Pakistan’s Revitalizing, Innovating, Strengthening Education (RISE)
On October 8, 2005, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the northern areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in Pakistan. At the time of the earthquake, school was in session and over 18,000 students and 850 teachers were killed. Approximately 7,700 schools were destroyed. In response to the devastating earthquake, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) made a commitment to the government of Pakistan to help “build back better” the education system and restore livelihoods in earthquake-affected areas. The work was described this way because prior to the earthquake the public education infrastructure was largely ineffective. Education departments lacked skills in key areas of education management; teachers lacked knowledge of interactive, activity-based learning and student-centered teaching methodologies; and while School Management Committees (SMCs) and Parent-Teacher Councils (PTCs) existed in many schools, they were often inactive or weak.
On July 31, 2006, a consortium comprised of the American Institutes for Research and its partners, the International Rescue Committee, Sungi Development Foundation, and the National Rural Support Foundation, was awarded the Revitalizing Innovating Strengthening Education (RISE) project to support USAID’s reconstruction efforts in the earthquake-affected areas. RISE began its work in Mansehra, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Bagh, and AJK. Sarhad Rural Support Program joined the consortium in 2007, and at the request of the AJK government, USAID expanded RISE coverage to include the districts of Muzaffarabad and Poonch in 2007.
RISE ended on August 31, 2010 having improved educational capacity and quality at all levels of the education system including hands-on training and support for 196 district education managers, training and support for over 10,316 teachers, and training and support for over 17,600 community members. Perhaps most importantly, RISE benefitted approximately 198,000 students in Mansehra, Bagh, Muzaffarabad, and Poonch districts over the life of the project. RISE assisted education officials, teachers, and communities to build back a better system in which
- education departments are better able to manage resources;
- teachers have the necessary skills in active-learning methods to improve the quality of their instruction; and
- communities are mobilized to advocate and act for their schools through SMCs and PTCs.
RISE was developed based on global evidence that a comprehensive approach to education support can build the capacity of all education stakeholders, leading to sustainable improvements in educational quality and access. RISE’s system of support for education managers, teachers, and communities substantially improved the quality of both classroom instruction and student learning. RISE’s model of capacity building for educational management ensured district education systems were better managed and more efficient. The governments of AJK and KPK endorsed RISE’s key initiatives and helped to develop roadmaps for long-term sustainability. RISE’s achievements were a result of its close partnership with education officials, teachers, communities, and representatives of training institutions.
Lesson Learned No. 1: Enter schools in a phased approach, starting with community mobilization, followed by teacher training activities. High expectations in a relief environment resulted in early difficulty in gaining government and community commitment to a development approach. In response, RISE assisted the government with day-to-day tasks and promoted donors’ application of government policy in remuneration for participation in donor-sponsored activities. RISE supported SMCs and PTCs to help schools return to normalcy (e.g., by providing temporary shelter) through training and a small grants program. A recommendation for future programs is a phased entry into communities, starting with SMC and PTC mobilization, followed by teacher training activities.
Lesson Learned No. 2: Support long-term education goals. Long-term sustained support is necessary to bring about real change. Training should be needs-based, should keep long-term goals in mind, and should be conducted using the human resources available within the system.
Lesson Learned No. 3: Embed personnel in district education offices. The frequent transfer of government officials necessitated the re-training of education managers on a regular basis. Embedded staff responded by working with education managers to design and offer orientations for incoming managers.
Lesson Learned No. 4: Give communities a role and trust them to act. Communities “learned by doing” that they can mobilize local resources and mobilize them effectively.
Lesson Learned No. 5: Motivate communities and educators through public recognition. All stakeholders need motivation to sustain progress. It is important to give public recognition to communities, teachers, and education managers. Cluster meetings provide valuable venues to acknowledge contributions of stakeholders. Exchange visits give opportunities for public exposure of good work and can provide motivation, as well as opportunities for peer learning.
Lesson Learned No. 6: Acknowledge geographic and cultural differences and design programs that are sensitive to the differences. Different geographic locations require different project approaches, particularly with regard to gender issues in areas with more conservative norms.
Lesson Learned No. 7: Involve head teachers in the design of professional development. Greater involvement of head teachers in professional development activities generates greater understanding and support for the process. Future programs should include training and professional development working groups tailored to head teachers.
Lesson Learned No. 8: Display clear and measurable goals. Set clear goals, carefully measure the results, and display both for all education stakeholders to see.