Improved teaching for a better future in Equatorial Guinea
Thanks to the relatively recent discovery of major oil reserves, the economy of Equatorial Guinea, a historically low-income country in West Africa, has surged over the past decade. FHI 360 is working with individuals at all levels of the education sector to ensure that the nation's education system — specifically its teacher corps and primary schools — can surge along with it.
The Program for Education Development of Equatorial Guinea, or PRODEGE as it is known in Spanish, grew out of an agreement between the country's president, H.E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, and John Hess, CEO of Hess Corporation, an energy company that has conducted business in the country for more than a decade. Through this landmark public–private partnership, FHI 360 works with the nation's Ministry of Education and Science to raise the quality of the country's schools and improve student learning.
The country is already seeing a demand for more skilled workers as oil, trade and other economic opportunities take hold. However, only one of six children who enter the nation's primary schools completes the six years of studies on time, according to ministry data produced with assistance from FHI 360. Roughly half of the nation's primary school students are too old for their grade, and just one of every three high school graduates is female.
"Government officials recognize that improving the nation's education system is essential so the country has homegrown talent to fill the emerging jobs," explained Sergio Ramírez, a senior project director for the program.
Creating 'active schools'
PRODEGE uses a model for school improvement known as "active schools." Through this approach, which was originally pioneered in Latin America, educators use self-paced learning guides that are designed by local instructors. Active schools promote student government groups that model civic and democratic behavior. They also encourage strong community participation in the learning process to help students learn real-life skills that they can apply outside of the classroom.
With its emphasis on achieving literacy by the time students complete first grade, repetition rates across all primary grades has dropped by 15 percent. Student enrollment in primary grades has also increased 7 percent since the program's inception.
Since PRODEGE began in 2006, FHI 360's experts have overseen the training of 48 master teachers, who in turn have helped boost the skills of more than 2,000 educators across the country. A total of 992 primary school teachers have graduated from a two-year, FHI 360-led teaching certification program that focuses on increasing subject-matter knowledge and improving pedagogical skills, as well as teaching educators how to manage multigrade classrooms and make lessons more engaging.
In addition to training teachers, FHI 360 is providing ongoing support to 54 primary active schools across the country, with a combined 3,200 students. The schools serve as models for effective learning and improved teacher practice. Those schools have been equipped with school supplies, classroom materials and classroom furniture.
PRODEGE has also strengthened the capacity of the education ministry to serve the country's schools. FHI 360 and the ministry established a data collection system and school map to record information about schools, teachers and students. This information helps the ministry evaluate national trends and identify the greatest needs at the school level.
"What has been accomplished involves the effort of many educators and communities around the country," said Carmen Siri, PRODEGE program director. "The program has built the capacity and hopes of hundreds, possibly thousands of Equatoguineans."
PHOTOS: (top) As a result of FHI 360's program, repetition rates have dropped 15 percent across all primary grades. (bottom) FHI 360-trained master teachers have helped boost the skills of more than 2,000 educators across the country. (courtesy of Hess Corporation)
For more information on PRODEGE, contact Sergio Ramirez at sramirez AT fhi360.org.