Small Schools Innovating at their Best

Small schools, or one teacher-assisted schools, represent a large portion of the educational landscape in Southeast Asia. However, this significant feature of the region’s education system is beset with overwhelming challenges. Often characterized by multigrade instruction, small schools exist out of necessity to provide education access to learners in remote, isolated rural communities of the region’s developing countries.

Multigrade teaching is one of the projects identified for ASEAN regional collaboration in the “Reaching the Unreached” program of SEAMEO to achieve the EFA goals together by 2015.

In line with this mission, SEAMEO INNOTECH implemented in 2010 Project SMaLL, or Small Schools Management for Lifelong Learning, in Laos, Malaysia, and the Philippines as a fast track initiative to “reach the unreached” school-aged children. Several capacity building interventions have been provided to seven (7) pilot schools to enable them to effectively manage their meager resources through strong relationships between the school and the community, and thereby, improve overall school performance.

After more than a year of implementation, SEAMEO INNOTECH conducted monitoring visits to Lao PDR and Cebu, Philippines, last August 3-5 and 15-17, respectively. The visits were done in cooperation with the Ministry of Education in Laos, and the DepED Region VII and School Divisions of Talisay and Carcar.

The visits documented the best practices of the small schools in the two countries in improving school performance and introducing innovations in partnership with strategic stakeholders. The school monitoring visit and documentation of best practices are integral components of Project SMaLL to ensure that knowledge and skills gained from capacity development provided to beneficiary schools are directly and readily applied. At the same time, the visits also help determine the critical areas of community-based support that are needed to sustain the implementation of alternative learning modalities introduced by the project in the Philippines and Laos.

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