STIR Newsflash: A Path to Impact 60 Million Children

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STIR’s mission is to partner with governments to ignite and sustain teachers’ intrinsic motivation. We do this through the building of teacher networks – local, ongoing communities of practice – that improve teacher effort, classroom practice, student learning and financial efficiency for education systems.

Five years into our existence, we are excited to have reached 30,000 teachers and 1.3 million children in India and Uganda. Preliminary results from recent independent evaluations (including aWorld Bank funded Randomised Control Trial with IDinsight in India) are also showing strong and statistically significant impacts on teacher motivation and effort, and student learning in maths, as well as indicating areas we can strengthen in classroom practice and reading.

Our work with leading education economists is also suggesting exciting early findings from a ‘return on investment’ perspective: every dollar invested into the STIR approach is likely to be quickly recouping 7 dollars in improved teacher effort for governments, and over 100 dollars in increased lifetime earnings for citizens through better learning outcomes at the child level.

But this looks like just the beginning…

Three months ago, the highest levels of the Indian government asked us to support them to embed our approach to teacher intrinsic motivation fully into the education systems of the states we are working in (Delhi, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh). We are developing separate plans for this with each of the states.

In the process the government is committing almost ten times more human resource and operational resource into the STIR partnership, so that the day to day running of the STIR approach is genuinely taken over by government staff. The role of STIR’s own staff will move to providing support to districts as they do this.

Following these developments in India, the Ugandan government has also asked us to explore how we can embed our approach into the national system at primary and secondary levels, to ensure real ownership by schools and long-term sustainability.

The upshot: a new path to impact 60 million children within the next five years. 

Adoption of our model by governments has always been our “end game”, but the requests in both countries came, honestly, much faster than we expected.

Our discussions with government leaders, donors and advisors led to a clear consensus: the opportunity to support our government partners in this way is something we should embrace.

We’ll just need to work hard and fast to develop new capabilities – as well as strengthen current areas of operations and impact – to manage the transition as smartly as possible. And we’ve outlined below some of the key changes and what that will mean for us.

We are both excited and daunted by what this new journey will bring. Along the way we will share what we learn, and hope to rely on your continued engagement and support in this new chapter of our growth.

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What does this new opportunity mean for STIR? The five most important things to know:
• Programme: We’re developing a new, “system-led” delivery approach that we’ll test in a couple of our Indian states (Delhi, Karnataka) and four districts in Uganda this year. As we learn and evaluate, we’ll look to migrate the bulk of our resource towards this system-led approach over the coming years. And we’ve worked with our government partners to upgrade our agreements to encompass the new type and level of government commitment.
• Impact: We’re kicking off some exciting new rigorous evaluations with partners at New York University, that will help us ensure that we don’t dilute impact as we move to the system-led approach. We also want to use the evaluations to test how improvements we have made in programme design and delivery are leading to even stronger impact.

• Data and technology: As STIR becomes adopted by the system, fast feedback of data – at the classroom, school and district levels – is critical to help teachers and officials understand what’s going well and what can be improved.  We are in the early stages of designing a mobile-based big data platform with support of leading technology partners, such as EkStep Foundation.
• Organisational Development: In the new system-led model, each of our staff will be supporting whole districts, and indirectly hundreds of thousands of children. A new People Strategy will ensure we invest more in their support and development as the expectations of their roles grow, particularly as they support government staff to adopt the culture and values of the STIR approach.
• Funding: The good news is that we’ll only need to increase STIR’s projected annual budgets by about 20% – to achieve a 60-fold increase in scale – because of the increased government contribution. We’re fortunate for the continued support of our amazing donor partners, e.g.Echidna Giving and ELMA Philanthropies who recently renewed their commitments to us. We are also reaching out to a small number of new donors (including the first within India).

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Bringing our donor partners and board together to discuss the government adoption opportunity at our annual strategy workshop in London 
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STIR staff engage with local government officials at our first ever Training Institute for the system-led delivery approach at Chickkaballapur, Karnataka.

The first Training Institutes for the system-led delivery approach have been received very positively by government officials who will be responsible for running STIR networks in Karnataka and Delhi:

“I promise to STIR and all that I would do my best to reach the shared vision we set during the last three days.”

“I found it very useful. Indeed an appreciable step. The whole session was designed very thoughtfully and reflected the hardwork put behind it. I enjoyed it as well as learned a lot.”

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