Remote Learning in the Philippines During COVID [Briefs Series]

COMING SOON! Check back here to download the 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.

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.

School Culture and Climate (and Love) Matter: Voices from Malawi and Uganda [CIES 2019 Presentation]

This study sought to identify the factors in the organizational culture and environment of a small sample primary schools in Malawi and Uganda that make them more (or less) conducive to children’s social and emotional development. The research team postulated that social and emotional learning are not products of the implementation of an “SEL” curriculum, but rather are inherently dependent on and result from the nature of the school climate.

What's Positive About Positive Schools: Lessons from Malawi and Uganda [CIES 2019 Presentation]

RTI conducted a small pilot study in Malawi and Uganda to identify the factors in the organizational culture and environment of primary schools that make them more (or less) conducive to children’s social and emotional development. The research team postulated that social and emotional learning are not products of the implementation of an “SEL” curriculum, but rather are inherently dependent on and result from the nature of the school climate.

The intersection of violence and social and emotional learning: implications for equity- CIES 2018 Presentation

CIES 2018 Presentation, given by Elizabeth Randolph. This presentation explores the role that students’ perceptions about school life, social and emotional skills, and agency play in mediating violence in education settings. We posit that these individual factors are important entry points for reducing the increased risk of violence associated with poverty, ethnicity or gender. This presentation draws from data from USAID/Uganda Literacy Achievement and Retention Activity that highlights certain student perceptions about the unequal treatment of vulnerable children (e.g., children living in poverty, orphans and children with disabilities) in schools, drawing from baseline data from 216 schools and 4835 Grade 3 and Grade 5 learners. Finally, data on student agency related to violence - that is, their ability to navigate their world to avoid, challenge and seek assistance when facing violence - will be reviewed, with an aim to inform future programming to reduce the risk of violence, especially for the most vulnerable learners.

Attitudes on gender norms in the school and home in Uganda- CIES 2018 Presentation

CIES 2018 Presentation, given by Elizabeth Randolph. The different expectations that are held for boys and girls related to obtaining an education and performing in school can differentially impact access and learning outcomes for both boys and girls. Yet there is a much larger set of cultural norms that either directly or indirectly impact equity in education, including: gender norms and power relations that produce violence against children in schools; exposure to models of inequality and domestic violence in the home; and differential competing demands of school and work for boys and girls, among others. These attitudinal factors are exacerbated by individual risks associated with poverty, disability, orphan status, and being in a minority. In order to unpack these norms and identify entry points for shifting norms toward more equality, it is important to understand in which sub-populations these attitudes are strongest and where the ‘cracks’ are that can be leveraged to shift belief systems that are unfavorable for education equity. Findings from Uganda will be presented that demonstrate that the attitudes of primary school students, parents, and school staff are very often different. The implications of these data for programming that supports more egalitarian attitudes and equality in education for all children will be discussed.

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