This analysis reviewed cluster based mentoring programs for teachers being implemented across the country. It aimed to use existing documents to identify the rationale presented for their approach to training, the conceptual and operational models used, the benefits or limitations of using the clustering approach, and the different policy environments within which the cluster based training models operate. The scope of this study was limited to a review of concept notes, implementation and evaluation reports of five different clustering approaches from a variety of projects, NGOs and teacher training organizations to contribute to our understanding of how cluster based training works.

The review shows that the clustering approach is endorsed by the government as well as teacher training projects and other organizations because of the lower costs incurred; the increased access of teachers to training centers; and the fact that the physically locating a training center in a cluster of schools increases the possibility of teachers interacting with each other and planning professional development activities. The study also finds that none of the teacher training organizations/projects tailor their training program to suit the needs of the teachers in each cluster. There was no documented evidence on the projects studied that suggested how the clustering approach directly translated into better classroom teaching or improved student performance. Despite the differences in context and operational and conceptual frameworks the review found that the factors that impact effectiveness are active interest on the part of school staff, cooperation from district education department, selection of mentors, incentives for mentors, retaining mentors and institutionalizing position, centrally located school, size of cluster, and mapping the cluster.

Sponsor(s):Open Society Foundations