The ERSF funded ‘English Teaching Pilot Project’ has proved to be a significant success. Over the last academic year the school’s English attainment and grades have notably improved with conversational English possible in varying levels across the school (previously none) and with written tests 100% passes in the final term this year – a first for Suntakhan! There has been increased support from families for children to attend school (attendance is up this year by 37%) as the children begin to become more fluent in English.
4 schools out of the 13 we have been working in through our ‘Act on Education ‘ programme expressed clearly to us through their advocacy work that English, especially spoken English, is currently a failing subject and is a key priority for students, staff and parents. As proven by our earlier work in this area, spoken English is absolutely vital for students to successfully access and participate in further and higher education, and significantly increases the chances of gaining sustainable and profitable employment.
Due to lack of well-qualified English teachers, before our programme students in all four identified schools learnt English only once a week. This had a significant detrimental impact on their chances of continuing education, finding work, and ultimately supporting their family. Spoken English enables students as they grow to adulthood, to more easily access legal provision, build international contacts and networks, and mastery of English also raises self-esteem and social standing. In short the social, economic and personal benefits, of becoming competent in spoken and written English cannot be under-estimated.
In line with the successful pilot project, we have hired 4 full-time highly qualified English teachers with a successful track record to work in four further schools. The teacher is responsible for teaching all age grades in each school (we have found the continuity to be important) for at least one hour per day, per class. The schools ensure that every class is allocated this time for English teaching within he timetable. ‘Buy in’ from the school is incredibly important as it is a significant time and resources commitment; and we have again only chosen schools that have themselves identified English as a top priority and given us assurances of their commitment.