Staff of the USAID Education Office desired dynamic training – beyond PowerPoint presentations and theoretical lectures – that would equip them with the knowledge and skills to do their jobs more effectively. The core trainings have been tailored to meet the real needs of field staff and address technical and organizational issues. Experience, evidence and common sense all indicate, however, that the kind of professionalism needed does not result from a single training event. This is why EPIC’s professional development workstream uses a continuum of learning approach rooted in the principles of collaborative, Mission-centered course design and blended learning through various modalities, such as short videos, online courses and face-to-face trainings.
The EPIC Project’s professional development team has designed:
- Multi-day in-person core courses:
- Education Overview Course (EOC), which exposes participants to USAID’s education sector strategy, in particular E3/ED’s goal areas and crosscutting themes.
- Effective Education Portfolio Management (EEPM), which equips Education Sector staff to effectively manage their portfolios through all phases of the program cycle—program design, procurement, implementation, evaluation, and reporting.
- Education Overview Course 2.0, which is an orientation to the principles and priorities of USAID’s new Education Policy, as well as how to operationalize these principles within the context of the USG Strategy of International Basic Education.
- Courses on special topics:
- Education and Countering Violent Extremism (Ed-CVE) in-person course, which examines critical evidence, experiences, and analytic gaps related to the drivers of violent extremism and the role education can play in mitigating it.
- Integrating Gender in Education Programs self-directed online course, which enables staff to practice conducting a focused gender and education analysis incorporating the three principles of equity, safety, and empowerment. The course is accompanied by a Gender How-To Note and Gender-To-Go Facilitator’s Guide.
- Positive Youth Development (PYD) self-directed online courses. PYD 101 introduces learners to PYD principles and concepts. PYD 201 explores the tools and strategies to integrate these principles into development programming and activity design.
- Webinars on topics such as host country engagement and sustainability, disability education, early grade reading, education financing, and government-to-government agreements.
In the beginning of the project, EPIC conducted a meta-analysis of education sector professional development needs through one-on-one interviews with webinars with USAID staff, which shed light on priority training content. We have designed courses collaboratively with Regional Bureaus, Missions, and other field staff who serve as subject matter experts. Webinar topics have been selected and designed based on questions posed by the field and/or Regional Bureaus. Many of the courses have been delivered multiple times around the globe and have been redesigned in response to feedback from participants.
he ultimate measure of our success is education officers who are well equipped to collaborate with host countries, implementing partners, and various stakeholders to ensure that boys and girls are accessing and benefitting from quality education. A selection of results are as follows:
- All participants who took the EOC in 2017 were satisfied with the course and reported on average low-moderate knowledge/skill before the course and moderate-high knowledge/skill after the course. One participant stated, “This is a very comprehensive overview of the edu[cation] sector. A ‘must do’ course for all edu[cation] colleagues across the agency to have a conceptual class on the focus of the agency in the sector of Edu[cation].”
- Across the six EEPM courses delivered in 2017-18, 81% of participants rated they were either satisfied or highly satisfied with the course. In each course, participants indicated that their knowledge improved across each of the six course learning objectives. The first objective of understanding and using collaboration, learning, and adapting (CLA) practices consistently has the highest post-course knowledge score.
- All participants of the Ed-CVE course delivered for Asia Mission staff in 2017 and Middle East and North Africa Mission staff in 2018 reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the course as a whole. Nine months later, a post-course survey was administered to both cohorts and 83% of respondents found the course at least somewhat relevant to their work and applied their learning at least somewhat.
- More than 150 participants from five regions have participated in EPIC PD webinars. Participants shared insights pertaining to the webinar topic throughout the sessions and helped ED staff better understand field challenges and realities through questions and feedback.