Teachers and school leaders are two critical sets of actors in improving the quality of education. Effective school leadership is required for the professional development of teachers and strong school leadership is fundamental to improve the quality of education. But how can school leader capacity be transformed? The African Union Innovating Education in Africa Expo invited VVOB to present about 'Transforming capacity development of school leaders in Rwanda through ICT'.
Developing modalities for school leaders’ capacity building
With VVOB’s support, Rwanda Education Board (REB) developed two modalities for the professional development of school leaders:
- Continuous professional development (CPD) training programme on Effective School Leadership, aimed at equipping school leaders with the competences needed to fulfil their roles.
- Professional learning communities (PLCs) of school leaders, aimed at bridging the gap between theory, policy and practice of effective school leadership, and to create a forum for sharing good practices.
Since 2017, VVOB has been facilitating CPD training programmes in both primary and secondary schools through its multi-year programme Leading, Teaching and Learning Together. In secondary education, the CPD programmes are being offered as part of the Mastercard Foundation Leaders in Teaching initiative. Leaders in Teaching is an initiative that transforms teaching and learning in secondary education across Africa so young people have the skills and competencies they need to succeed in work and life.
Integrating ICT in CPD for school leaders
To provide cost-effective, flexible and personalised training, ICT is being integrated in the abovementioned modalities of CPD for school leaders. In 2018, about 700 schools received a laptop to participate in CPD training programmes. The training programmes are being redeveloped for delivery in a blended modality. School leaders will learn the content online from their workplace or at home. The frequency of face-to-face sessions will be reduced and dedicated to deepening the understanding of the content. Interactive learning activities are developed for an online learning management system (Moodle), including alternatives for contexts of limited connectivity. Trainees will be requested to compile an ePortfolio while the training programme unfolds to assess their achieved competences. The CPD training programme on Effective School Leadership is rolled out in three cohorts of school leaders, eventually reaching 1360 head teachers and deputy head teachers in secondary education.
In parallel, 234 sector education officers (SEOs), from 17 districts received a tablet. A set of multimedia resources on educational topics will be available on the tablets. This digital library will be regularly updated and will support the SEOs to facilitate the PLCs of school leaders. The tablets are also equipped with eMonitoring forms developed to collect data on different aspects of the PLCs, including attendance of school leaders to the PLC sessions, topics being discussed, and actions taken. A dashboard on the tablet will feed back information and will allow the SEOs to keep track of their respective PLCs.
Upscaling the CPD programme through ICT
The innovation is being implemented by key partners in the decentralised education system of Rwanda. The CPD training programme is delivered to school leaders by lecturers of the University of Rwanda – College of Education (URCE). These lecturers received a training on e-tutoring facilitated by VVOB. Quarterly PLC sessions are organised by trained SEOs in each administrative sector. The SEOs received a training on the use of the tablets and eMonitoring also facilitated by VVOB.
The use of ICT supports school leaders and SEOs to take responsibility and promote quality of education in Rwanda. The online modalities allow REB to establish mechanisms to monitor the CPD of school leaders countrywide.
Ultimately, and in line with educational policies in Rwanda, the objective is to make the CPD training programme a mandatory training for all aspiring and in-service school leaders in Rwanda and to offer it at an affordable cost. VVOB, REB and URCE are now exploring how to develop education leadership capacity in and through ICT, in line with Rwanda’s ICT in Education Policy of 2016. When scaled up to the national level, this model of integrating ICT will transform the professional capacity development of school leaders. It will reduce costs of delivery and allow school leaders to learn at their own pace, while giving them more ownership in their own learning.