Authors: Sruti Bandyopadhyay

This delivery note was prepared by Sruti Bandyopadhyay based on an original case study from the Brookings Institution. Please click on the following link for the full case study:

Case Study in brief: This case study explores how Lesson Study, a program administered by the Zambian Ministry of General Education in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) from 2005 until 2015, provided primary and secondary schoolteachers in Zambia with the knowledge and skills to continuously improve their teaching through a monthly cycle of “Plan-Do-See” activities.

Development challenge: Low level of learning outcomes among primary schoolchildren

Delivery challenges: Project design, stakeholder engagement, and embracing local champions

Lessons learned: 1) The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was a committed partner throughout Lesson Study’s 10 years of growth, development, and expansion. Its cooperative partnership with the government of Zambia was critical to creating a healthy balance between autonomy and cooperation, particularly in providing the necessary space for local stakeholders to adapt Lesson Study to the local context and in providing technical assistance and support when the program needed an external catalyst or extra guidance. 2) The success of Lesson Study was dependent on the view that teachers are agents of change rather than targets of training. This shift in thinking not only helped to change the mindset of teachers toward continuing education and professional development—relatively new concepts in the Zambian teaching profession—but also demonstrated the respect the government of Zambia held for its teachers. 3) Local champions of Lesson Study were another core driving force behind the government’s long-term support of the program. These champions, especially those who held insights into the local realities of teaching and learning in Zambia, helped to ensure implementation took place seamlessly and increased the credibility of the program’s design and adaptation.