The Mastercard Foundation’s ‘Leaders in Teaching’ initiative is paving the way to SDG 4 in Sub-Saharan Africa by focusing on four pillars in education: recruiting the best teachers, training them, leading them and motivating them. In Rwanda, the Foundation has commissioned VVOB with near to 9.6 million dollars to put the ‘train’ and ‘lead’ dimensions of the initiative into practice, indirectly contributing to the ‘motivate’ one too. Here’s how.
21st century skills
International studies have shown that teachers and school leaders are critical ingredients for quality education: teachers improve learning outcomes and learner wellbeing, and rely on competent school leaders to do so. Rwanda’s students in secondary education depend on these actors to obtain the skills and competencies needed to succeed in the 21st century.
Under the umbrella of the Mastercard Foundation’s ‘Leaders in Teaching’ initiative in Rwanda, VVOB will focus on the continuous professional development of school leaders and teachers in secondary education.
As in any other profession, a qualification doesn’t equal a perfect grasp of what the job will entail in reality. Especially for teachers, lack of proper induction during the challenging first years of their career can lead to demotivation and them eventually leaving the profession. Newly qualified teachers need and deserve a proper school-wide support system to ensure retention, motivation and quality teaching.
The school-based support system for teachers takes the form of a professional learning community (PLC) with these participants:
- A school-based mentor who is trained in mentoring, coaching and PLCs
- The deputy head teachers who will partake in a diploma course on Effective School Leadership (see further)
- The head of department/school subject leader for STEM who is trained in mentoring, coaching and PLCs
- All teachers, i.e. new and initial ones but also experienced teachers. Change is most sustainable when the whole school team is on board.
Many school leaders in Rwanda are actually former teachers. In other words, these otherwise motivated school leaders don’t necessarily have good leadership competences. But effective school leaders are crucial when it comes to raising learners’ achievements, especially in poorly performing and disadvantaged schools.
That’s why, for VVOB, continuous professional development and lifelong learning for both teachers and school leaders are linchpins of quality education. Capacities can be developed.
- During the project, head teachers and deputy head teachers of 744 secondary schools will enroll in a diploma course on Effective School Leadership, jointly developed with University of Rwanda – College of Education (URCE).
- However, as VVOB’s experience has shown, top-down strategies like a course alone are insufficient. They need to be complemented by structures that involve school leaders themselves. That way, professional learning communities of school leaders can be an effective form of professional development.
- To maximise these communities’ effectiveness and sustainability, they will be facilitated by sector education officers. These 194 government officials will receive training on mentoring, coaching and PLCs.
In short, VVOB’s role in the ‘Leaders in Teaching’ initiative revolves around developing the capacity of national and local education authorities in supporting teachers and school leaders. This will be done both in close partnership with local institutions URCE and Rwanda Education Board, and in full alignment with the government’s priorities and strategies.