Our Theory of Change
OLE Ghana’s Theory of Change for its Model Innovations in Support of Learning
OLE Ghana’s theory of change emphasizes on a never-ending, iterative cycles of change. Here are the six key steps OLE Ghana is following in developing its learning model:
1. Developing a Center for Educational Innovation. Simply doing more of what has been done before will not meet the goal of delivering quality education and for that matter universal literacy. Something more effective has to happen. However change is difficult, both personally and institutionally. OLE Ghana sees itself as a center for creating innovations and an agent of social change. To be maximally effective, OLE continues to put together a team of entrepreneurs for education with skills in management and finance, human development and learning, communications and media, research and evaluation and government relations who are committed to the long haul that is involved in meaningful systems changes rather than expecting a quick fix with some sort of a “silver bullet.”
2. Identify a problem. For OLE Ghana it is important to identify a specific problem in education for which some measureable improvement can be demonstrated over a reasonably short period of time – two or three years at the most. The initiative must take into consideration root causes and not simply symptoms. Progress toward a more fundamental goal must be possible. OLE Ghana engages the relevant stakeholders, including the communities to be affected from the beginning in identifying the problem to be addressed.
3. Demonstrate an innovation to resolve identified problem. The innovation that is selected must strike a balance between something that seems to have a reasonable chance of generating a significant outcome and, at the same time, that pushes the envelope beyond what has already been tried. OLE Ghana has come to realize that one of the common failures of social interventions is that they provide insufficient time and or resources for the outcomes to be seen. Thus OLE Ghana believes that the innovation must have a clear focus upon which sufficient “dosage” is applied to get the desired effect.
4. Document outcomes. It is not enough to simply have “faith” in an innovation. At OLE Ghana we have seen far too much of that. Evidence of effectiveness or lack thereof, is necessary. For OLE Ghana it is important that both the processes and outcomes must be measured with control groups so that changes can be understood rather than simply believed. However, in the early stages of invention it is important to manage the innovation as an exploration rather than as a scientific experiment. OLE Ghana believes that the goal should be to get a positive outcome, doing legally whatever is it takes to get that outcome. Sorting out ways to make that desirable outcome more cost-effective and more scalable are important issues to examine once there is a significant outcome to debate.
5. Persuade government. Quality universal education and for that matter universal literacy can only be achieved by a strong and effective commitment on the part of the public sector. While non-governmental bodies, such as OLE Ghana, can supplement some aspects of public education and can, as in this case, provide evidence of ways to improve learning, the private sector can never reach all children. Therefore a key part of OLE Ghana’s theory of change is to invest substantial time, resources and skill in persuading government, at all levels and agencies, to adopt those innovations that have been proven to be effective and scalable. Often the data, by themselves, are not sufficient to carry the day. OLE Ghana clearly understands that efforts to persuade must take into account the fact that political decisions are driven by relationships and emotions as well as by data.
6. Share Learnings and Resources. OLE’s theory of change emphasizes the importance of openly sharing both learnings and resources on as wide a basis as possible. The rapid evolution of open education resources (OER) at the university level is beginning to have traction at the elementary and secondary level and will certainly grow to the basic level as well. It is in the light of this that OLE Ghana is seeking to share its learnings and resources even beyond the borders of Ghana