Consortium members invited Sander Verduijn (project leader) to visit Guatemala to gain a deeper understanding of the way they work, the reach and what has been implemented so far. Here he gives an update of his field visit: Guatemala Prospera has developed several materials for the context of Guatemala (with input from Leadership expert John Maxwell) and has been training a variety of sectors over the past few years (businesses, government, NGOs, schools etc.). Materials were also developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, ensuring a secured reach in the training program of around 25,000 teachers in Guatemala and more than 450,000 children. The focus has been “the transformation is in me” – i.e. the person, which has led to many changes in people, institutions and wider communities. Meetings during the week were held with a variety of schools (urban and rural), the vice-minister of Education, President of the Congress of Guatemala and many business leaders.
The key learning aspects of the week were the importance of ensuring an integrated focus on the person or “being” of teachers. In our programs we often jump straight to educational techniques and methodologies for teachers should to improve the quality education in their country. But in contexts of high violence, high poverty and low paid jobs where a teacher can barely make ends meet on a financial and emotional level, we need to make sure that we focus on the person behind the job. A teacher who has been transformed him/herself, is receptive to learning methodologies and techniques that help transform the children in his/her class. Another key aspect that was observed was the importance of networking and focusing on a variety of levels and sectors, and the key involvement of making the government feel included and act “on board”. This is what will ultimately lead to true systems change in a country.
At the end of the week we were able to sit around the table with various of the INCE consortium members to define clearly our next steps forward, which will include two main parallel routes: 1) Integrated certification framework with connected teacher training (focus on both the “being” and the “doing”) and 2) diagnostic survey and focus groups in all departments of the country to talk to the teachers themselves about what they value and see is needed to change teaching, education and the system. This way we combine bottom-up information with contextual integrated frameworks to develop clarity towards a transformed and high-quality education system.