A few days ago, I got to interview the Executive Director of the APNLC, Hermann Ellis Jr, about the APNLC, its effectiveness, and his thoughts. So here is the transcribed interview, in my point form notes. I’ll have more on specific parts later:
Roksana: How did you get involved with the APNLC?
Hermann: I was already working at Scadding Court [Community Centre], and the management team, which I was the face of, took over the Learning Centre, so that’s how I got involved.
R: What are you most proud of in the past few years?
H: Proud of our learners and being a part of their progress, they’re the reason why I come to work
R: What are some challenges you’ve faced in the past years?
H: Funding–trying to get enough money to continue to meet the needs of our learners. Many people who come here have undiagnosed learning disabilities, and the centre can’t afford to help them
R: Funding for?
H: Instructors, and materials and support, transportation, child care
R: How do you monitor and evaluate your work?
H: There’s Quantitative and qualitative
Qualitative: Eg feedback from students, the atmosphere, what the staff say
Quantitative: How well is attendance, how many people come, how many people move on to different levels, and go to college, etc
There’s pressure to have it be about numbers but what is going on is that the stigma is lifting, people are not afraid to come to school because it’s not safe, not welcoming. They need the confidence in the school and that’s what’s happening
Donors want people to pass a test, but it’s a success even if they fail, because they still came to learn
R: Are the mechanisms by which they work transparent to all key stakeholders, including communities, local governments and donors?
[Note: The APNLC receives most of their funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, as well as the Catherine Donnelly Foundation.
Everything they do is reported back to the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities and there are information database systems that are in place to ensure transparency
They hold us accountable for every dollar spent
Different information than sent back to the government, the foundation has their own protocols, we do a midterm report with how many people and how they are doing according to the plan, final report explaining if they were successful, if not, then explain why
There’s also a financial report, where an auditor looks at all the paperwork associated with the money and write a report, this often happens
There is an auditor’s report that the community sees
R: Are empowerment and capacity building of partners and communities promoted?
H: We rely on a lot of literacy centres for tutors à 30 different one-on-one tutors, train volunteers, partner with a bunch of other agencies to do joint training, partnerships are important so everybody is on the same page and on the same capacity, help people understand why it’s important to be part of that group
R: What do you think the APNLC accomplishes with the learners?
H: What I see most the development of positive self-esteem, eventually all learners come out of their shell and become a part for the community and the centre
Being confident, speak out, write stories, it’s beyond learning to read and write and is instilling confidence. Idea of hope. People never thought that they could do algebra, or make it to university, but they do à give people a chance to hope
R: How would you rate your effectiveness?
H: Effectiveness to ministry is how many people come, it’s not that simple actually, we look at things from a quality point of view. The Centre is very effective with the amount of people that come, a lot of people that benefit, and we continue to grow, get better, more money, more exciting things, like new tablets. Growth and progress, keeping with the times, that’s effectiveness.