VAB schools have achieved significant improvement of performance in pass rate and proportion of students getting high grades.
The average performance has been consistently better than the national average with some schools doing as good as the best endowed schools in the country.
In addition, the schools have done well in co-academic and co-curricular activities which were introduced in VAB schools to complement curricular activities, aimed at enhancing the achievement of the three goals of quality education: Learning, Competence and Citizenship Achievements of VAB Schools in Co-Academic and Co-Curricular Activities. The schools are doing remarkably well in getting the students proficient in English, Math and Computer applications. Several schools attained computer literacy and English conversational skill for 100% of the students. VAB schools are doing exceptionally well, despite their limitations as rural schools, in sports, debate and cultural programs at the upazila (sub-district), district, divisional and national levels. VAB has been instrumental in getting girl students participate in sports and debates. In debates, the teams from girls’ schools are competing successfully with co-ed schools. In girls’ competitions in sports, VAB school teams are topping at the upazila level. In 2019, the cricket team from a VAB school became the National Champion in girls’ cricket.
An assessment of “How We Are Doing” is an exploratory and evolving exercise for VAB. There are several ways we attempted to have a self-evaluation of our programs.
The first is the simplest way to examine whether and how the numbers of beneficiaries of VAB’s programs grew over time. The examples of two core programs are given below: Scholarships to worthy and needy rural students and Training of underequipped rural Teachers.
VAB began its high school scholarship program in 2000 by awarding 100 scholarships to students in 10 schools. In 2021, VAB provided 1800 scholarships to students at 60 high schools in rural Bangladesh. So far VAB has provided more than 21,865 thousand scholarships to students from the 6th to the 10th Grade.
Students receive admission, tuition & exam fees and stationery as part of the high school scholarship.
Under the College Scholarship program, which began in 2005, VAB has provided poor but promising high school students with outstanding final exam grades (A & A+) scholarships to enter college. Students receive assistance with admission and tuition fees, books and supplies. Between 2005 and 2013, 1,008 college scholarships have been provided.
Training teachers probably has the greatest impact on improving the quality of rural education. VAB’s training makes teachers more effective and confident by introducing new teaching methods and reviewing the contents under the most recent national curriculum. Under the Teacher Training Program, at the VAB offices in Dhaka, 1,854 rural teachers have so far been given training in English, Math, and Computers.
A second way VAB tries to assess how “we are doing” is to investigate how rural schools fared in various academic as well as co-academic and co-curricular fields under the VAB programs. An account of the success is presented below of 15 schools in three clusters in Shyamnagar upazila of Satkhira district. A similar investigation is under way in the remaining 45 schools in nine clusters.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF SCHOOLS:
Shyamnagar is a remote upazila in Satkhira district in Khulna division bordering the Sunderbans. The upazila is in the disadvantaged category, becoming victim of flood and cyclone. Five schools among the fifteen chosen for launching VAB Model in 2012 belonged to this upazila. Ten more schools were subsequently added, five in 2016 and five in 2018. The recent successes of these fifteen schools in different areas along with a few others will be cited here to demonstrate the efficacy of VAB Model.
SSC Results. Five schools attained 100% pass rate at the SSC (Secondary School Certificate) in 2020. The average pass rate for the fifteen schools was 95.48, which was 12.61 percentage points than national average and 8.17 percentage points higher than for the Jashore Board (the Board to which Shyamnagar belongs). The percentage of students securing A grade was 81.08%, 14.64 percentage points higher than the average of the Jashore Board.
JSC Results. Five schools attained 100% pass rate in the JSC (Junior School Certificate) in 2019. The average pass rate of 94.86% was higher by 6.96 percentage points higher than the Jashore Board average. The superior performance of the schools at both JSC and SSC levels has been ascribed to VAB interventions, particularly to the Group Method of teaching-learning in classroom.
Computer Skill. Four schools attained 100% Computer Literacy in 2019, a feat quite unique even for an advanced urban school. Students from different classes were tested on ability in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, email and internet search. The tests conducted by VAB were supervised by external guests and education officials. A total of nine schools in different clusters have so far attained this status with many more on the way.
English Language Skill. The schools are moving ahead with English Language Skills for students. Some of the schools are well on their way to attain conversational skills for 100% of the students.
Math Olympiad. National competition is held every year under the auspices of the National Math Olympiad Committee. Forty-seven students from Shyamnagar schools qualified at the regional level. Three students, one in junior high school category and two in high school category reached the National level. Participation at the National level is the first time in the Shyamnagar upazila.
Debate. Debate teams of several schools performed very well in competitions organized by external agencies. In many cases, VAB schools became champion at the upazila level in most of the clusters and in some cases reached the district and divisional levels. Recently, a month-long interschool debate competition was organized online by the Shyamnagar upazila authorities among fourteen schools on the occasion of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The debate team of a VAB supported school in a remote village, Kanthabaria High School, became the Champion beating a well-resourced and well recognized school in the upazila. Several VAB schools took part with excellent results in debates in the national television channel and in competitions organized by the Dhaka University Debating Club. In the Education Week competitions organized by the Ministry of Education, debaters from VAB schools performed very well in debate, quiz and cultural programs.
VAB organized a Regional Debate Competition virtually in December 2020 among twenty-four schools under the VAB umbrella in four districts in the country covering the northern, southern and western parts of the country. The competition took place at three levels: in-school, interschool within each cluster and inter-cluster. The teams did very well and the final debate was well publicized in the media. One school from the north, Nageshwari DayaMoyee Academy High School became the Champion.
Sports. VAB schools had excellent performance in the National Sports Competition organized by the Ministry of Education in both the Summer and the Winter Games. Competitions were held in Football (Soccer), Cricket, Handball and Volleyball. VAB school teams were champions and runners up in most cases at the upazila level and performed well at the district level. The results followed the same trend for boys’ teams and for girls’ teams.
An outstanding record of VAB schools is to have four students from four schools qualifying for entry into BKSP (Bangladesh Kreera Shikkha Pratishthan – Bangladesh Sports Education Institution) in 2020. BKSP is a government institution that hunts for sports talents in schools; the students get extensive training in selected sports, and also continue with their studies, all funded by BKSP. The greatest success in sports so far has been the winning of the 2019 National Championship in girls’ cricket by Ponchopukur Girls’ High School in Nilphamari Sadar upazila.
In VAB’s view, a comprehensive way of assessing “how we are doing” is to calculate a composite Index called the “Performance Index”, for each of the VAB schools. The movement of the Index is an indicator of “How We Are Doing”, that is, what difference VAB’s programs are making in the school in the overall sense. The composite Index covering comprehensively all the VAB’s programs is a weighted measure of the performance of a school, the weights being the importance given to the performance in different fields and in different activities in each field. The Index developed by VAB itself and how it is calculated is explained in the School Performance section.
Finally, VAB is very cognizant of the importance of evaluation of VAB’s programs carried out by independent external Evaluators. In 2018, such an evaluation was carried out in a preliminary fashion. The evaluation exercise and its findings are presented in the Sub-section called “Evaluation”.