To demonstrate the approach described earlier, we provide here the real example of the project Studenten voor Educatie, which started in the beginning of 2020.
Educational inequality and teacher shortage in primary schools are two of the main educational challenges in the Netherlands, being the latter a key contributor to the first one. During Covid-19 outbreak, this situation got even worse, leading to an increase in the number of students falling behind in their academic, creative and emotional development.
Considering this scenario and the approach described before, OSHub-NL defined as a goal to support schools reducing the workload of primary school teachers and increasing the educational opportunities for all students, by increasing the collaboration between primary schools and universities, while at the same time promoting educational careers for university students. Importantly, there was a particular interest to work in The Hague (where Leiden University also has a campus), given the high social and educational demands prevalent in some neighbourhoods.
Right from the beginning, OSHub-NL contacted the Municipality of the Hague, with whom quickly set up a network of relevant educational partners – Stichting Brede Buurtschool and the School Boards from the Hague – to devise a plan to tackle this challenge.
This gave rise to the Studenten voor Educatie project, whose essence is to match university students with primary schools based on the student’s assets and on the school’s needs, so that university students can provide an extra force at schools, by working as tutors of primary students, while gaining relevant experience in teaching and being involved in meaningful societal experiences.
Importantly, in order to ensure professional support, university students receive dedicated training, both from teachers and school heads working on the ground, as well as from professionals from Leiden University working on the fields of education and inclusion.
OSHub-NL led the piloting and implementation of the project, where it acted as a broker, coordinating and facilitating the work between all partners, schools and university students. In addition, was also responsible for identifying the needs of schools as well as recruiting and training university students and matching them to the different schools.
A key aspect of the Studenten voor Educatie project was the establishment of a monitoring and evaluation programme, in collaboration with the University of Applied Science from The Haguel, to keep track of the project’s progress, evaluate its effectiveness and adjust it where necessary, on an evidence basis. Again, OSHub-NL was responsible for recruiting the research group and working with the researchers in the co-design of the monitoring plan, as well as liaising between the different project partners, namely the School Boards.
Studenten voor Educatie started as a pilot with 4 schools and 8 mentors in the spring of 2020, and it has become today a citywide facility with over 50 primary schools. In addition, it is anchored within The Hague’s educational agenda until 2026 and receives municipal support. For this, the experience, expertise and connections of the partners involved, as well as the involvement of the Local Councillor since the beginning involvement, were fundamental to create the conditions for ensuring both financial and institutional sustainability.