Lha Skills Building Program Evaluation Report April 2015
Table of Contents Acknowledgements................................................................................................................................
2. Methodology...................................................................................................................................... 2.1 Document Review........................................................................................................................ 2.2 Data Gathering............................................................................................................................
6 6 6
3. Findings............................................................................................................................................. 3.1 Effectiveness and Relevance of current structure of skills building program.............................. 3.2 Benefits of Skills Building Programs for Students....................................................................... 3.2.1 Students reach desired proficiency/communication level in language of choice.................. 3.2.2 Increased self-esteem, confidence and personal competence............................................ 3.3.3 Enhanced employment opportunities for students............................................................... 3.2.4 Enhanced capacity for communication & engagement with friends & family....................... 3.2.5 Increased personal growth including changed attitudes to learning..................................... 3.3 Benefits of Skills Building Program for Volunteers......................................................................
7 7 10 10 11 11 12 13 13
3.4 Benefits of Skills Building Program for Lha.................................................................................
3.5 Problems identified in Program and Areas in Need of Improvement........................................... Student Perspectives 3.5.1 Lack of Continuity in Teachers.............................................................................................. 3.5.2 Quality of Teachers................................................................................................................ 3.5.3 Lack of Common Text Books................................................................................................. 3.5.4 Conversation Classes............................................................................................................ 3.5.5 Quality of Classrooms............................................................................................................ Teacher Perspectives 3.5.6 Class Levels........................................................................................................................... 3.5.7 Erratic Student Attendance..................................................................................................... 3.5.8 Volunteer Teacher Orientation and Briefing........................................................................... 3.5.9 Limited Resources................................................................................................................... Lha Perspective 3.5.10 Reliance on Volunteers.......................................................................................................... 3.5.11 Student lack of Direction........................................................................................................ 3.5.12 Management of Information................................................................................................... 3.5.13 Space Limitations..................................................................................................................
3.6 Sustainability of the Program..........................................................................................................
16 17 17 18 18 18 19 19 20 20 20 21 21
Annexes 1. Evaluation Plan......................................................................................................................................
2. List of Informants...................................................................................................................................
3. Collated Date from 2012 Student Survey & Evaluation Key Informant Interviews.................................
Acknowledgements This evaluation would not have been possible without the cooperation of a great number of people. Firstly, the evaluators would like to particularly thank all those who agreed to be interviewed: current and past students; current volunteer teachers; teachers external to the Lha program; and Lha staff. The open and honest responses of all those interviewed were very much appreciated â€“ we learnt a lot from all those who were willing to contribute their thoughts and ideas. Secondly, the evaluators would like to express particular thanks to the Lha management, especially Ngawang Rabgyal and Dukthen Kyi who took time out of their already busy schedules to meet with us and set up the interviews. The Lha Education Coordinator, Samten ??, graciously allowed us to use her library office space for interviews and was very helpful in identifying and contacting prospective informants. Likewise, the Computer Instructor, Tamdin Yangzom, assisted in identifying informants and contacting them to arrange interviews. Without this support it would not have been possible to include the depth and breadth of views from such a range of informants in the evaluation. Marion Brown Mike Crooke [Volunteer Evaluators]
Executive Summary The Skills Building Program is an integral component of the program of work provided by Lha to improve the quality of life for Tibetan refugees and people from the Himalayan regions. The program commenced in 2003 and has been expanding, both in numbers of students reached and courses on offer, since this time. Currently the program comprises classes in languages (English, French, Chinese & German, with Spanish and Tibetan also sometimes on offer) and computer classes. Vocational training in yoga, massage therapy and photography have been taught, when volunteer specialist trainers have been available to conduct these classes. In 2014 Lha provided language classes for 2,677 students; enrolled 796 new students in language classes; and hosted 171 students in Beginner and Intermediate level computer classes. The Lha Skills Building Program is dependent on teaching by volunteers, most from overseas, some who have qualifications and some who do not. With the availability of two volunteers from Australia with experience in program evaluation, an evaluation of the Skills Building Program was undertaken in March 2015. The purpose of the evaluation was to both assess program achievements, and focus on gathering and analysing data in a way that would encourage ongoing reflection and innovation leading to program improvements. The objectives of the evaluation were to: (i) assess the achievements of the program against the goal and outcomes; (ii) identify program strengths, challenges and lessons learned; (iii) assess the effectiveness of the program provided by Lha; and (iv) provide realistic recommendations for further ongoing implementation of the program. A combination of methods was utilised to evaluate program performance and outcomes of the program. Data collection components included: document review; key informant interviews; and observation. Informants were selected, using purposive and snowball sampling, and based on consultation meetings with the Lha team. Data was analysed according to potential program outcomes identified in the draft program framework. The report was drafted by the evaluators and revised after feedback from Lha staff. The evaluation confirmed that the current structure of the Lha skills building program was, on the whole, effective and relevant to the needs of students. The findings showed that, in general, students were satisfied with the courses that Lha had on offer and there were no major gaps or missing courses. Skills building courses are a major draw card for students choosing to study at Lha; students are attracted to Lha due to its central and convenient location, its flexible course schedules that run for most of the year, and low tuition fees. The evaluation found that students had benefited considerably through studying at Lha. Almost unanimously students reported that their language skills had improved; all could now speak their language(s) of choice more easily. Students were generally more ready to talk with foreigners and share their ideas, especially about Tibetan culture and situation. Alongside improved language skills, students reported increased self-esteem, confidence and belief in themselves, which they attributed to studying and improved skills. This was true for students studying a language(s), computer studies or both. Students also reported and provided practical examples of enhanced employment opportunities resulting from their studies. Students spoke highly of the computer classes offered through Lha, commenting on the effectiveness of course delivery methods and the positive change in their lives that followed from having reasonable computer skills. Increased networks and friendships and greater links within the community were also found to be significant benefits that led to improved quality of life for students. For volunteer teachers, the rewards and benefits from their involvement with the Lha program, were equally as impressive. Teachers reported that the teaching experience was rewarding and satisfying. The â€œfeel good factorâ€? was a driver in their reasons for volunteering but, through the experience many seemed to gain more than they expected, learning a lot about themselves and their personal values. Lha is well known for its skills building program and, thus, the benefits to the organisation of this program were found to be invaluable. The program attracts and utilises hundreds of volunteers each year and students come from across India and the wider Himalayan region to attend courses. The program enhances the reputation and influence of the organisation and the Tibetan cause, immeasurably.
The Lha skills building program has been improved over time; however, the findings were clear that there is room for further improvement. Problems that were identified and in need of improvement included: lack of continuity of teachers; variances in the quality of teaching; no systematic means of determining class levels; lack of a common text book for some languages and levels; a classroom environment not conducive for teaching and learning; overcrowded and poorly facilitated conversation classes; erratic student attendance; barely adequate volunteer briefings; limited resources; and no vocational/educational guidance available for students. The evaluation concludes with a series of recommendations which aim to address some of the problems identified with the current program. In summary, these recommendations are as follows: 1. That the one page logic model of the program be examined, adjusted as necessary, and then confirmed as the basis of future program monitoring. In this way continual improvements can be made to the program as opportunities and resources become available. 2. That a simple system of pre-testing of students be introduced to assess the correct level at which a student should be studying. This will make the task of teaching easier, the rate of progress is likely to be faster, and levels of frustrations for all concerned will be lower. 3. That a system of regular testing of students be administered at the end of each three month course block and that graduation to the next level be subject to a satisfactory ‘Pass’ at the level being studied. 4. That students be required to make a commitment to minimal attendance on a course of study [probably 3 months] in order to not disrupt continuity of teaching required to always bring absentees up to speed. 5. That students would benefit from guidance about the availability of educational and vocational training programs available to them. Lha could be in a position to gather such information and provide students with valuable vocational guidance. 6. Volunteer selection & recruitment. Classroom teachers should continue to be selected on the basis of: (i) length of intended stay [this should be at least one month + preferably three months]; (ii) having an appropriate teaching qualification and/or experience. 7. Volunteer contracts. That classroom teachers should be required to sign a simple contract that states roles and responsibilities of, both the volunteer teacher to Lha and its students, as well as responsibilities of Lha to the volunteer teacher. 8. Appropriate preparation of volunteers. That selected volunteers should be provided with a detailed briefing prior to arrival, on: available resources; current teaching approaches & methodologies; curriculum availability; handover requirements; and basic information about their class, where decided. 9. That suitably qualified volunteers are sought through the Lha website, seeking professional support for the development of still-needed language text books. 10. That, through the existing volunteer alumni, a ‘drive’ specifically aimed at collecting a range of appropriate resources is activated. 11. That a new approach to effectively managing the English language conversation classes be considered for the peak volunteer season. 12. That conversation classes for all languages be available, especially for Chinese. 13. That, with the support of current volunteers, the classrooms are renovated to improve the teaching and learning environment. 14. That all returning students and volunteers be given information about Tibet support networks in their own countries, providing a possible avenue for involvement. This could also include suggestions on how they might practically assist Lha’s work in the future. 15. That particularly enthusiastic and committed volunteers could be invited to become the facilitators of an “email hub” within their own country, with the aim of keeping members informed and seeking ways to support Lha from a distance. 16. That volunteers with specific professional networks [e.g. teachers who are linked to language training networks - English as a foreign language, French as a foreign language, etc] be encouraged to promote Lha as a potential volunteer language training opportunity for those seeking such an experience. Whilst this list of recommendations may appear quite long, it is unlikely that the time and resources will be available to implement them all. It should be seen as a list of ways in which the program may be improved. Implementation of any of these recommendations would improve the program. It should be stated that the program is working well overall, however continuous improvement should be seen as an ongoing goal. 5
1. Introduction The Skills Building Program is an integral component of the program of work provided by Lha to improve the quality of life for Tibetan refugees and people from the Himalayan regions. Since 2003 Lha has been offering English language and Computer classes, which expanded to classes in Tibetan, Spanish, Chinese and French language courses after the move to its current location in 2008. In addition, vocational training in yoga, massage therapy and photography have been taught, when volunteer specialist trainers have been available to conduct these classes. The 2014 Annual Report states that, in 2014, Lha provided language classes for 2,677 students, based on monthly attendance; enrolled 796 new students in language classes; and hosted 171 students in Beginner and Intermediate level computer classes. The Lha Skills Building Program is dependent on teaching by volunteers, most from overseas, some who have qualifications and experience and some who are just visitors to the area. With the availability of two volunteers from Australia with experience in program evaluation, Lha decided to undertake some program evaluations, selecting both the Cultural Exchange and the Skills Building Programs for review. The purpose of the evaluations was not only to assess program achievements, but also to focus on gathering and analysing data in a way that would encourage ongoing reflection and innovation leading to program improvements. With this in mind, the evaluation of the Skills Building Program adopted an improvements-oriented approach. The objectives of the evaluation were to: (v) assess the achievements of the program against the goal and outcomes; (vi) identify program strengths, challenges and lessons learned; (vii) assess the effectiveness of the program provided by Lha; and (viii) provide realistic recommendations for further ongoing implementation of the program. It was envisaged that the evaluation would be a learning process and another step towards strengthening the capacity of Lha in implementation and management of its programs. The evaluation was conducted over a four week period in February and March 2015.
2. Methodology The evaluation methodology employed was designed to be flexible, but have sufficient rigour to ensure that all or most of the required data was captured. An evaluation plan (see Annex 1), including draft question guides, was drafted, reviewed and adjusted by the Lha team, and approved for implementation. Using purposive sampling, informant groups were identified in consultation with the Lha team (see Annex 2). The Lha team took responsibility for contacting potential informants once the groups had been identified. 2.1 Document Review The evaluators reviewed all the available documents relevant to the program, including documents on the website, surveys completed by students in 2012 (100), and volunteer exit surveys completed for the period from 2012 to 2014 (124). The information from the 100 student surveys was collated and analysed as part of the report. In addition the evaluators reviewed current technical and strategic documents related to volunteer programs through a rapid literature review on the internet. Using all of this this information the evaluators drafted a one page program overview, summarising the objectives, potential outcomes and activities of the program. This draft, based on both current practice and international approaches to cultural exchange programs, was tested for its validity as part of the evaluation process. 2.2 Data Gathering The evaluators prepared an email survey that was circulated to past Lha volunteers, using the Lha database. This survey was sent out to relevant elist by the Lha Volunteer Coordinator, comprising a list of approximately 150 email addresses. Surprisingly, and unfortunately, no responses were received, even though a reminder email was sent one week after the initial email request. The evaluators believe that the elist was in some way technically compromised. However, as part of the data collection the evaluators were able to collate and analyse the exit surveys from 124 volunteers, providing valuable feedback from past volunteers. 6
In addition, the evaluators conducted key informant interviews with: - current students (17), from both languages and computer groups; - past students (16); - current teachers (9), both Tibetan and foreigners; - past teachers (1); - Lha staff (4); and - a teacher from another language centre. Question guides were prepared and used for these interviews. Before leaving McLeodganj the evaluators presented the draft findings and draft recommendations to Lha staff at an after-work meeting. This session provided an opportunity for staff to hear emerging findings and discuss or challenge these findings. The data was then further reduced and summarised under key themes by the evaluators. This process brought together the document summary notes, survey data, and the transcript notes from the group and key informant interviews. Using colour coding, the data was then further clustered into sub-sets under each theme, in preparation for writing the report. The process of data reduction continued with the writing of the report. The draft report, drawing on the findings, was then prepared by the evaluators. The Lha team reviewed the draft and provided feedback. Using this feedback, the evaluators finalised the document. Final evaluation findings will be circulated as determined by the Lha Director.
3. Findings 3.1 Effectiveness and relevance of current structure of skills building program The goal of the Lha Skills Building Program is: to provide meaningful, multi-levelled education services for the Tibetan refugee community in India, the local Indian population and people from nearby Himalayan regions. As there is currently no overall framework that outlines the program, along with its objectives and indicators for measurement of progress, the evaluation commenced with documenting a draft framework (see below) which was then â€˜testedâ€™ during the interviews with informants to verify its accuracy in reflecting the current program. The framework lists skills building courses that are on offer through Lha. This framework needs to be reviewed and amended where necessary so that it can be a guiding document for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the program. A major limitation of the current Lha course offerings is the reliance on volunteers. Even though Tibetan teachers are hired from time to time to ensure classes are ongoing, especially for English and Chinese language classes, the classes provided are very much dependent on the volunteers available. For courses such as massage therapy and photography, Lha only allows volunteers with recognised qualifications and experience to offer these courses. But, surprisingly, for the language classes, any native speaker of a language can be accepted as a class teacher, with selection based more on the volunteerâ€™s length of stay rather than other criterion. This reliance on volunteers results in the overall effectiveness of the course structure constantly changing as the courses on offer change and the quality of teaching varies from one volunteer to the next.
Lha Skills Building Program Goal of the Program: To provide meaningful, multi-levelled education services for the Tibetan refugee community in India, the local Indian population and people from nearby Himalayan regions. Objectives of the Program 1. To provide teaching and tuition in Tibetan and key international languages in order to meet the communication needs of students undertaking the courses. 2. To provide teaching and tuition in Information Technology skills to meet the personal and vocational needs of students. 3. To provide a range of short-term courses in response to both the personal needs of students (e.g. yoga, cooking, etc) and the skills available from available volunteers. 4. To ease the transition of Tibetan refugees into life in India and strengthen their skills-base and confidence in seeking employment. 5. To provide meaningful opportunities for volunteers to Lha, as language teachers/tutors and/or teachers in other skills building areas. RANGE OF SKILLS BUILDING COURSES ON OFFER LANGUAGES
- Tibetan – reading and writing
Computer skills – beginner & intermediate
- Reception and orientation services for new refugees and students coming from other countries for study
- Yoga training
Massage therapy vocational training
- Cooking classes
- English – elementary, beginner, intermediate, advanced and conversation. Classes based on LHA developed text book. - Chinese – beginner and intermediate - Spanish - French
- Special classes on demand and/or availability of tutors
Potential Outcomes of the Program 1.
Students reach their desired proficiency/communication level in their language of choice. Indicators: - Number of students enrolling in language courses with the Lha. - Number of students demonstrating improved language competency in the regular assessment task. - Number of students who leave Lha classes expressing satisfaction with the classes and with their language proficiency.
Increased self-esteem, confidence and personal competence of students as a result of participation in LHA courses. Indicators: - Extent to which learner has a sense of self and a belief in being able to put their capabilities into action. - Extent to which learner believes their skills level has improved as a result of Lha courses.
Enhanced employment opportunities for students as a result of the learning with LHA. Indicators: - Number of learners who are successful in finding employment as a result of enhanced skills levels attributed to Lha courses. - Number of post-course learners who have the skills and confidence to apply for or seek out employment opportunities.
Students have the capacity to communicate and engage with family, friends & colleagues as a result of enhanced computer skills. Indicators: - Extent of learners’ interaction with other individuals in the family, at work and at sites such as schools, government offices, and shops. - Extent of community participation of learners and their involvement in networks, clubs, the temple, and other social situations.
Increased personal growth of students, including changed attitudes to learning, resulting from new skills learnt through programs. Indicators: - Extent of learner’s attitude towards current and future learning, and ability to learn how to learn - Extent of learners’ goals and ambitions, and expectations of where life will lead. - Extent to which learner perceives they have grown and/or changed as a person.
Increased understanding of the situation for Tibetan refugees and a meaningful experience for volunteer teachers/tutors to Lha. Indicators: - Number of volunteers who express/demonstrate increased understanding of the situation of Tibetan refugees/settlers. - Number of volunteers who report that volunteer experience with Lha was meaningful and how this experience might be applied in their future life.
The relevance of the current structure of Lha skills building courses, however, does not seem to be in question. The findings showed that, in general, students were satisfied with the courses that Lha had on offer and there were no major gaps or missing courses, other than suggestions from individual students, for further courses. The reasons why students choose to study with Lha are outlined in Table 1 below:
Table 1: Reasons Students Study with Lha Reason for studying with Lha
To study/learn English 2 x want to explain Tibetan Buddhism to foreigners To study languages Lha recommended by friends/contacts Heard Lha was good/ good reputation/helps Tibetan community To study/improve Chinese (want to return to Tibet someday) To study French Courses are cheaper than other organisations/free/some scholarships
To study English and Chinese No opportunity to go to school when young To get knowledge/educate myself Choice and availability of subjects – can take a number of classes Quality of courses – although depends on teachers Good schedule/timetable Convenient location – in centre of town Continuous classes – no closure for winter – only closed 11 days p.a. No work so have time to study – nothing else to do To learn computers One-on-one tuition available To study Spanish To communicate/explore outside world
5 5 5
12 1 4 9 8 2
9 6 5
5 4 4 4 4 2 2 2 1 1
The Table shows that language classes, especially English language classes, are a major drawcard for students choosing to study at Lha. Lha also has a well-deserved reputation for providing services to the Tibetan refugee and other local communities, so the organisation is viewed as having the best interests of the community as the driver for its work. Lha’s central and convenient location, its flexible course schedules that run for most of the year and low tuition fees are also factors that attract students to the organisation. The results of the 2012 student survey (see Tables 2, 3 & 4 below) show that students are, on the whole, very satisfied with the services provided by Lha. Of the 100 informants, 87 rate Lha’s services as good, very good or excellent, with only 10 rating the services as ‘average’. The rating of the overall experience is a little different to this, with 75 rating the experience as ‘good’ or ‘satisfying’ and 23 rating the experience as ‘average’. It is not clear why there is a slight discrepancy in feedback about rating of services and overall experience. While it would be useful to further explore the overall experience feedback question in future surveys, it is clear that the majority of students are satisfied with Lha as an organisation and the services is provides. Table 2
Rating of Lha’s services (N = 100) Poor 0 Average 10 Good 37 Very Good 35 Excellent 15
Lha’s services help daily life? (N = 100) Yes No 90 5
Rate overall experience with Lha (N = 100) Bad 0 Average 23 Good 59 Satisfying 16
In the interviews, student informants reported that the aspects of the Lha classes/services that they particularly liked and appreciated were:
Conversation classes: (4) – as these sessions provided an opportunity to meet people; to talk in smaller groups; and to identify a personal tutor. One student was particularly upfront about how he uses these sessions to ‘assess’ the volunteers available to choose one or two to then approach for personal tuition.
Volunteer Teachers: (4) Lha attracts many, considerably more than other organisations. As such, this then provides an excellent opportunity to meet and talk with foreigners. Assistance & Services: (4) Lha helps students with annual registration and services, such as soup kitchen (4). The annual registration is an important Indian government regulatory requirement for many of students and the letters of study confirmation from Lha assist are key to this process. The soup kitchen provides a nutritious daily meal for those students who have a meagre income. One informant reported, for example: "The Lha community helps me to face my day-to-day challenges and I’m very grateful indeed." (English student) Teachers: (3) While it was generally agreed that most of the teachers are very friendly, three informants noted that some of the teachers are highly skilled and experienced. However, as can be seen in Section 3.5.2, some informants noted that the quality of teachers is highly variable, with some not meeting the standards required. Flexible Timetable: The timetable at Lha is flexible, two informants noting that they liked the fact that they could choose their own classes and level. As is reported later, though, this is also the root cause of a number of problems for the courses. Computer Training: The computer classes offer high quality teaching through and experienced teacher who has been with the program for many years. The clearly defined one month duration for both the basic and intermediate classes encourages strong attendance. Informants commented that the approach of using foreign volunteers, when available, to complement the teaching of the regular teacher was effective. In cases where the foreign teacher was leading the teaching then the regular teacher, Tamdin Yangzom, was able to provide high level translation as needed. There was consensus that this model worked well. In addition, the post-course availability of Yangzom for advice and trouble-shooting of problems was greatly appreciated. The feedback about these courses is summed up in the following quote from the 2012 student survey: "The computer education Lha is providing is awesome. I always appreciate their work, especially in this field."
These points demonstrate the strengths of the current program and the way it is structured. Within this structure there is room for improvement and suggestions for this are outlined in Section 3.5 below. 3.2
Benefits of Skills Building Program for Students
The findings related to benefits or outcomes for students from the program are discussed below in relation to the potential outcomes listed in the framework in Section 3.1. 3.2.1 Students reach desired proficiency/communication level in language of choice. Almost unanimously students reported that their language skills had improved; all could now speak their language(s) of choice more easily. Whilst it was true that most students interviewed had not reached their desired level of proficiency in the language(s) they were learning, there was acceptance that this was a matter of time and additional practice. All those interviewed commented that, as a result of classes, they were generally more ready to talk with foreigners and share their ideas, especially about Tibetan culture and situation. The conversation classes and one-on-one tuition sessions were particularly helpful in broadening the students’ understanding of less formal English. Some informants were particularly pleased that they could now speak with Indians, as English was the common language they shared. The improvement in language skills is summed up in the stories of change below: Hard Work Leads to Results Since coming to Lha I have totally changed. Before I came here I was a very shy person. I had never met foreigners and talked to them. Since studying English with Lha I am not so shy. If you know a little English then you feel more confident. I used to be more awkward when I met people. Now I want to talk to foreigners, I want to spend time with them. [Male student] Within one year of studying at Lha my French has greatly improved. I can now send messages to my friends on Facebook. My friends reply and tell me that my French is improving, they can see that it is getting better. This makes me very happy. [Male student]
3.2.2 Increased self-esteem, confidence and personal competence Alongside improved language skills, all students interviewed reported increased self-esteem, confidence and belief in themselves, which they attributed to studying and improved skills. This was true for students studying a language(s), computer studies or both. For some students Lha was their first formal educational experience, and so the gains in confidence and self-belief were particularly poignant and heartfelt in these instances. The growth in confidence and personal competence was not only due to the formal studies but also in having the opportunity to learn about other cultures and peoples. Students explained that they felt stronger as people due to the improved skills and that they very much valued having the means to communicate with foreigners so that they could pass on their personal stories and the ‘true history’ of the Tibetan struggle and the current situation in Tibet. The stories below capture the personal accounts of change, as a result of their studies: Lha helps me change my life Before I came to classes at Lha, I was very shy to speak with many people. At Lha I have studied both English and Chinese and I have learnt a lot of things. I have also met many new people, those who are foreigners as well as many new Tibetan friends. Now when I am in a group I am not afraid to speak what I think. I am more confident and stronger as a person. [Female student] Honestly Sharing Personal Experiences in Lha Classes When I first came here to participate in Lha classes I felt a little ashamed, my confidence was low. I was silent in conversation classes, I would just listen. But recently, because of the classes, I have been speaking up, I am not so shy and I have more vocabulary. Each day I can learn more and more about the culture of foreigners. I have also made many friends – both Tibetan and foreigners. I am very interested in learning about foreign cultures and so the conversation class gives me a chance for this. [Male student] Before, when I started study, I was very shy to speak. Since taking the classes I am better and I have become more confident – it is much better now. I am very happy about this. [Female student] Four months ago I was ignorant about French. Since studying with Lha I can now speak and write a few lines. Now I am happy to see French speakers and to learn about their culture from them. Through Lha I have met people from different countries. This has inspired me a lot - we can share our own cultures. This has helped me feel fulfilled in my daily life. [Male student] Before 2012 I couldn’t speak English, I was very shy. After one month studying English in the Beginner class I joined the conversation classes, but I didn’t say anything. But after 2-3 years of study I am now not shy, I have more confidence, and I can share my ideas. I feel happy when I am together with people. I also believe that I can continue to improve. The personal tutors that I have had from Lha have really helped, not only with English but with providing advice to me as a person. [Female student]
One student commented that Lha had had a profound effect on him as a person, making him more measured and at peace as a person; an important outcome indeed for the organisation: Before studying at Lha I was a very shy man and couldn’t easily speak to people. But, through coming to Lha, I have learnt many things. Now I am more passionate. In Tibet I was quite aggressive, there was ‘something inside’ making me angry. Since being here and through the teachings of HH Dalai Lama, I now understand and don’t have this “thing inside”. I am now more peaceful and passionate. [Male student]
3.2.3 Enhanced employment opportunities In the interviews, a number of students reported how their studies (computer and languages) had assisted them in their employment. Currently Lha does not have a system for tracking students after they leave courses and so it is difficult, other than anecdotally, to know how students apply the skills learnt in Lha classes. Some students, however, explained that they were using their language skills in work in local cafes and businesses. Some students are teaching in organisations, including part-time and volunteer teaching at Lha when it is available. Students also mentioned that they planned to use their language skills in work as tourist guides or interpreters, either in Dharamsala or in other parts of the Himalayas, especially in Ladakh. In the interviews many students commented that they hoped to return to Tibet in the future, where they could use their language skills to teach. 11
The computer courses have been very helpful for students, with some mentioning that they have applied these skills in their role as a magazine editor or journalist. In the interviews it was clear that students accepted that computer skills were necessary for a range of different employment opportunities, not necessarily dedicated computer-based work. The story of change below reflects how one student is applying the computer skills learnt at Lha in his area of employment and his plans for extending this knowledge into the future: Change my Life! In 2010 when I came to Dharamsala I couldnâ€™t speak English or Chinese and I couldnâ€™t use computers. Then I studied the Basic Computer course with Lha for one month, as well as studying English and Beginner Chinese and slowly my skills started to improve. In 2013 I went to Mysore in South India to work on a Tibetan magazine, so I used my computer skills. In 2014, I returned to Dharamsala and, with 3 friends, we started a magazine, written in Tibetan, about Tibetan language and society. The magazine, which is produced annually, includes the stories from a writing competition. In 2014 I also studied the Intermediate Computer course. Now my computer skills are much better and I can use many programs on the computer. In the future I aim to be the one who designs the cover of the magazine. As well, I want to design a website for the magazine. [Male student]
The vocational courses in photography and massage therapy, provided by Lha from time to time when qualified tutors are available, have also led to employment opportunities for students. Staff reported that they know of instances where past graduates of these courses have gone on to use these skills in their work as photographic journalists or in specialist massage centres. This could not be verified in the evaluation as it was not possible to locate any of these graduates. In the 2012 student survey, one respondent did note that the Lha massage course and photography programs are very innovative, and provide awareness amongst the Tibetan community. So, it would seem that the courses are of a high standard. It would be useful for Lha to track these students postcourse to see how they are applying the skills learnt. 3.2.4 Enhanced capacity for communication and engagement with friends & family The evaluation findings clearly showed that the Lha computer classes are highly valued by students. Many of the students who do the one month Basic level course, have not previously used a computer, meaning that the course has to start with typing skills and very basic computer functions. By the end of the Basic and Intermediate courses students have been taught how to use a range of programs, including Microsoft Office, email, Photoshop, the internet and various social networking programs (Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc). The Lha computer teacher was able to provide numerous examples of students who have experienced profound change over the course of the computer classes. The change is not limited to capacity with computers, but also includes increased personal confidence. Some students, who have been reliant on others for communication with family and friends who are living in different parts of the world, are suddenly able to communicate more independently, frequently and immediately with their contacts. This is very liberating and confidence building. A number of students provided stories describing the way they have been able to help others through their improved computer skills. For example the story below describes the change in a female student from both her language and computer studies with Lha: Building my Skills I finished school in 2012 and then I went to Delhi for a year. When I returned to Dharamsala I decided to start studying English at Lha. At that time I was very shy, I didnâ€™t speak to people as I was scared. After time in the Advanced English and conversation classes I found it much easier to talk to people. I am now much more confident with my English. In 2014 I also completed the one month Intermediate Computer class at Lha. At school I had learnt basic computer skills and so I could type and use email, etc. The Lha course took me to another level with computers. I learnt basic things like how to eject USBs safely from the computer, as well as new programs, such as Photoshop. I can now use the computer confidently. I can help people in various ways, such as putting together their family tree, and I can make my own cards and decorations using the Photoshop program. I am now keen to learn more, especially web design, so that I can create my own website. [Female student]
With their improved computer skills, many students can do their own research on the internet. According to the computer teacher, this has opened a whole new world for students â€“ it has been a revelation for them! The teacher also reported that some students who learn the design packages are able to design flyers, brochures, posters, etc. These are very useful skills that they can use for their personal needs and advocacy work. The teacher commented: When students have these skills they feel happy and it motivates them to learn more. These skills open up opportunities for them and broadens their thinking about what they can do. 3.2.5 Increased personal growth, including changed attitudes to learning Although more nebulous to define, a number of informants did refer to increased personal growth and changed attitudes to learning as a result of studying with Lha. Many students mentioned the personal challenges they faced due to being alone in McLeodganj, without having any family nearby for support. In most cases, families were still living in Tibet, meaning that these students had not even seen their family for many years. New World For Me When I was at school at TCV in South India, there were many teachers who cared for us and looked out for us, helping us with our studies. But since leaving school, I am alone, by myself. Here in McLeodganj I have met many people from different countries and made many friends, both foreigners and Tibetans. Even though life is difficult for me, as everything is so expensive, I am now happy because I have friends and can play lots of sport. [Male student]
For one student (see story in box below), the skills learnt at Lha had helped her connect with others in her community. Improving my competence in English When I was at the Transit School, I could read and write in English but not speak. It was only through my studies at Lha that I started to â€œopen my mouthâ€™ and my speaking and comprehension started to improve. There has now been a big change. I have the confidence to speak English. I have become stronger. Whoever I meet I am ready to speak English. Some neighbours and friends have asked me to write letters in English for them. I feel good to be able to help them. It has led to me having greater networks in my own community. [Female student]
The networks and friendships, both Tibetan and foreign, provided through Lha were therefore described as being vital for many students in helping them with their overall wellbeing and psychological support. Lha was described as a good place to make friends and useful contacts. The tailored, one-on-one personal tuition sessions provided not only individualised conversation practice but, in many cases, also expanded the horizons of students. Some tutors, for example, took students to the cinema sessions in McLeodganj. For one student this was the first time she had ever been to the cinema and so she was delighted by the whole experience, including the film Kundun, based on the life and writings of the 14th Dalai Lama. In other instances, students talked about these sessions as a chance to discuss areas of personal interest, such as science, economics and Buddhist philosophy. One student mentioned that, having missed out on formal education as a child, he was able to take an old science textbook along to these sessions and thereby expand his knowledge of science as well as increase his English language vocabulary. 3.3
Benefits of Skills Building Program for Volunteers
The findings showed that the skills building program has been a meaningful and rewarding experience for most volunteers. The analysis of the 2012-2014 Volunteer Exit Surveys (see Table 5 below) outlines the main benefits that were identified by the volunteers.
Table 5: How Volunteers Have Benefitted from Lha Experience, Volunteer Exit Surveys 2012-2014 [disaggregated by age] Volunteers born 1988 and after Increased my awareness of the Tibetan situation & struggle Increased my knowledge of Tibetan culture & philosophy Increased my feeling of social responsibility Increased my feeling of a global community Helped me develop new social service skills and ideas Increased my self-confidence and interpersonal skills Helped me develop a social network with other volunteers Given me a way to stay involved once I'm home
Average score out of 10 9.32 8.76 8.26 8.10 7.56 7.04 6.56 5.60
Volunteers born between 1968/ 1988 Increased my awareness of the Tibetan situation & struggle Increased my knowledge of Tibetan culture & philosophy Increased my feeling of a global community Increased my feeling of social responsibility Increased my self-confidence and interpersonal skills Helped me develop new social service skills and ideas Helped me develop a social network with other volunteers Given me a way to stay involved once I'm home
Average score out of 10 8.68 8.42 8.40 8.02 7.04 6.91 6.46 5.95
Volunteers born before 1968 Increased my awareness of the Tibetan situation & struggle Increased my knowledge of Tibetan culture & philosophy Increased my feeling of a global community Increased my feeling of social responsibility Increased my self-confidence and interpersonal skills Helped me develop new social service skills and ideas Given me a way to stay involved once I'm home Helped me develop a social network with other volunteers
Average score out of 10 8.42 8.26 7.65 6.92 6.73 6.11 5.96 5.30
As can be seen from the Table, awareness of the Tibetan situation and struggle, and knowledge of Tibetan culture and philosophy both scored very highly indeed in all age brackets. The obvious thing about this exercise is that consciously or not, Lha is building up an impressive alumni of volunteers, BUT it is doing nothing with them. The lowest scoring item on almost every questionnaire was in response to "Given me a way to stay involved once I'm home." The other area that scored low by comparison was in relation to the statement, "Helped me develop a social network with other volunteers", this is also supported by the statements made in response to how to improve things. The responses to the four other issues canvassed were also interesting, they were:
Increased my feeling of a global community; Increased my feeling of social responsibility; Increased my self-confidence and interpersonal skills; 14
Helped me develop new social service skills and ideas;
These generally scored lowest amongst volunteers aged 47 and up [born before 1968]. Then, the next age group, 26 - 46 years, scored them slightly higher, and the final group, volunteers aged below 26 years, scored them highest. This would make sense in that younger people are still finding their way in the world, whereas older people have already developed many of these attributes and values. The interviews with current and past teachers, both volunteers and paid local teachers, produced findings in line with this survey analysis. Overseas volunteer teachers commented that the cultural exchange aspects of the volunteering were of particular importance. Through getting to know some students very well they therefore had the opportunity to learn about Tibetan culture and history through personal stories and struggles. One teacher enjoyed observing the similarities and differences in young people in the McLeodganj community with young people in her own country. Most teachers viewed the opportunity to teach as a privilege, providing relations with people that otherwise would not be so readily available. This was summed up by one teacher who reflected: "Through language you can enter into their world. The relationships are incredibly rewarding." All the teachers interviewed commented on how students were enthusiastic, motivated, patient and keen to learn. The personal interaction with students and their eagerness to learn and ask questions made the teaching experience very rewarding. For example, one teacher commented: "It is very satisfying and gratifying as a teacher that I can contribute to the learning of the students." Another said: "It is a pleasure to try to give them something!" Teachers enjoyed becoming, for a short time, part of another, different community. Some of the teachers interviewed had taught at Lha in previous years and continued to return because they had found the experience so fulfilling. One teacher of French, for example, commented: "Some students take the studies very seriously. It is such a pleasure to come back and learn that students from last year have moved overseas. I am seeing the results of my teaching." Undoubtedly the “feel good factor” was a driving force compelling many to volunteer with Lha. Volunteering is very satisfying, and volunteers reported learning a lot, not only about their students, but about themselves, through their interactions. They enjoyed the feeling of helping a community, and, in particular, the Tibetan community because of the struggles the community has had over the past number of decades. Teachers reported feeling important, having personal recognition again, especially older teachers who felt that their skills were no longer recognised in their home countries. Another benefit for many volunteers related to the experience they gained as teachers. Some volunteers had never taught before and so the experience with Lha gave the valuable and credible teaching experience that they could potentially use elsewhere. A number of teachers reported that, through teaching the Lha classes, their teaching skills had noticeably improved, both in understanding of their own language and its structure and in teaching pedagogy. Both volunteer foreign teachers as well as locally hired Tibetan teachers (teaching on the foreign language program) said that the need to prepare lessons helped them to be better teachers. Some teachers were teaching in their second language and, in these cases, the teaching helped them to maintain and sometimes improve their language skills in this second language. Three teachers also mentioned that the Lha teaching gave them experience teaching adults in a refugee situation – skills that they thought might be useful in future volunteering experiences. One Tibetan teacher, who had taught in the past on the English language program summed up the value of the experience to her: "In all my years of study, at school and college, my volunteer experience taught me more than all these formal studies combined. It has been a very valuable experience." (Tibetan volunteer teacher) In addition, volunteers valued the opportunity that the experience provided to reflect on personal values and the values of Western societies. For example, one teacher explained: "The experience provides an opportunity for us to see ourselves in new ways – the society provides us with a mirror to ourselves." This is further supported in the reflections below from a number of different teachers:
I realise how much we have in our society in the West. We have many comforts. Here they have the minimum, but still they are smiling all the time. Everywhere here people talk about Buddhism, caring and compassion. Today I went to the pharmacy, for example, and the pharmacist started talking about these things. It reminds me that I must value the basics and the important things in life. I must learn to value what is important. As my volunteer time her progresses I am sure that these thoughts will become deeper and deeper – I can feel the change starting. [Female teacher] We are reflecting about who we are and what we want to do in the future. [Male and female teacher] I have transformed. The experience is very satisfying. When we come here, it is not like our home, we have to deal with the characteristics of this place. Thus, our point of reference changes. When we go back home and see how people do things and what kind of life they have – it is relative. Our values change – we see what is important in life. [Male teacher]
These are potentially life-changing reflections that have come about through the Lha experience. The value and benefit of this to individuals should not be under-estimated. 3.4
Benefits of Skills Building Program for Lha
Lha is known for its skill building program – some students are not necessarily aware of the other programs that Lha has on offer. It is important therefore that the skills building program runs well as much of the reputation of Lha rests with this program. Almost all students interviewed said that they would have no hesitation, if asked, of recommending Lha as a place to study to friends or acquaintances. Many in fact have already done this, recommending the organisation to both prospective students and to teachers looking to volunteer. In the wider community, Lha is well known as being the key organisation providing language classes. While other classes exist they do not have the depth of classes available and the long term history of Lha. It was generally felt by Lha staff that the programs have been improving over time, mainly due to the introduction of some new rules and structure. The introduction of student cards, attendance sheets and efforts to place students in their right skill level, have resulted in less chaos and better outcomes in classes. It was also reported by staff that guidance to new staff is good and that ideas for improvements are welcomed. It is made clear that Lha operates as a team and that teamwork is promoted. The program also brings a lot of volunteers to Lha. These volunteers are a potential source of ongoing support to the organisation but, as was stated earlier in this report, this is currently not being utilised to the full extent possible. Volunteers returning to their homes could be focal points in their home country, providing advocacy links for the Tibetan cause, as well as generating funding and resource support for Lha. The skills building program also enables Lha to employ more staff and be a more substantial presence in the community. The Tibetan community recognises the role that Lha plays as a non-government organisation and looks to the organisation for support when needed. 3.5
Problems Identified in Program and Areas in Need of Improvement
Although the Lha skills building program has been improved over time, the findings are clear that there is room for further improvement. While some problems identified are particular to either students, teachers or Lha staff, others are common across all groups. Student Perspectives 3.5.1 Lack of continuity in teachers This issue was raised by all three groups – students, Lha staff, and volunteers. The short period of time for many volunteers, and the lack of a common teaching methodology were cited as the main weakness in the language programs, in particular. Examples of comments from students in relation to this problem are:
Lha is not good because the teachers are always changing. We prefer studying at Tibet Charity or Tibet World. The French teacher at Lha has been here for quite some time and so the classes are good. It seems that the quality of teaching at Lha is not as good as other places. [3 past students] There was no consistency. Teachers need to follow on from one another so it builds understanding of students. It is frustrating when there is chopping and changing. [Past student]
While the Lha Education Coordinator makes every effort to assign only longer-term teachers to the daily classes, there are times when it is only possible to place short-term volunteers into these roles. The new Coordinator has recently introduced some measures which attempt to address a part of this issue: (i) a book has been created that lists the current teachers â€“ their names, start date and end date. This means that the Coordinator now knows when teachers are finishing and can then make arrangements for replacement teachers, so that there is some continuity for the group. (ii) all current teachers have been given a diary and requested that they list the topics that they cover each day. From April 2015 they will start a fresh curriculum. The diary is very important in providing guidance to follow-on teachers and has been appreciated by current teachers. Ideally, if funds were available, it would be preferable to employ a local Tibetan teacher for each three month course block, with a foreign volunteer teacher assigned to each class in a support role. This is the model used in the computer classes and it is much appreciated by students. Such an approach would make the comings and goings of foreigners less of an issue, and it would provide employment and pedagogy training for local teachers. It is acknowledged that funding is currently not available to support this model. However, a fund raising campaign where donors would be asked to sponsor a teacher for a set period of time and set amount, could be popular with potential donors and may be worth trialling. 3.5.2 Quality of teachers The varied quality of teachers was a concern of students. They commented that some teachers have no experience and are not skilled as either native speakers in a particular language and/or as teachers. While teachers for the computer, photography and massage therapy courses need to be qualified and experienced in these skills, this is not the case for language teachers who can teach if they are a native speaker of the language. The following comments from students reflect the feedback from students: Some teachers were not professionals; it is not the case that if you speak a language you can then teach the language. This is not true! The teachers are not good, they are just tourists and their English is sometimes worse than the students, they donâ€™t know grammar, etc. There is no continuity, the teachers are all over the place.
Teachers who had provided quality teaching were strong in the memory of many students; they were able to clearly remember the name of the teacher, where they were from and when s/he taught. Students agreed that the conversation classes were different and were an excellent forum for untrained volunteers to help them with informal conversation practice. It was the regular classes where the qualified teachers were needed. 3.5.3 Lack of common text books This was an issue for both students and teachers. Since 2014 there have been common text books for the English language Elementary, Beginner and Intermediate levels. For Advanced level English and for the other languages, at all levels, no common text book is available. This leads to a number of problems, including: lack of cohesion across the curriculum/syllabus in some languages; constant repetition of the same grammar/lessons as new teachers start and are not sure of the level and previous lessons covered by the class; and/or gaps in the ongoing curriculum. This wastes the time of both students and teachers, and results in frustrations for both. The teachers agreed that the text books that are available are good; they are short and precise. The problem for classes without text books is that they are then dependent on the skills of teachers in preparing classes and some volunteers are much more skilled and equipped than others to prepare a lesson plan that meets the needs of the students. This was explained as follows by a teacher of Chinese: 17
"It is up to you as the teacher what you teach – how you gauge the level of the students and what they need. I didn’t have any materials to begin with – I made up lesson plans from my own thinking. The last teacher had a Lonely Planet phrase book and this seemed to have been useful for coming up with popular conversation." [Teacher of Chinese] Currently, there is a lack of resources and/or a lack of systematic way of capturing, storing and retrieving resources for ongoing classes. 3.5.4 Conversation classes Students recognised conversation classes as a valuable opportunity for practising informal conversation skills. Students studying Chinese were therefore particularly disappointed that no conversation classes were available in this language. However, the main complaints related to the conversation classes, from students, teachers and the Lha staff, were related to: the room being too small, too crowded, and too noisy. The numbers wanting to attend these sessions are too great for the facilities available; teachers not having adequate facilitation skills to skilfully manage the group conversations. This meant that some students dominated some groups, while others barely had a chance to speak; lack of preparation of topics by teachers meant that there was constant repetition of the same conversation. While the teacher might be new to the group, many students already know one another and want to move on from the same introductions and emphasis of topics related to their past or current situation. Students are keen to extend and expand their vocabulary around new topics. For Lha staff these sessions are also a problem; the organisation of so many students and a changing number of volunteers on a daily basis is stressful. The Education Coordinator is considering applying a new structure to these sessions. The purpose of these sessions is for CURRENT students to practise their English conversation. But many ex-students, who are not currently attending formal, regular classes are coming to the conversation classes. At the moment some of the current students can’t get into the rooms due to the space limitations and are having to be sent away. The problem might be partly resolved by buying plastic chairs for the roof area so that this space could be used when the weather permitted. It may also require splitting the group into two groups, with each group attending on different days. 3.5.5 Quality of the classrooms Students mentioned that the classrooms could be improved by: painting the walls a lighter colour; installing new whiteboards that could be read properly; putting carpet on the floor as there were concerns about the cold during the winter months; and installing fans for the warmer months. Both students and teachers requested more posters, wall charts, etc to both brighten up the room and to help students with reinforcement of key vocabulary on topics. Teacher Perspectives 3.5.6 Class levels The lack of a systematic way of organising classes was raised by both teachers and Lha staff as a serious problem. While some students commented that they appreciated being able to choose the classes and level they attended, this is not the way to run an effective language school. Currently, levels within classes are often determined according to student wishes. At the time of enrolment, Lha staff ask students about their past level but, as many have never had any formal schooling, this is often a hit and miss way to determine a student’s level of study. Many monks, for example have never been to formal school, but have done considerable self-study within the monastery system. In these cases, and where possible, Lha staff will ask students to sit an entry level test. If students have done no study before then they start at Elementary level. But, in the end, students can decide their starting level. If they insist on a higher level than would be recommended by Lha staff, then they are told to attend the class for a few days to see if they can cope with their level of choice. Staff warn them that it is a waste of time if they try to study above their level –a warning that is often not heeded. ‘Students being able to 18
select their own level’ was the number one problem identified through the analysis of the Volunteer Exit Surveys (2012-2014). The volunteers reported that students of low proficiency were hampering the teaching of other students. In addition, students can stay on at a level for as long as they like, even if they have moved beyond the level in a group. Some choose to stay because they like a particular teacher, have friends in the group, or the timetable suits their personal needs. Some student have repeated the same level 4-5 times, most for other reasons than not having reached the level of the group. The very different levels within most classes makes a problem for both teachers and other students. It is up to teachers to determine the level of their group and this is usually done by pretty informal means. For example, one teacher explained: "When I first started we just talked for the first class, as I was trying to judge the level of the students. Also the level within the group is not the same – some are more advanced than others – this makes it difficult!" Teachers have to constantly repeat lessons for some students, while others are bored with this repetition. The practice of allowing students to choose the level of language class they attend is counterproductive. There needs to be some sort of pre-testing for ALL students in order to identify the appropriate level for each new student. Students then need to pass their current level before graduating to the next level. 3.5.7 Erratic student attendance Another frustration for teachers, linked to the class levels problem, is that student attendance is up and down. The patchy attendance by students and sudden influxes of new students, often without the teacher’s knowledge, is seen as problematic. Some students enrol in a course but are then not disciplined in their attendance. This makes it difficult for teachers to have aims and to see results at the end. There are no penalties for erratic attendance and so there is no pressure on students to change this behaviour. The program is thus very ad hoc. It is not like a formal language school, where students sit examinations at the end of a course and thus attend regularly to have the best chance of achieving the ‘official’ level. It is not clear why Lha does not have examinations or graduations, as this would provide a formal level of structure to the program and give more weight to the courses on offer. If Lha could eventually reach a level where it was providing national standard courses then this would set the organisation well above other educational service providers in the Dharamsala area. 3.5.8 Volunteer teacher orientation and briefing The evaluations findings suggest that, while simple orientations and briefings were provided to volunteer teachers, these could be improved to give teachers an easier start to their volunteer experience. Some teachers were confused by the information on the Lha website which suggested that non-native speakers of a particular language would need to sit a test before they could teach that language. In reality this does not seem to be the case, as there were examples of non-native speakers of both English and Chinese languages, teaching these languages without sitting the supposed, required test. Teachers emphasised the need for volunteer teachers to be flexible and easy going about what they would be doing. This needs to be stressed in the briefings to new teachers so that they have an expectation of the situation they are coming into. Teachers need to be prepared for the reality of limited resources. Preferably, they would be contacted before arriving in McLeodganj so that they could choose to bring resources with them if they chose to do so. It was suggested that there needs to be more effort made to ensure a proper handover between teachers. Ideally this would involve meeting the departing teacher and sitting in on classes before taking on teaching the actual class. Not surprisingly, this is not always possible, and so the system of teacher diaries that has recently been introduced is an excellent way of ensuring that incoming teachers have a detailed overview of what has been covered in the classes and the resources used. These diaries need to be mandatory for all classes, with required completion of diaries included as part of the volunteer ‘contract’. For many volunteers thrown into a teaching role that they have never undertaken before, there is a complete lack of guidance as to how to fulfil this
role. In the Volunteer Exit Surveys (2012-2014), they are asking for better guidance, coaching, training and general resources to bring them up to speed. Many of the volunteers mentioned that, as part of the briefing, they would like to have more information about Lha as an organisation, not just the skills building program. The recently made film about Lha, shown at some volunteer lunches and available on the Lha website, provides an excellent overview of the organisation and its work. This could be shown to all volunteers as part of their orientation/briefing. Longer-term volunteers (3 months plus) are keen to feel like part of the organisation rather than short-term volunteers. While the regular volunteer lunches are excellent, more could be done to involve these longer-term volunteers in organisational day-to-day life, such as staff meetings, special events, etc. 3.5.9 Limited resources As was mentioned 3.5.3 above, the lack of resources available, especially common text books for some classes, makes it difficult for teachers. This is especially the case for volunteers who do not have a teaching background. Teachers have a whiteboard and marker pens and an allocation of 50 photocopies per week per group. So, with these minimal resources it is essential that teachers are flexible, creative and prepared to make their own resources as required. As one teacher, with a teaching background, reflected: "I feel like I am teaching 50 years ago in a primary school in a little village in a remote rural area." [Male teacher]. To compensate for this, many of the volunteer teachers buy more resources/reference books themselves and pay for additional photocopies. The reference books and readers available in the Lha library, although helpful, are also limited. The Chinese reference books, for example, are problematic because many of the texts are from Taiwan where traditional Chinese is used rather than the simplified Chinese used in mainland China. Many of the readers in the library are much too advanced for beginners, or in many cases, even advanced language learners. There is a shortage of readers available at Beginner level for all the taught languages. The Lha Education Coordinator is very aware of this and wishes that readers for all languages and at all levels were available for students to borrow, so that they could practise their skills in their own time. To assist teachers, Lha needs to have available more simple, story books, as well as basic audio equipment so that teachers can play CDs, songs, etc. A teacher of Chinese mentioned that he sings songs to the class himself so that he can include these as part of the curriculum. There are some language charts and posters in the rooms but one teacher described these as being "really for babies." The rooms need to be more inviting and welcoming, with more posters, pictures and charts to catch the attention of students who might lose concentration on the lessons. Lha Perspective 3.5.10 Reliance on volunteers Lha is reliant on the whims of volunteers and their ever changing travel plans. This makes planning and organisation of the skills building courses extremely difficult. Lha works under the premise that there are limits as to what can be asked of volunteers, as they are giving their time freely. But, as a result, continuity of teachers is a problem as it is difficult to get people for two or three month periods. 3.5.11 Student lack of direction Many students are studying a number of courses at the same time and/or drifting from one course to the other within Lha, and from one organisation to another. Many students are not clear why they are studying a certain language/skill and some admit that they are simply studying to “fill in time”. This lack of purpose also impacts on the level that students choose to study at and their inconsistent attendance records. The problem was summed up as follows by a Lha staff member: Students are enthusiastic, & want to learn, but they don’t know what they want to learn. We try to provide advice but they often don’t listen. Often students are not highly self-aware of their own skills level – some think they have higher skills than is actually the case, and some under-estimate their skills. We are still trying to figure out how to divide students into levels.
Students desperately need counselling, both vocational and personal, to help them make wise decisions about their studies and their future in general. Lha could offer a great service to students by providing vocational education sessions and by collating a list of study and vocational opportunities that are available throughout India and other places in the Himalayas. Recruiting a staff member with vocational counselling skills or training current staff in these skills, would benefit both students through services provided and the staff member(s) through capacity building. Such a service to its client base would also set Lha apart from other language providers in McLeodganj, as it would then be providing a genuinely integrated service to Tibetan students. 3.5.12 Management of information Management of information in Lha is difficult as there is no central information management network; individual staff members have information on their own computers but it isnâ€™t necessarily the same across all computers. This makes getting the right information across programs and about students and volunteers quite difficult and cumbersome. Developing a central network for the storage and circulation of organisational documents and resources would be a worthwhile investment of funds and time in making the organisation more efficient. Another way of sharing information, ideas and problems Lha faces, would be to have regular staff meetings. However, for whatever reason [maybe pressures of other work] these meetings are quite intermittent. It was clear from the interviews that individual staff members have ideas for improvement and innovation. Meetings would provide an opportunity to share and build on these ideas, and would also help staff to feel more like a team. 3.5.13 Space limitations Lha staff are conscious that the lack of space is an issue for the organisation and one that potentially hampers their further development. The office is ideally and conveniently located in the centre of the McLeodganj bazaar, but this location is also a limitation as it is difficult to create more space within the current building. To expand the computer training a bigger room and more computers are needed, especially in winter when there are four computer classes per day. Lha would be able to help more people if there were more space and equipment. This is also true for the language classes. New vocational training courses (beautician, hairdressing, accounting, etc) could conceivably be added to the skills building program if further space was available. 3.6 Sustainability of the program The number of new arrivals from Tibet to Dharamsala has tapered off from several thousand in 2008 to a little more than 100 in 2014. While Lha has provided services to Tibetans and others from throughout the Himalayan region, the majority of those accessing Lhaâ€™s services, especially in the skills building program, have been more recent arrivals from Tibet. The sustainability of the program is therefore dependent on the Lha response to monitoring this changing demographic and responding in ways that are in line with the mission of the organisation, while continuing to ensure the organisation is financially viable and socially relevant. It is clear that strategic planning currently happens within Lha in a very "organic" way, the issues are being thought about and discussed, but the fruit of this thinking is not being captured in any formal sort of planning. A more formal strategic planning process could assist in creating a renewed vision that all staff can feel a connection to, assist in practical program design and management, and, last but not least, assist in promoting the organisation to potential funders, both private and institutional.
4. Recommendations The analysis of data collected through the evaluation process, outlined above, has led to a number of recommendations for Lha to consider. Monitoring and Evaluation 1. That the one page logic model of the program be examined, adjusted as necessary, and then confirmed as the basis of future program monitoring. In this way continual improvements can be made to the program as opportunities and resources become available. 21
Currently Lha collects some monitoring and evaluative data. However, it would appear that due to constraints on staff time, this data is left unused. On a periodic basis, possibly every six months, a volunteer with appropriate skills could be used to collate this data and collect further data to assess progress against potential outcomes. The development of a system for monitoring, tracking and reviewing the program progress and challenges would help Lha ensure that it is staying abreast of the strengths and weaknesses within the program and adjusting implementation based on lessons learned. Determining student class levels 2. That a simple system of pre-testing of students be introduced to assess the correct level at which a student should be studying. This will make the task of teaching easier, the rate of progress is likely to be faster, and levels of frustrations for all concerned will be lower. This will initially involve an investment in staff time but should pay off in terms of improved teaching and learning experiences. Volunteers with skills in particular languages could be asked to assist with development of the tests, which should be kept quite short and straightforward. Volunteers, with or without language teaching experience, could also be used to administer and correct the tests, under guidance from the Lha Education Coordinator. System of testing 3. That a system of regular testing of students be administered at the end of each three month course block and that graduation to the next level be subject to a satisfactory â€˜Passâ€™ at the level being studied. Currently there is no established system for assessing student progress. Regular and systematic testing of students at the end of block courses would be helpful for both teachers and students. Students would value knowing how they were progressing and the areas of their language learning that needed attention. They would respect a merit-based system, especially if it could somehow be linked to the international language testing systems (IELTS, TOEFL, etc.) that are currently used globally to ascertain language levels. Teachers would benefit from an objective assessment of the effectiveness of their teaching. The results of tests could be used to determine whether or not a student was promoted to the next level. Annual certificates of achievement and language level could be awarded to students. Student attendance 4. That students be required to make a commitment to minimal attendance on a course of study [probably 3 months] in order to not disrupt continuity of teaching required to always bring absentees up to speed. The findings of the evaluation clearly show that erratic class attendance disrupts the continuity in teaching and learning. It is not unusual for courses to have rules about attendance. Whether there are fees or not, students can commit to class attendance if they have respect for what is being offered and understand that there are rules applying to the privilege of attending courses. It is suggested that Lha develops an attendance policy that would disallow students from attending if they missed a certain percentage of classes in a block period. These students could re-enrol at the start of the next block course. There could be exceptions to this policy, such as students coming for one month only from places out of Dharamsala. These exceptions could be decided at the discretion of the Lha Education Coordinator in discuss with the affected class teacher. Linked to Recommendation 3 above, if students knew that they were going to be tested at the end of a course block this may also be an impetus to encourage self-discipline and regular attendance. Vocational and educational guidance 5. That students would benefit from guidance about the availability of educational and vocational training programs available to them. Lha could be in a position to gather such information and provide students with valuable vocational guidance.
The evaluation findings found that many students were ‘lost’, being unclear of what and why they are studying and what options were potentially available to them in their career path. Lha is in a position to provide a much needed service to students, offering vocational and educational guidance. Firstly this would involve research and collation of information about the educational and vocational opportunities that are available locally and nationally in India, and also in the wider region. This information could then be disseminated via: information sessions to groups of students; information packs available at Lha and/or on the Lha website; and through individual counselling sessions with students. Training for Lha staff or recruitment of a dedicated vocational/educational advisor, may be needed if individual counselling is to be provided. Such a service would, without doubt, guarantee that Lha was providing a service over and above other education providers in McLeodganj. Volunteer teachers 6. Selection & Recruitment. That classroom teachers should continue to be selected on the basis of: (i) length of intended stay [this should be at least one month + preferably three months]; (ii) having an appropriate teaching qualification and/or experience. Currently it is assumed that native speakers of a language have the necessary skills to teach that language. This is a dangerous assumption as many native speakers often know very little about the structure, grammar, syntax etc. of their own language. The selection and recruitment guidelines used by Lha, as much as is possible, should be maintained. Potential volunteers for language teaching should be referred to a basic set of required skills and knowledge [much as would be laid out for a job application] and asked to self-assess against those criteria. In the future, Lha could consider introducing a fund-raising program that would generate funds for the employment of local, suitably qualified/experienced Tibetan teachers. These teachers could become the ‘lead’ teacher for a class, with volunteer teachers supporting them when they are available. Qualified volunteer teachers could provide ‘on-the-job’ capacity building for local teachers. A fundraising program with targets for a set amount against a specific and measurable role (e.g. ‘US$375 will support a local English language teacher for Tibetan refugees for 3 months’) are often quite popular with individual donors. 7. Contracts. That classroom teachers should be required to sign a simple contract that states roles and responsibilities of, both the volunteer teacher to Lha and its students, as well as responsibilities of Lha to the volunteer teacher. It is becoming recognised practice for volunteer organisations to request that volunteers sign a contract before they start work with an organisation. These contracts can be quite simple, but need to outline: the roles and responsibilities of the volunteer and of Lha as the host organisation; a paragraph outlining the volunteer role that is to be filled; the supervisor for the volunteer and the role the supervisor will have in advising and assessing the work of the volunteer; and what the volunteer can expect at the end of his/her volunteer period (certificate; reference letter; etc). This contract should also cover key provisions under Lha’s Child Protection Policy [yet to be drafted]. 8. Appropriate Preparation. That selected volunteers should be provided with a detailed briefing prior to arrival: on available resources; current teaching approaches & methodologies; curriculum availability; handover requirements; and basic information about their class where decided. Volunteer teachers requested that more information be available at the time of orientation so that they could be better prepared to start classes. The current briefing was described as ‘adequate’ by most teachers, but many of those interviewed were quite experienced teachers and they did add that, for novice or inexperienced teachers, the level of briefing needed to be more comprehensive. Information 23
that would be helpful to cover in the briefing included: a summary of available resources; the curriculum needs for each class and an up-to-date summary of what had been covered in recent classes; examples of the resources that had been used for each group; and basic information about the class the volunteer would be teaching (number of students, ages, gender breakdown, reason for studying, seasonal influences, etc). It was also suggested that a brief pedagogy be developed to help novice teachers understand how they might approach teaching a language. This guide could be developed as a volunteer assignment by a suitable volunteer. Resources 9. That suitably qualified volunteers are sought through the Lha website, seeking professional support for the development of still-needed language text books. It is clear that text books are needed for all languages taught and all levels within these languages. The English language text books that are available have been very helpful in guiding teachers as to content to be covered and ensuring a consistent approach to teaching. The development of text books for other languages and levels could be done by suitably qualified volunteers as the volunteers are identified and become available. As a starting point, an overall curriculum framework needs to be for each language to guide the development of the text book for each level of a language. This would allow a volunteer to develop a text book for one level of a language and to know that it fits within the overall framework for teaching the language. 10. That, through the existing volunteer alumni, a ‘drive’ specifically aimed at collecting a range of appropriate resources is activated. Appropriate resources for classes and student reading could be acquired via the volunteer alumni. Past volunteers could be emailed a standard letter of request, asking them to post a textbook, reader or language study resource (wall chart, language game, flip charts, etc) to Lha in McLeodganj. Guidance about the type of text books, readers or other language study resources would need to be clear in the request letter. For example, a reader for Beginner level English, a text book for Intermediate level French (naming a particular text book if one was preferred), a wall chart on foods in Chinese, etc. It could be made clear that texts/readers sent could be new or second-hand, along as they were appropriate. It could be suggested to volunteers that they circulate the request letter among their network of friends/contacts who might also be interested in sending a text book. This method of building a resource library has been effective in programs in other countries. Volunteers often appreciate being able to help an organisation they have been linked to, in a way that is quite tangible and does not require a large outlay of money. Conversation Classes 11. That a new approach to effectively managing the English language conversation classes be considered for the peak volunteer season. The evaluation found that the current approach to the management of the English language conversation classes is not working well. So that the experience is of more benefit to students and volunteer facilitators, it is suggested that either: (i) plastic chairs be purchased so that the rooftop area can be effectively used for ‘overflow’ from the two classrooms and to reduce the numbers in the two rooms; and/or (ii) conversation session attendees (comprising both current and past students) be divided into two groups, with one group attending Mondays and Wednesdays, and the second group attending Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays could then be limited to current students only. Facilitators need to be encouraged to think about suitable topics for discussion, topics that are not focused on general student introductions. A one page advice sheet about ‘how to facilitate a small group conversation’ could be developed and all volunteers could be asked to read this at their briefing and before they lead discussion of a conversation group. 12. That conversation classes for all languages be available, especially for Chinese. Space and volunteer limitations may make this difficult, but it is suggested that conversation classes be made available for other languages when volunteers are available and space can be found to house 24
these classes. It may be possible to ‘borrow’ some space from one of the other organisations/institutions in McLeodganj, such as one of the monasteries or schools. This space may only be needed for one or two hours a day. As French conversation classes already informally run each afternoon, the main priority at this stage would be Chinese conversations classes. Classroom Environment 13. That, with the support of current volunteers, the classrooms are renovated to improve the teaching and learning environment. It is true, as was mentioned by students and volunteers in the evaluation interviews, that the Lha classrooms are tired and in need of attention. If paint was provided, there is no doubt that many of the short-term Lha volunteers would be willing to give up a weekend to paint the classrooms. This would need a few staff willing to work for a weekend to guide and supervise the painting team. A general email to Lha supporters could raise the funds to support the refurbishment of the rooms. Refurbished classrooms, with walls painted in a light colour, would make a huge difference to the teaching and learning environment. Volunteer Management Lha has an enormous number of exchange students and volunteers passing through its programs each year. These people form the basis of a potentially powerful support network internationally. Whilst Lha sends an annual email update with the Annual Report, there is further potential to utilise this network in support of Lha specifically or the Tibetan cause more generally. A couple of ways that this potential may be harnessed are: 14. That all returning students and volunteers be given information about Tibet support networks in their own countries, providing a possible avenue for involvement. This could also include suggestions on how they might practically assist Lha’s work in the future. As was shown in the evaluation findings, many volunteers are inspired by their work with Lha and their newly found understanding of and commitment to the Tibetan cause. They return home keen to continue support to Lha and to the Tibetan struggle. But, to retain this energy and commitment once they return to their regular, busy lives, these volunteers need to be armed with a document outlining ways they can stay involved and networks they can be connected to. Using volunteer resources, Lha could develop an information sheet that is given/emailed to all exiting volunteers that tells them ways they can remain involved and links that exist in their home countries that support the Tibetan cause. 15. That particularly enthusiastic and committed volunteers could be invited to become the facilitators of an “email hub” within their own country, with the aim of keeping members informed and seeking ways to support Lha from a distance. Linked to the above recommendation, Lha could identify especially committed and skilled volunteers, as they emerge, to become the ‘email hub’ link in a particular country (or part of a country). These volunteers could be the conduits for passing on information about Lha and for keeping volunteers involved. It is not envisaged that this would be a particularly time consuming role, but the selection of volunteers to take on these roles would be crucial. It would be important to wait until someone came along who was identified as being suitable for the role in a particular country/region rather than simply inflict this on a volunteer who was a ‘reluctant starter’. 16. That volunteers with specific professional networks [e.g. teachers who are linked to language training networks - English as a foreign language, French as a foreign language, etc ] be encouraged to promote Lha as a potential volunteer language training opportunity for those seeking such an experience. Some of the professionally trained language teachers who volunteer with Lha are linked to language teacher networks in their home countries. These volunteers could be approached to promote Lha as a two to three month, volunteer language training opportunity for graduates seeking such experience. Lha is well set up to cater for volunteers and this could be promoted through the networks. If they knew
about Lha and its teaching programs, many language teacher graduates may be eager to take up the opportunity to apply their newly acquired skills in the Lha programs.
ANNEX 1 EVALUATION PLAN
Lha Skills Building Program: Evaluation Plan March 2015 Purpose and objectives of the evaluation As requested by the Lha, the evaluation of the Skills Building Program will take an improvements-oriented approach, with a focus on gathering and analyzing qualitative information to inform an ongoing cycle of program reflection and innovation. The objectives of the evaluation are to: 1. assess the achievements of the program against the goal and outcomes; 2. identify program strengths, challenges and lessons learned; 3. assess the effectiveness of the skills building programs provided by Lha; 4. provide realistic recommendations for further ongoing implementation of the program. It is envisaged that the evaluation will be a learning process and another step towards strengthening the capacity of Lha in implementation and management of its program. The process will be kept as flexible and open as possible so that agreed suggested changes can be incorporated into the process as it unfolds. Principles Guiding the Evaluation Process The evaluation process will be based on an approach that: Genuinely involves the participation of all stakeholders Builds capacity – learning by doing Promotes a team approach Provides feedback to all those involved in the process who have contributed information Is ethical Is efficient Respects the views of all contributors Methodology The methodology will be kept as simple as possible, while still aiming to ensure a thoroughness that will ensure findings and recommendations that can be utilised by Lha. The steps involved are: 1. DOCUMENT REVIEW Existing program documents will be reviewed, such as: - End of course student evaluation forms [to be collated & analysed]; - Previous program reports; - Teacher diaries and lesson plans; - Lha Annual Reports; - Lha records. The document review will also include online research related to other skills building programs, including evaluation findings and implementation processes.
↓ 2. CONSULTATION The evaluators will meet with the relevant Lha team aim to: - confirm the program overview summary, and the proposed outcomes, indicators and means of verification; - gather further information about the program from the perspective of the Lha team, especially in relation to management and involvement of volunteers; and - gather suggestions and/or recommendations for changes needed & priorities for the ongoing program.
3. KEY INFORMANT INTERVIEWS AND FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS WITH PREVIOUS AND CURRENT STUDENTS If possible focus group discussions will be conducted with groups of both current students and students who have previously participated in Lha skills building courses but are now no longer attending. These focus group discussions will be complemented by key informant interviews with students who are not able to attend the focus groups. Question guides will be prepared for both the focus group discussions and the key informant interviews. As many students as possible will be interviewed, using purposive and snowball sampling methods. Most Significant Change (MSC) stories will be used as a key tool for evaluating outcomes or emerging outcomes of the program. MSC interviews will be conducted with all key informants. A standard format will be developed and used for all interviews.
↓ 4. KEY INFORMANT INTERVIEWS OR EMAIL SURVEY WITH TEACHERS (BOTH PAID AND VOLUNTEER) INVOLVED IN THE PROGRAM Paid and volunteer teachers who have been involved in the program (both current and in the past) will either be interviewed, using prepared question guides, or be invited to respond to prepared survey questions.
↓ 5. COLLATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA Information will be collated into findings (expected and unexpected) against each of the expected outcomes of the program and recommendations will be suggested for the future of the program.
↓ 6. FEEDACK TO STAKEHOLDERS Feedback about the findings and recommendations emerging from the evaluation will be presented to the Lha. This session will provide an opportunity for a “reality check” as to whether the findings and recommendations align with the Lha team’s own perceptions about the program. This session may also alert the evaluators to the need to collect further information.
↓ 7. REPORT WRITING A draft evaluation report will be prepared by the external consultant and forwarded to Lha so that it can be circulated to key stakeholders for review and feedback. Following this process the report will be finalised. Ethical considerations The involvement of Lha staff, partners and other external stakeholder representatives in the evaluation will be voluntary. Prior to interviews/workshops, participants will be assured that they can withdraw from the meeting/workshop at any stage if they wish and that they do not have to answer any particular questions if they did not want to. As far as possible, the anonymity of respondents will be respected. No names will be attributed to any quote used in the report; however, the organisation of those quoted may be included. Resources The evaluation will be undertaken by two external evaluators from Australia, Ms Marion Brown and Mr Michael Crooke, in collaboration with the Lha Director. Interviews will be conducted either by a small team trained by the evaluators or by the evaluators with interpreters assigned by the Lha. Arrangements for meetings with key informants will be organised by the Lha or by the evaluators, with a letter of introduction from the Lha. Relevant program documents will be provided by the Lha Director.
ANNEX 2 LIST OF INFORMANTS
Lha Skills Building Program Evaluation: List of Informants Type of Informant Group Current Students - English
Male 6 (1xThai) 2 3 3
Past Students - English Past Students - French Past Students - Chinese Past Students - Computers
Current Teachers - English Current Teachers - French Current Teachers - Chinese
1 1 2 (1 x Tibetan)
3 (1xTibetan) 2
Email survey but no responses were received, probably due to technical problems.
Current Students - French Current Students - Chinese Current Students - Computers
Lha Staff Volunteer exit surveys: Tibetan: 95; Nepali: 2; Ladakhi: 1; Bhutanese: 1; Indian Tibetan: 1 Outside English teacher
ANNEX 3 COLLATED DATA FROM: 2012 STUDENT SURVEYS & EVALUATION KEY INFORMANT INTERVIEWS
Collated data from the 2012 Student Survey and the Evaluation Key Informant Interviews Table listing improvements suggested from a student perspective – both survey and interview feedback. What could be improved – student perspective
Continuity of teachers – lack of continuity leads to constant repetition of grammar/lessons = boring. Each morning, at the beginning of every class, a national anthem or any other national song, could be played alternatively, so that side by side we can also learn about our culture and traditions. A common textbook is needed for all languages and all levels to avoid constant repetition of topics across teachers; otherwise boring. Quality and experience of teachers – some teachers have no experience and are not skilled as either English speakers or as teachers Conversation classes, which could be useful, need to be in a bigger room or same room with fewer students. Room is too noisy. Conversation classes - teachers need to be skilled at facilitating discussions and come prepared with topics so vocabulary stretches students - otherwise same conversation each day. Readers in all languages and at all levels need to be available in the library for students to borrow. Teachers should teach according to the capacity of the students, they should not teach many things at the one time. Personal tutors are very helpful – need to be available as much as possible for all students. In both Chinese and English classes, the teachers should emphasise more on pronunciation and reading rather than teaching writing all the time. The class rooms need to be renovated – painting of walls; carpet on floor; new whiteboards; fans installed; and posters/charts on walls or available for all languages. There should be conversation classes for all languages (especially Chinese) as they provide an opportunity for students to practise and extend skills/vocabulary from classes
7 7 7 3
7 6 6 1
Collated and summarised data from the Volunteer Exit Surveys, 2012-2014 VOLUNTEERS COMMENTS REGARDING TEACHING LANGUAGES Language courses need to be better structured, students of insufficient proficiency hampered classes - there needs to be pre-testing Need for basic coaching/guidance/orientation to Vol. teachers Lack of syllabus & curriculum in advanced classes is a problem Vol. teachers should be more qualified & should stay longer Attendance can be very patchy this then affects the whole class Better handover between volunteer teachers There is a lack of teaching resources, too limited & limiting Students trying to learn two languages at once is a problem Total number of Comments
16 13 10 7 6 5 5 1 63
The main issues with the English teaching classes seem to be [in order of number of comments from volunteers in their feedback]:
Students being able to select their own level is a real problem. The classes generally need greater structure, and more continuity of students. Students of low language proficiency hamper the teaching of other students. Many said that there needs to be pre-testing to ensure that student enter the classes at the right level.  33
For many volunteers thrown into a teaching role that they have never undertaken before, there is a complete lack of guidance as to how to fulfil this role. They are asking for better guidance, coaching, training and general resources to bring them up to speed.  The lack of a syllabus and/or curriculum was cited by many as a real problem which leads to confusion and lack of continuity.  Many people felt that teaching staff should be longer-term volunteers who are actually qualified, either as teachers or ESL teachers. [This is also an issue that was raised by many students interviewed]  The patchy attendance by students and sudden influxes of new students, often without the teachers knowledge, is seen as problematic. The handover between teachers, whether face-to-face, through diaries or recorded lesson plans seems very haphazard, this needs to be handled in a more effective way. There is a lack of resources and/or a lack of systematic way of capturing, storing and retrieving resources for ongoing classes.
VOLUNTEERS COMMENTS REGARDING CONVERSATION CLASS Conversation groups too monotonous/disorganised, more variety, better topics to stretch vocabulary Conversation groups too large to involve everyone Conversation groups too noisy Conversation groups too varied in English proficiency Total number of Comments
6 5 4 2 17
The main issues with the English conversation classes seem to be [in order of number of comments from volunteers in their feedback]: Classes are a bit too disorganised and they can become monotonous, there is a need for better topics to introduce new vocabulary; The classes are too large to involve everyone; The classes are too noisy because they are in such a confined space; The groups are too varied in terms of people's proficiency in English. VOLUNTEERS COMMENTS REGARDING VOLUNTEERING Better arrival & orientation arrangements Better communications/coordination across volunteers & staff Better linking up of volunteers Hard to get to know staff - big gap between staff & volunteers Volunteer opportunities that were expected did not eventuate The volunteer handbook needs revising to reflect reality $250 volunteer orientation is fundraising, this should be made very clear as it is clear the money is not spent on orientation Total number of Comments
16 8 6 5 3 2 2 42
The main issues with the Volunteering seem to be [in order of number of comments from volunteers in their feedback]: There was quite of lot of criticism [some of it gentle and apologetic but insistent nonetheless] of the orientation process, or to be more exact the lack of any sort of meaningful orientation. A couple of people said they had a great orientation, so it's hard to see how this variation comes about. But for every person praising their orientation  there were eight [16 in total very critical of it]; Next came a raft of issues that are all really linked [19 comments in all] o The need for much better communication between staff and volunteers [8 comments]; o Better linking of volunteers with one another [6 comments]; and o The staff are hard to get to know, there is a big gap between staff and volunteers [5 comments] There are probably a number of simple measures that can be undertaken to overcome these issues. 34