Since 2016, BOOKBRIDGE has established two funds for our Learning Centers: a Quality Fund (QF) and a Professional Development Stipend Fund (SF). The Quality Fund provides small grants to learning centers to support quality improvements in the areas of teaching, materials, community outreach and student engagement. Learning centers can be as creative as they want, as long as the activities they implement directly link to improvements in quality as measured through the BOOKBRIDGE Quality Framework. It also provides funding for non-learning center based activities which benefit multiple learning centers.
The Stipend Fund supports the development of talented young professionals and secures committed and well qualified staff members for our learning centers (LC). The stipend is not intended to be used as a subsidy to Learning Center salaries, but must be applied towards professional development and/or support required for the professional development of committed and talented individuals.
Allocations of the funds are made after an LC applies and the application is reviewed by the Country Team and the Country Development Manager.
In 2017, LCs across all three countries have applied the funds for some amazing programs and activities at their LCs.
Sujitha takes an online TESOL course
One of the key challenges identified in external evaluations of the LCs in 2015 and 2016 in Cambodia and Mongolia, was the prevalence of traditional, out dated, teacher centered approaches in the classrooms. In order to mitigate this, we have been encouraging the CHs to participate or send their staff to participate in TESOL courses or other training on student-centered teaching. One excellent, inexpensive and quality option, is an online certificate course provided by the University of Arizona through Coursera (link: https://www.coursera.org/courses?languages=en&query=tesol). For Euro340, Sujitha, from Bandarawela learning center in Sri Lanka, has been improving her approach to teaching English over the past year and has nearly completed her TESOL certification.
Sujitha says: “TESOL inspires you, guides you and moulds you. TESOL teaches you the secret of successful language teaching. You learn to understand students and their needs, be well-prepared for lessons, create a perfect lesson plan and finally give practice, practice and practice to the student.”
You can also watch a video submission of Sujitha’s for her course on Youtube.
We’re excited to see that Sothika from Angtasom learning center in Cambodia will also start his journey with this course soon and encourage more CHs and their staff to do the same.
Mongolia LCs put on an English Festival
In Mongolia, four LCs (Arvaikheer, Mandalgovi, Chinggis and Dalanzagad) applied together for the Quality Fund in order to organize a three-day English Festival for their students. Euro880 allowed over 30 students from three different areas of Mongolia to travel to Mandalgovi for three days of English-only activities, leadership building and fun! Read the article about the event.
Watch the feedback of the participants of the festival:
Sothika develops his staff and materials through additional training
Sothika realized that his staff needed a lot more support to understand student centered approaches as well as more materials for use in classroom activities. He applied and was approved for funds to run phonics and material making workshops over several weekends.
Read more about the training
Sothika says: “I am grateful to have the BOOKBRIDGE Quality Fund. It is really useful to improve the quality of the course offerings in the learning center. If I get the funds next time, I will use it with my teachers again in order to improve their English. As far as I am concerned, to focus on quality is to focus on teachers. I would like to put more investment in our teachers. Thank you BOOKBRIDGE for this quality fund.”
Community Hero Exchanges across countries
In addition to activities at the LCs, it was agreed by Country Teams and the Country Development Manager, that exchanges of Community Heroes (CH) across countries would be hugely beneficial and to allocate some funds for this. So far Uugaana has traveled from Mongolia to Cambodia, Sujitha traveled from Sri Lanka to Mongolia and early next year, Battuul will travel from Mongolia to Cambodia. There are plans to open the program to more CHs in 2018.
These exchanges give the CH opportunities for growth and development through traveling to another country and visiting other LCs to learn from them and importantly to also participate and share their skills and knowledge with them. Exchange programs facilitate direct connections between students at LCs, as the CH is obligated to prepare pen pal letters or videos to share when visiting other LCs. We have already seen a growth in the number of inter-country interactions through Facebook and through regular Zoom calls since the start of this year. Finally, the CHs benefit through workshops, training and skills sharing by the visiting CH during All Staff Training as one of their tasks is to run a training session.
CHs are chosen for the program against criteria developed together by all the Country Teams and include elements such as high level of English and willingness and ability to actively engage and share with others.
Another major challenge identified in the quality evaluations of Cambodian and Mongolia LCs, was the lack of a quality, unified curriculum. Funds from the Quality Fund allowed us to organize for representatives with skills in curriculum development and teaching from all three countries to gather together in Mongolia this past August and kick start the BOOKBRIDGE Curriculum Super Heroes Working Group. Together we were able to develop a program philosophy and mission and a draft framework for three levels at our LCs. From here, we can start working downwards through Level overviews, Unit Guides and eventually sample Lesson Plans. Importantly, the framework takes into account the books currently being used at BOOKBRIDGE LCs and also ties student outcomes to the universally accepted CEFR Framework.
Want to be a part of these great activities?
If you want to have an impact directly on our LCs, consider donating to the Quality or Stipend Fund. 100% of your donation is used for direct support of activities developed and implemented by our LCs. Our amazing family of Community Heroes know exactly what is needed to improve quality and teaching at their LCs and this is an incredible way to support them to do so.
- 10 Quality Fund applications submitted
- 8 Quality Fund applications granted
- 2,073 EUR disbursed directly to learning centers
- 375 EUR to be disbursed
- 350 EUR in average granted at learning center level
- 6,739 EUR utilized through General Fund which supports all LCs