The intervention programme comprised: i) a high quality in-service teacher training with regular monitoring and educational support; ii) the development and use of learning materials for teachers and pupils from preschool to 3rd grade. The academic support to children started in February 2014 (preschool) and was given to the same group until June 2018.
Primary teachers (21 initially) were placed in the villages assigned to intervention and three supervisors were responsible for monitoring and giving educational support to them.
Supervisors and Teachers’ Training
To create a high quality teaching group, supervisors and teachers were selected based on their fluency in one of the local indigenous languages, academic level, experience in teaching, knowledge in Portuguese and mathematics, pedagogical skills and motivation.
Supervisors received an intense training in Portuguese during 3 months and were rigorously tested by the end. Only those who had achieved B2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages continued to receive training. From February 2012 to April 2012, they received training on personal and professional development, humans-rights, child development, teacher role in the school and community, classroom management, pedagogy methods and techniques, evaluation, planning, supervision and preparative activities (preschool). Following that they had another 6 months in-service training.
Teachers were selected later through a process that included two-week training to access their skills. During August and September 2013 they received training on classroom management, pedagogy methods and techniques, evaluation, planning, supervision and preparative activities (preschool).
Every year before the academic school year started, teachers received an intensive training on scientific and pedagogical topics listed in the national curriculum for the grade they were going to teach in that year. Further, they received regular and frequent tutoring and monitoring.
Selected and trained teachers were appointed to villages randomly allocated to intervention. During the first 9 months, they worked preparing pupils (aged 4, 5 and 6 years old) to enter in 1st grade. Then, teachers worked during 3 years with the same group of children until the end of 3rd grade. Teachers conducted support classes as and when required, with those children having learning difficulties or absenteeism during the project period.
Teachers’ supervision and educational support
Throughout the study these selected teachers were closely supported and monitored by supervisors and a Quality Control Group (QCG). The QCG was composed by the trainers of teachers.
Supervisors and the QCG conducted regular classroom observation to evaluate teachers’ performance, pupils’ learning, and guide teachers’ work.
Teachers had monthly meeting for lessons' planning with supervisors, and a monthly review meeting with all the team members.
To evaluate pupils’ learning outcomes, teacher and supervisor conducted tests prepared by the QCG, monthly and quarterly.
Learning and Teaching manuals
Teaching manuals and pupils’ exercise books were developed for introductory, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades in all subjects that are included in the National Curriculum of Guinea Bissau. These manuals helped teachers to explore all the topics found in the curriculum, structure their classes linking their lessons to the pupils’ exercise books.
During July and September 2013 and end of January 2014, supervisors conducted sensitisation and mobilisation campaigns in the communities randomly selected to receive the intervention. They promoted activities to motivate children to attend academic classes and sensitise parents and community to the importance of education and their role in ensuring better outcomes.
Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) were created and fomented to promote active participation and involvement of parents and communities in the process of learning.
An annual plan of the academic classes’ activities was presented and discussed with communities. PTAs were involved in the management of the academic classes and monitoring of children’s attendance and their learning progress. Children who are not performing were given extra time after the regular teaching time and parents were sensitised to support their children.