TRANSFORM is British Council Sri Lanka’s overarching education programme, bringing together our work in education, English, higher education, schools and skills. The overarching aim is to contribute to the Government of Sri Lanka’s goals for economic and social development by supporting its education reform programme. Put simply, it’s about making sure young people have access to learning opportunities, provided by a fit-for-purpose and relevant education system, that will allow them to contribute to the country’s development while fulfilling their own potential and achieving their personal aspirations.
So what exactly is being TRANSFORMed?! On the surface, it is the education system. We have clustered our work across 16 sub-projects into result areas:
- Professionalisation, which focuses on individual capacity building of the education cadre and institutional strengthening at all education levels;
- Quality assurance: those aspects of the system which provide the ‘glue’ and contribute to raising standards, such as professional standards, international benchmarking, qualifications framework, inspection, and whole school culture;
- The transition of young people from education to employment, exploring the industry-education link including on careers guidance and skill development.
These results areas are underpinned by the cross-cutting areas of Research, Evaluation and Learning (REL) and Strategic Communications, which will extend beyond the more familiar PR to encompass advocacy work and social marketing targeting the wider public. These projects are being implemented using a mixed funding model, drawing in UK institutional expertise at every available opportunity.
But are these the only aspects of the TRANSFORMation? Far from it! We are transforming the way we with work, both internally and externally. While teams may have responsibility for specific sub-projects, we have been operating for the last year as a single education unit from the design and planning stage through to project management of implementation. In addition, we use a key account management approach to our work with the Government of Sri Lanka and other stakeholders, engaging with them where possible by results area. A recent reflection day hosted by TRANSFORM brought together key individuals from 2 ministries and various departments as well as the whole British Council education team to reconfirm our collaborative focus for the next year. Using the Open Space Technology format of having no agenda, collectively we reconfirmed our shared commitment – professionalisation, raising standards and linking education to employment!
Our success over the past decades meant that a year ago there was a rather calcified view of the British Council as being ‘those lovely people who do training’ and whose other main function is to teach everyone on the island, English! While this is not to diminish the importance of our work in those areas, UK was not being seen as a major strategic partner in the large scale of education reform – problematic in a highly internationally competitive field. Our confidence in creating and claiming a space for ourselves at this level has led to a shift in perceptions of GoSL of British Council (representing the UK) as a key actor and partner in its education reform ambitions - a huge breakthrough!
The progress since developing the TRANSFORM framework in September 2017 has been visible. Through multiple funding mechanisms (grant, ODA finding, GoSL co-funding, grantee co-funding, EU, corporates and HNWI), we are managing activity this financial year worth about GBP1.3 million (likely to higher as GOSL co-funding slowly increases). We have UK partners across all of the results areas. We have already achieved concrete results under our Professionalisation strand with research activity and capacity building taking place to address the systemic questions.
The main aim of TRANSFORM is access to learning opportunities provided by a fit for purpose and relevant education system, allowing young people to contribute to the economic and social development of Sri Lanka while achieving their potential and meeting their personal aspirations.
This project works with Education in the state school sector. The overall objective is ‘Enhanced teacher and student performance resulting from the adoption of better quality and integrated pre- and in-service training and continuous professional development practices (by teacher educators, principals, zonal, provincial and central government education officials), operating within integrated frameworks and professional standards systems.