The Mission of Katalyst Education is, based on the principles of Open Educational Resources, to facilitate a level playing field for all students in Poland by developing digital education tools and providing services to enable their optimal use.
Our interest in leveling the education playing field started in 2012 with the kindergarten through high school grades (K through 12), when we learned of a problem poor families often faced. The schools required parents to purchase most of the books for their children.
Additionally, most K-12 books were published with the exercises and tests in the book such that the books could be used only once. This limited the potential for passing the books along for use by the next group of children coming into the same grade. So, children from poor families were also deprived of the option to use hand-me-down books.
Since then, the situation has improved substantially. In 2014, the Ministry of Education introduced open digital textbooks for K-12, vowed to provide free printed textbooks, and forced publishers to provide textbooks and exercises separately, in order to make the textbooks reusable.
However, there still remains another big educational issue affecting less affluent families which might not be easily solved by the government. According to a report from the Open Society Institute, as many as half of Polish K-12 students have used or are using paid private tutoring to keep up with the curriculum. It might indicate that many of the families which do not use tutoring do so because they just cannot afford it, leaving their children at a disadvantage.
Moreover, there are other circumstances where students could benefit by repeated exposure to educational materials at times and at a pace of their own choosing. We believe this might be ameliorated with the help of digital technology.
In general, digital technology offers many opportunities for low-cost delivery of high-quality educational tools and curricula. After conducting extensive market research, Katalyst Education identified more than a dozen opportunities where digital tools could make a marked impact on achieving a level educational playing field. Katalyst Education is currently engaged in realizing three of these opportunities – the Pi-stacja video channel, the CNX/OpenStax textbook repository, and the Career Map. More information on each of these can be found on the PROJECTS pages.
We are proud to be a part of White Star Foundations in Poland and are supported by The Brian D. Patterson USA-International Foundation. For more information see: http://whitestarfoundations.org.