreed” or “disagreed” that the statement read to them was true for their school. The respondent could either respond verbally or point to the appropriate response card (response cards are appended to the tool). Once they selected the first response, they were then asked if they “agreed,” “strongly agreed,” “disagreed,” or “strongly disagreed” with the statement. This staged approach was introduced to encourage increased variation in the responses. The data collectors display only the two appropriate cards (“agreed” or “disagreed”) for the initial step and then only the two cards (e.g., Agree and Strongly Agree or Disagree and Strongly Disagree) for the second step. The data collectors record only the final answer. Students’ Experience of SRGBV Survey: The Survey of Pupil Experiences of SRGBV assesses the extent that a pupil experiences the three different forms of SRGBV: (1) bullying, (2) corporal punishment, and (3) sexual harassment and assault. The subject of violence against pupils is a sensitive topic and it can be difficult for a child to respond to a survey that asks him or her to recollect and report on violent experiences. Due to the sensitive nature of this survey, it is critical that the survey administrator develop a safe and trusting environment for collecting data. To this end, the set of questions for each subscale (i.e., bullying, corporal punishment, and sexual violence) is preceded by an ice-breaker activity. An icebreaker story is read to the pupil and a brief informal discussion about the topic takes place before the survey questions are administered. This is extremely helpful in assisting the pupils to understand, in advance, what the questions are about and to enhance their comfort during the session. After the rapport building session for each subscale, pupils are asked to think about different specific acts of violence related to the subscale and to report how many times they experienced each act of violence during the school term. Pupils could either respond verbally or point to the appropriate response card (response cards are appended to the tool). The response options are “Never”, “Once”, “A few times” and “Many times”. Gender Attitudes Survey: Gender discriminating norms, combined with the hierarchical power structures that reinforce these norms, are some of the root causes of SRGBV and enable all forms of SRGBV to go unchecked in and around schools. The eventual goal of eliminating SRGBV requires a shift in gender attitudes to be more favorable toward gender equity and toward more balanced power relations. The Gender Attitudes Survey provides a mechanism to track changes in gender attitudes as a result of the Journeys intervention. Pupils, school staff and parents/guardians can participate in the Gender Attitudes Survey. Respondents are asked if they agree or disagree with different statements that reflect common gender roles and stereotypes, including gendered behavior traits, such as “boys should not cry” and “girls should be quiet and shy,” gender roles, such as “women should not disagree with their husbands,” gendered education expectations for boys and girls, such as “it is more important for boys than girls to perform well in school,” and hierarchical power structures reinforcing male aggression against women, such as “there are times when it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife.” The survey is composed of 14 gender norms statements that are used to assess the attitudes of pupils, school staff and parents. Using a staged approach, respondents are initially asked if they “agreed” or “disagreed” that the statement read was true for them. The respondent could either respond verbally or point to the appropriate response card (response cards are appended to the tool). Once they selected the first response, they were then asked if they “agreed,” “strongly agreed,” “disagreed,” or “strongly disagreed” with the statement. This staged approach was introduced to encourage increased variation in the responses. The data collectors display only the two appropriate cards (“agreed” or “disagreed”) for the initial step and then only the two cards (e.g., Agree and Strongly Agree or Disagree and Strongly Disagree) for the second step. The data collectors record only the final answer. Student SEL Survey: The Student SEL Survey was designed to track the benefits of the Journeys for Pupils component of the integrated three-component Journeys intervention (i.e. Journeys for Pupils, Journeys for School Staff and Journeys for Community Members). Journeys for Pupils is aimed at strengthening pupils’ social and emotional skills. At the same time, the program provides exposure to content that promotes a consciousness about contributing to a positive school culture and climate and preventing SRGBV. This survey was not meant to comprehensively assess all aspects of SEL, but rather to assess the social and emotional skills that best serve pupils’ ability to successfully navigate their world, avoid violence, and seek assistance when they do witness or experience violence. In this survey, pupils are asked to listen to a variety of statements depicting different behaviors representing certain social skills. For each statement pupils are asked to think about how true this is for them. They are asked (and trained with practice items) to either respond verbally or point to the appropriate response card (response cards are appended to the tool). The response choices are “Never True for Me”, “Rarely True for Me”, “Sometimes True for Me”, and “Always True for Me”. Demographics and Family Wealth Survey: The Demographics and Family Wealth Survey includes a set of questions that focus on the pupil’s home environment to better understand and control for socioeconomic factors when analyzing the impact of the Journeys intervention. Pupils are asked whether they have a variety of household items in the home, their water source, source of heat for cooking, and sanitary facilities. A stimuli with pictures to aid pupils identify the appropriate items is appended to the survey.

Uganda/LARA: Journeys Impact Qualitative Assessment instruments

LARA developed a set of qualitative tools to learn about the successes and challenges related to the implementation of Journeys and to understand what changes staff and pupils had observed since Journeys started in the program schools. The qualitative tools include individual interviews and focus group discussion (FGD) guides with head teachers, teaching and non-teaching staff, change agents and students. There are two individual interviews, one for the teachers and another for the head teachers. The individual interview for teachers investigates the value the Journeys program has brought to the teachers personally, to the school and the classroom, for example changes in the way teachers relate and interact with pupils and changes in disciplinary practices at the school. The individual interview for head teachers on the other hand investigate what has gone well and what the head teachers are struggling with regarding the implementation of Journeys for School Staff and Journeys for Pupils (the Uganda Kids Unite [UKU] Program). There are three FGD guides; (i) FGD guide for teaching and non-teaching staff provides information about the changes (for example interactions among students, teacher attendance, extent of SRGBV) in the school as a result of Journeys, initiatives undertaken by the school to make the school safe and positive and how the initiatives improved the school and/or reduced violence; (ii) FGD guide for head Teachers and school change agents (SCA) that gathers feedback on the successes and challenges associated with the implementation of Journeys program for the school staff and Journeys program for pupils as well as improvements needed to for the continuity of the Journeys program in the schools; and (iii) FGD guide for students that focuses mainly on what pupils enjoyed most about the UKU program and the specific UKU activities they loved. It also asks about what pupils did not enjoy in the UKU meetings, initiatives that UKU teams developed to improve the school, what pupils learned through the UKU program and how the school and classroom have changed since Journeys began.

Supporting SEL in Uganda Primary Schools: What have we learned after one year.

This presentation summarizes the findings from Occasion 2 of the Uganda/Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity longitudinal study of the impact of the Journeys intervention that aims to reduce SRGBV, strengthen student's SEL, and improve school climate. The presentation focuses on qualitative findings. According to these findings, both teacher and pupil social and emotional competencies are strengthened in schools participating in Journeys. Teachers interact with their peers more often than in the past and their relationships with their pupils are more welcoming and positive. The prevalence of corporal punishment has declined. Pupils are free to open up to their teachers, report issues they encounter in school and express themselves more in the classroom. Pupil relationships have improved, resulting in less bullying and fighting on the school grounds.

The central role of school culture and climate in fostering social and emotional learning: Evidence from Malawi and Uganda

The central role that the school and classroom environment or ‘school climate’ plays in social and emotional learning (SEL) is well documented, albeit mostly from US-based studies. RTI International sought to understand how schools in Malawi and Uganda organized themselves to provide positive and supportive places for children to learn and to develop socially and emotionally. The narratives captured in this study help explain how teacher behaviors and school culture serve to nurture social and emotional (SE) skills. Teachers, students, parents, and school management committee (SMC) members discussed the importance of teacher encouragement, friendliness and approachability, appreciation, understanding of and listening to student viewpoints, and modeling of cooperative teacher–teacher interactions to support SEL. School qualities identified as important for SEL included cooperation, student clubs and sports, a violence-free environment, freedom of expression, and commitment to equality. The findings yield insights into what schools can do to develop a culture of SEL, in and outside the classroom.

The Journeys approach to building a safe, inclusive and positive school and fostering social and emotional learning

Certain conditions of the school and classroom environment—such as encouraging and appreciative classrooms, physical and emotional safety and responsiveness to diversity, among others—positively support students’ social and emotional learning (SEL). Therefore, SEL programming that provides both instruction to students and also serves to establish the school and classroom conditions that support SEL are recommended—that is, blended approaches. With funding from USAID/Uganda under the Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity, RTI International, in partnership with the Uganda Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), developed a blended approach to SEL programming, which is the Journeys approach. The Journeys approach involves co-curricular activities that serve to directly strengthen students’ social and emotional (SE) skills. At the same time, it inspires and guides school staff and community members in establishing the learning conditions that foster SEL. The Journeys activities for students, school staff and community members apply a variety of awareness-building social technologies—such as guided reflection, dialogue, interactive games, and art and drama—to enable independent thinking about the nature and obstacles to a positive school climate and how to establish classrooms and out-of-classroom environments that foster SEL.

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