The ERSF funded ‘English Teaching Pilot Project’ has proved to be a significant success. Over the 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 achieving 100% pass rate in the final term – 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 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.
There is a 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 and build international contacts and networks. 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 underestimated.
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 this 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 the timetable. ‘Buy in’ from the school is incredibly important, as it is a significant time and resources commitment. We have only chosen schools that have themselves identified English as a top priority and given us assurances of their commitment.