About the Project

This project is one of the 2017 WISE Awards finalists. 

STIR’s core mission is to support government officials to ignite and sustain teacher intrinsic motivation across entire education systems in order to improve classroom practice and student learning. The core insight that underlies STIR’s mission is the virtuous cycle created between teacher intrinsic motivation, mastery of classroom practice and student learning.

STIR is now at an exciting inflection point: having begun to work deeply in the system over past years, Indian state and national governments have tasked STIR to support them to fully embed the STIR model into how the government motivates and supports teachers at scale. In return the government is offering to provide significant human resources so that more implantation is done by officials, allowing STIR to work at almost ten times the current rate.

Now a five year old organization, STIR has grown rapidly from a pilot of 25 teachers in Delhi in 2012 to one reaching over 27,000 teachers and 1.1 million children across India and Uganda at the end of 2016. Following the Indian government’s request, STIR has the potential to scale from the current 1 million children impacted to over 60 million children in India alone in coming years. STIR is working with 18 of the world’s leading funders including USAID, the Mastercard Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, IKEA Foundation, Dubai Cares and the UBS Optimus Foundation. STIR has also been named as an official partner in DFID’s Ugandan education program for the next four years.  


Context and Issue

While school enrolment in India has undeniably increased, the quality of education in government schools has not improved in the same order. Similarly, in Uganda, only 16 percent of primary teachers aspire to remain in the profession in the next two years and this is a trend observed worldwide. Teachers are frequently seen as the problem: poorly motivated and unprofessional. Traditional top-down, ‘carrot-and-stick’ approaches have failed to change the situation, not able to motivate teachers to teach, let alone teach well. Many factors, such as the low social status of teachers, low wages and lack of teacher involvement in matters related to the improvement of education systems, drive teachers’ attrition and demotivation; the combination of which is lethal to children’s learning.

In the next 14 years almost 26 million motivated and highly skilled teachers must be recruited in order to provide every child with a primary education. STIR envisages a radically new equilibrium where teachers are the solution, not the problem, to addressing the global learning crisis. 


The Solution and Impact

STIR’s engagement with a district spans five years, during this time it achieves its mission in two distinct ways:

1)    STIR builds teacher networks, ongoing, local communities of practice through which teachers develop: professional mindsets, improved motivation and increase mastery of key classroom improvement principles and techniques, subsequently improving children’s learning. Teachers learn to use the collaborative process of a Learning Improvement Cycle (LIC) where teachers identify a problem, develop, reflect on, and adapt a solution, then evaluate the solution’s effectiveness. The core journey last two years, after which STIR continues to encourage teachers to attend network meetings for a further three years utilizing LICs to improve other areas of their teaching.

2)    STIR embeds its approach in government systems, by training and closely supporting Education Leaders (mid-tier government officials already in the system) to run the network meetings. In this way, STIR builds an enabling environment for teacher collaboration and development, and strengthens education systems at all levels.

At the end of 2016, STIR’s movement included 27,373 teachers who are working to improve learning for over one million children in over 10,000 schools in India and Uganda. We work at scale in three states in India (Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka) and at a national level in Uganda (in over 66 districts).


Future Developments

Government adoption has always been STIR’s end game. Recently, the Indian government tasked STIR to support them to fully embed the STIR model into how the government motivates and supports teachers at scale. In doing so there is the opportunity to impact over 60 million children. As a result, over the coming year STIR will be testing the STIR model via a new delivery approach, with STIR operating at a much higher leverage than the current delivery mechanism.

This new ‘System-Led Delivery’ takes STIR deeply into the realm of system change, building on STIR’s core competencies around convening, influencing and coaching staff in government systems. In this approach, every teacher and child is directly served. In Uganda there has been a parallel request for deeper integration into the government system, however to overcome the limited capacity of the system, STIR is looking to create an ‘in-school’ based model where the Head Teacher, or other senior teacher, in a school takes on the role of the Education Leader. STIR will do this whilst continuing the unique partnership they have developed with UNATU, the Ugandan teachers union.

STIR recognizes the importance of having comprehensive and real-time impact data for all agents in the system – from teachers to district officials – to enable all stakeholders to understand where they can improve their performance. Throughout 2017, STIR aims to build the foundations for a ‘good and agile’ data system that provides feedback loops to different players in the system in a personalized way, using mobile technology.

April 26, 2017 (last update 12-02-2019)