GC's Linda Cayot (center) poses with local students at a Santa Cruz giant tortoise sanctuary.(Photo by Zorica Kovacevic)

Strategic Planning for the Tomás de Berlanga School

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Strategic Planning for the Tomás de Berlanga School

GC's Linda Cayot (center) poses with local students at a Santa Cruz giant tortoise sanctuary.(Photo by Zorica Kovacevic)



Education for a Sustainable Society: Strategic and Business Plans for Tomás de Berlanga School


Scalesia Foundation (Galapagos), Stanford University School of Education, and independent educators


Funded in 2011, completed in 2012


Educating future generations of Galapagueños may be one of the most important challenges that the stakeholders in Galapagos have to face. The local population in Galapagos is increasing rapidly, as is the number of schools. Existing study plans and models of curricula don’t match the Islands’ reality and professional needs. The Scalesia Foundation is currently implementing changes at a pilot school (Tomás de Berlanga School) where traditional learning structures are being questioned in order to design an educational proposal that matches the reality of students who live in a Natural World Heritage Site. During the last three years, the Scalesia Foundation has started a reengineering process of the Foundation and the School in order to ensure that the educational objectives can be reached and to eventually serve as a model for other schools. After three years of changes and improvements, the Foundation identified the need to update its Strategic Plan, and accompany it with a Business Plan that will establish a clear strategy and the financial mechanisms to ensure institutional stability and long term growth.

Project Summary: The project goal was to contribute to the long-term institutional strengthening of the Tomás de Berlanga (TdB) School as a pilot educational project in the Galapagos Islands. The specific objective was to develop a Strategic Plan and a Business Plan for the School which would include an analysis of governance, human resources, infrastructure and funding sources (both earned income and fundraising). Key components of the project included:

  1. Review Team Research. During one week in June 2011, a Review Team comprised of 3 education specialists (literacy, math and science), a management specialist, and an individual with experience in fundraising and strategic planning visited the TdB School. Activities included: focus groups involving parents and teachers (TdB and non-TdB), students, and community leaders, to determine current perceptions of the School; classroom observations; interviews with individual teachers, administrators, and local representatives from the Ministry of Education; and a presentation of initial findings to the Foundation’s Board.
  2. Recommendations Document. Following the visit, the Review Team drafted a 40-page document entitled “Preliminary Observations and Recommendations” (presented in English and Spanish), that focused on stakeholder perceptions, the teaching and learning environment at the school, governance and administrative structures, options for the Bachillerato Program, and a series of specific conclusions and recommendations.
  3. Feedback from the Scalesia Board. The Review Team’s recommendations were presented to the Board in October 2011. While there was disagreement among some Board members regarding certain language and observations in the report, the Board finally accepted all of the Team’s general recommendations and strategies (December 2011).
  4. Drafting of the Strategic Plan. The Review Team then consolidated its recommendations, strategies, feedback, and additional ideas from the Scalesia Board, into a draft Strategic Plan for the school. This plan was approved by the Foundation’s Board in March 2012.
  5. Drafting of the Business Plan. The Review Team presented several scenarios for achieving improved quality and financial sustainability, which, pending completion of a market study (not part of this project), will be presented by the Board to the Foundation’s General Assembly and Parent’s Association for approval and implementation.

Key recommendations include: Restructuring of the school’s administrative structure; significant changes in decision-making processes; increases in student fees; implementation of a sliding needs-based scholarship program, and implementation of a strategic professional development and teacher recruitment program. While a number of measures have been adopted, full implementation of this work will be realized in the 2013-2014 school year that begins in May.

Conclusions: This project has provided the Scalesia Foundation and the Tomás de Berlanga School with a viable roadmap for the future. The School does have the potential to serve as a model for Galapagos and a training ground for Galapagos teachers. A more sustainable, efficient Tomás de Berlanga School will allow the Scalesia Foundation to embark on other education initiatives, as was its original intent. While working on this project, GC has established connections with a number of guides and travelers who wish to make contributions to the school.

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