Educhange Foundation – supporting systemic change in education
The Educhange Foundation works as a platform for representatives from the private, NGO and public sectors, who have combined their efforts, as well as their well-deserved reputations, know-how and finances, to bring about systemic changes in the education system in the Czech Republic. We focus on long-term and sustainable approaches that can have a real impact on the education of children. We collaborate with various organizations and projects that focus on improving the education system as a whole and emphasize the importance of education in the Czech Republic.
Although the state of the Czech education system can be called “average” in terms of school grading, examples of how education could be done better and in a different way can already be found in numerous schools. Likewise, there are various interesting new innovations in the field of education that have the potential to improve the way of teaching. The Educhange Foundation Wants to transform the field of education by working with and supporting the educators and innovators trying to create a better future for our children.
Our vision is that all children are able to take full advantage of the learning process, learn with joy, have equal chances and leave school prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
The Educhange Foundation was founded in December 2018 by four major Czech foundations that have been committed long-term to supporting educational projects and organizations: the Avast Foundation, the Česká spořitelna Foundation, the Karel Janeček Foundation and Open Society Fund Prague.
“Educhange is an ambitious project, which – we believe – will not only prove in specific schools that change is possible but show the way to achieve this change. We would not want to miss being a part of this.” Ondřej Zapletal, Director of Česká spořitelna Foundation
Why the Educhange Foundation was established
Over the last 30 years, the needs of our society have changed tremendously. However, the overall education system and the way of teaching within Czech schools have only responded to these developments to a very limited extent. Although there are numerous positive examples of change where one can seek inspiration, many problems persist:
- The Czech education system is suffering from long-term underfinancing
- Pupils often do not acquire the skills they need at school; they do not see meaning in learning; and they do not enjoy going to school in general
- Students have little interest in becoming teachers
- There is a lack of systemic vision for the future of the education system as well as a lack of vision within individual schools
- Academic results have been deteriorating in terms of the country’s global ranking from excellent to average or below-average results.
The Educhange Foundation supports systemic changes in education that could serve as a catalyst for other changes in society.Our approach to supporting education change is responsible and holistic. Our long-term goal is to ensure that every child is able to take full advantage of the learning process, learns with joy and has an equal chance at success. We aim to do this by achieving the following among the individual groups that influence education:
- Parents are actively interested and involved in the lives of their children’s schools and are provided with sufficient relevant information.
- The teacher’s occupation is once again seen as prestigious, is highly sought after and well paid. The best students aspire to become teachers, they receive high-quality preparations for their work; once on the job, they have continuous support and training so that they can focus on fully developing their pupils.
- Head teachers are pedagogical leaders, they receive high-quality training, possess sufficient means and a support system, which enables them to develop their teachers and their schools.
- The administrative authorities of schools are competent and responsible for maintaining a high-quality education and are able to support it. Education is seen as a long-term priority for policymakers, which is reflected in their political platforms, and politicians actively promote the creation of an educational system that properly supports everyone.
- The general public supports the view that the Czech Republic should invest more into the quality of public education, this view should be prominent in both public opinion surveys as well as in expert discussions on education.
Because of the variety and range of interests and needs of the involved groups, it is crucial to join forces and find a cross-cutting solution across different sectors.
Our approach is the following:
- With the help of the advisory board, Educhange will identify the priorities which need to be addressed and cannot be solved by an individual or an individual organization. We are committed to employing collective impact principles.
- Invest in the cooperation of various partners who will make use of their know-how and will come up with the best solution for the given priority. Support the creation of pilot program and other initiatives to show how these solutions work in practice. Once the effectiveness of the solutions has been proven, they can be applied to the educational system as a whole.
- As our first priority we have chosen the preparation of a pilot Regional model for educational support, which will result in the improvement of all schools in a selected region in the coming 5 years and thereby an improvement in children’s learning. We want to create, jointly with our expert partners, a model of regional support of education that can be replicated, so that we can offer it as a model to other regions, but also to serve as a source for key insights for policy makers in the field of education. Our aim is not to invent something completely new. Together with our partners, who have been doing excellent work for many years, we want to find a way how to help all schools within the selected region to find a path for their positive development. The model should serve as a replicable model for other Czech regions and should within 5 years lead to the improvement of quality of all schools (preschool through secondary school levels) and thereby improve the quality of education of the children in the region. We will involve children, parents, teachers, head teachers, the administrative authorities of schools, and politicians in the implementation of this process.
We aim to monitor the children’s improvement in three main areas:
- In terms of how they relate to education and school
- Reading, mathematical and natural sciences skills
- Problem solving skills
The Regional model for educational support has the following three main phases:
- May 2019 – December 2019: The model should be finalized by the selected partners, in cooperation with the expert board of the Educhange Foundation and representatives from the selected regions. The implementation region will be chosen on the basis of a separate call for expression of interest. We predict that approx. 5 to 8 regions will take part in the design of the model. By the end of 2019, one specific region will be selected for the implementation of the model.
- January 2020 – August 2020: The communication phase in the selected region will begin in order to ensure and set up cooperation, including regional partners. The basic regional model pilot will be finalized and fine-tuned according to the specifics of the selected region. The pilot model will be implemented by the regional partners with the help of the main partners. The Educhange Foundation will have a support role. At the beginning of this phase, we will ensure proper data collection from the given region in key areas, for further monitoring.
- September 2020 – December 2025: This covers the implementation of the proposed measures and interventions in the selected region, as well as their continuous evaluation and adjustment.
By 2030, we plan to have the model implemented in 20 % of the Czech Republic.
Zdeněk Slejška – Director of the Educhange Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monika Hrochová – Program Coordinator, email@example.com
Lucie Plešková – Expert Consultant, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lenka Marečková – Fundraising manager, email@example.com
Gabriela Ledererová – Fundraising manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
Irma Kisková – Fundraising manager, email@example.com
Martina Pařízková – PR manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
“I have always enjoyed thinking about the system of education in an interconnected manner, what parts influence what in the system and which problems require a solution. Educhange was founded on the fact that we think about education in terms of these connections and at the same time in a realistic way – what can really support change. These are things that appeal to me. And there is also the challenge of coming up with a way to find support for all of this.” Zdeněk Slejška, Director of the Educhange Foundation
The initial impetus for establishing the Educhange Foundation has come from four large foundations (the Avast Foundation, the Česká spořitelna Foundation, the Karel Janeček Foundation and Open Society Fund Prague), all of which have been active in the field of education in the Czech Republic for many years.
As time went by and finances were spent, amazing things happened, but it became more and more obvious that the much-needed larger systemic changes were not going to be achieved in this manner. Therefore, the four foundations decided to combine their experience, know-how and forces by founding Educhange. From the start, they provided financing and will also continue to provide them, however, their commitment alone will not suffice. Recently, the Jablotron Foundation joined the list of our donors and we are currently in discussion with other potential donors in both the Czech Republic and abroad.
“At the Avast Foundation, our work is based on a few basic principles. I will name four of them. Courage, partnership, cooperation and systemic impact. These are all also represented by Educhange. Besides supporting education, we also want to cultivate and innovate the field of philanthropy. We want to signal clearly that large companies, foundations and public institutions can unite and together change something as crucial as the education of children in the 21st century. We believe that thanks to this synergy the impact of our work will be stronger and more sustainable. There is also an added bonus to all this. We are learning a great deal thanks to this partnership.” Martina Břeňová, Director of the Avast Foundation
Changing a complex system of education will take a long time. However, we have decided to join our forces to do this together. Educhange is for us both a decision and an obligation. Because if we do not do this, who else will.
Join us in our efforts. You will be in great company and you will be present for the launch of a major change. And you will be able to influence it. Please contact us for more information or to discuss the various forms of cooperation.