By Charlie Satow and Olivia Harris
This year EPAfrica used a tool called the Most Significant Change technique to help evaluate the impact of our work in rural secondary schools in East Africa. This involved Project Workers writing accounts of the Most Significant Change they perceived at their school as a result of their investments and implemented programmes. These stories were then reviewed by a series of panels made up of EPAfrica volunteers and the story given below was chosen as illustrating the most significant change of the summer. It was selected for three main reasons:
- The initiative involved Project Workers planning and implementing a series of practical steps to address a problem that money alone would not have solved without the addition of their problem solving skills.
- The initiative that was implemented brought about positive changes in many areas of students’ lives, all of which will contribute to improved learning.
- The initiative is sustainable
I think the most significant change which has occurred within the school in our time here has been to do with the boarding facilities. The facilities were virtually non-existent when we arrived; girls were sleeping on the floor in the library and boys were sleeping on the floor in a room. Since arriving we have plastered a room for the girls, put electricity into the boys and girls room, fixed the windows in the girls and boys rooms, painted both rooms so they actually look liveable in, and got the girls and boys beds. I think this has made a significant change to the school for a number of reasons.
Firstly, both me and my project partner felt quite passionately that it wasn’t right for the these students to be living in such horrible conditions and hence improving quality of life for the students was important to us.
Secondly, we also were passionate about making sure our investments are sustainable. The school had numerous more students who wanted to board but didn’t have the facilities to house them. Now that they do, more students will be able to board which will generate more income for the school and allow the school to carry out its own improvements – the investment will have a domino effect and hence will continually help to improve the school by generating more money.
Thirdly, as the students will not have to walk long distances home or do chores at home (which the girls were saying is a particular issue for them) we and the teachers believe that this investment will help improve MSS [Mean Standard Scores] results as the boarders will be able to focus on their studies and work more effectively. Already boarders tend to do best in the school exams, hence by improving the facilities and allowing for an increase in numbers of boarders we hope to continue this trend.
Finally, both the students and teachers seem really pleased with this investment. We hope that this improvement has therefore boosted morale amongst students and teachers, and their support we believe shows this area of change we helped bring about was a needed and effective one.