School-to-School International (STS) is excited to announce a shift in Whole Child Model activities for the 2021 school year. In addition to continuing support of six schools in the Arusha District of Tanzania, STS has designated one school as our “focus school.” In 2021, STS’s Whole Child Model Focus School will be Engorika Primary School, which will receive intensified efforts that simultaneously support education, health, and engagement.
Why one focus school? By prioritizing interventions within one focus school—while continuing to support all six partner schools—STS can target resources in the most efficient manner possible. The initiation of the Whole Child Model requires a period of dialogue, planning, and piloting to identify which strategies work best in each unique context. A focus school allows STS to explore different options within Tanzania more thoroughly before scaling to other schools.
Why Engorika Primary School? The Arusha District Education Office identified Engorika Primary School for STS’s Whole Child Model Focus School due to the school’s strong leadership and the student body’s distinct needs. Engorika’s School Management Committee—consisting of the principal, teachers, and parents—has demonstrated ingenuity in addressing challenges children face in accessing school. Most notable is their organization of walking groups to help students travel safely to and from school. Such engagement suggests that school managers would be active partners to STS’s holistic approach. Additionally, and distinct among the other school in Arusha, most of the students at Engorika are Maasai and live greater distances from urban centers. Historically, this combination has resulted in lower teacher motivation and higher dropout rates throughout primary schools.
What does 2021 hold for our Focus School? STS’s work with Engorika Primary School will include:
- Inquiry: STS recently asked Engorika’s principal to identify the most pressing needs of the school and community related to education (e.g., training, materials), health (e.g., hand washing, sanitation), and engagement (e.g., parental involvement, school management). These needs will drive STS’s implementation activities.
- Joint planning & implementation: STS will consult with teachers, parents, and local officials to prioritize activities that are critical and feasible in the near term. Then, STS will work with its local partners to roll out solutions and interventions over the course of the year.
- Joint monitoring: STS will work with our partners to identify indicators of success for each intervention. Together with school officials, community members, and local partners, STS and Engorika will jointly determine the role each group can play in measuring progress.
What is happening at STS’s other partner schools in Arusha? In 2021, STS will build on the foundational reading and math interventions started in 2019-20 by providing refresher training to all teachers and principals on active teaching methods. We will also conduct coaching visits to each school to reinforce skills learned in these workshops. Later in the year, we will help teachers transition to a peer coaching model so they can provide support to one another within their own schools.
Engorika Primary School (early grade teachers left and right, head teacher in center)
Training teachers from the six Whole Child Model schools
Photo credit: The Joshua Foundation