INVESTING IN LEADERS
BY LADISLAS NKUNDABANYANGA & EMMANUEL TURATSINZE – RUBAVU QUALITY EDUCATION TEAM
For us, the vision for the future of the school leaders we serve is to continue to empower them to become independent, think critically, and promote quality education in their schools. We would like to see these leaders be a catalyst for quality education implementation in other neighbouring schools in surrounding districts, through initiating study tours & visits, peer learning, and sharing experiences in leading teaching & learning.
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING TOWARDS THIS VISION IN 2019?
This year, we have trained school leaders in three units: (1) Roles and Responsibilities of School General Assemblies, (2) Worldview and Values, and (3) Behaviour Management. We also conducted school visits in May and June to support local leaders and monitor how they have been implementing all that they have learned. To date, this has included modules such as: School Leaders as Servant Leaders; as Trust Builders; as Team Builders; as Administrators & Managers; Asset Based Community Development (ABCD); Introduction to the National Competence Based Curriculum; and Creating School Direction.
Together with school leaders, Wellspring’s trainers also conducted meetings with the teachers in each school, as our direct work with teachers has now begun. In addition, we had the opportunity to conduct catch-up training of all of our leadership units with 29 leaders who were either newly appointed or who had missed our training for various reasons!
WHAT KIND OF CHANGE ARE YOU WITNESSING AMONG THESE LEADERS?
The change is huge and can speak for itself through the transformational activities happening in schools. Most school leaders are practising servant leadership in their schools through collaboration with teachers, parents, and the community as a whole. School leaders have established their school mission and vision, and share that this process enriched their way of working with partners as everyone is now aware of their role in school development.
Rubavu school leaders have now become leaders of teaching and learning. They now frequently observe lessons using the Rwanda Education Board’s lesson observation form, and they provide constructive feedback. Teachers who were used to blame and warnings from their leaders have been positively surprised by their leaders’ new way of working. As teachers continue receiving support and advice from our trainers, the change is remarkably amazing.
Change is also being seen through the way leaders have started trusting their teachers, by delegating and entrusting teachers with many responsibilities both inside and outside of the school. School leaders used to close the office doors when they went out, so that nothing administratively could be done in their absence – but today, the situation has dramatically changed. Deputy head teachers can access the head teachers’ offices, teachers can provide feedback and suggestions to their leaders, and this has highly promoted innovative and collaborative ways of leading schools.
Further change is seen as leaders use our Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach. Today, some leaders have taken the initiative to mobilize the community to put together funds towards various activities like building new classrooms in order to reduce class size, contributing to the school feeding program, and providing electricity in schools and classrooms. After receiving our training on ABCD and values, leaders in schools like Mutovu and Bihe have innovated ways of managing school resources, such as buying a photocopy machine, instead of paying for photocopying services.
Leaders have also innovated ways of rallying school members to reduce school dropout, which is a big issue here in Rubavu. This was done through sensitizing school members to the fact that they can invest their own efforts to find solutions. They grouped students from the same villages who committed to mobilizing and reporting those students who are tending to dropout, and bringing them back to school. In some schools, including Rubona Primary, this strategy has resulted in zero school dropout. At Rubona, 135 children had dropped out of school, but gradually every one of these children has been brought back!
COULD YOU SHARE SOME SPECIFIC IMPACT STORIES WITH US?
Reducing Dropout at Buringo School
The head teacher at Buringo was impacted by our training, and this made him improve his leadership style. In particular, he has done very well in involving his teachers and students in eradicating school dropout, a big issue in a school on the border of Rubavu and the DRC, located close to a volcano forest where many people hunt for food. Farming projects were created to give every vulnerable child a domestic animal as a source of income to prevent them from dropping out of school, but the head teacher also innovated a follow-up form for use at morning assemblies to identify irregularities, lateness, and absences. This form has gradually contributed to reducing the issues above, and in addition to the existing groups created in classes according to villages, students themselves are bringing back their peers. Before the introduction of this form, between 100-200 students could be identified to be among the above cases. After its introduction, the number reduced to 20 children, and these students are followed up on in collaboration with the local leaders!
Finding Creative Solutions at Rubavu II School
On the playground at Rubavu Primary, there was a large rock which blocked the students from freely playing their games. For a long time, it was hard for the school leader to find an appropriate solution to this enormous challenge. Many meetings were held to discuss the matter, but they failed to find a solution because it demanded a lot of money. Our ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) approach came as a response to a long-time problem. The rock became a solution to another big issue, which was the lack of a school fence, something that also seemed financially impossible. The rock was broken and the playground was set free for the children to play with full ease. Then the stones from the big rock were used to build the school fence for the children’s security!
Personal Transformation at Bwitereke School
Our training has also impacted most of the head teachers at the individual level, as they carried the transformation even back to their families. The head teacher of Bwitereke Primary has testified that his wife was surprised by the way he suddenly changed how he treated her when he arrived home. She was wondering who made him change to that extent. He was touched by the way she approached him to ask what happened, and he shared the whole process he went through because of Wellspring’s training. His school leadership changed from a monopolizing approach to shared responsibilities, which was also reflected in his approach at home.
HOW CAN OUR PARTNER COMMUNITY PRAY FOR YOU?
Your prayers are valued for safety and strength during our field work, as some schools are in very remote areas and reaching them is so hard. We also need to see school leaders consistently continue to care for their teachers and motivate them to teach and perform well. We thank you for your prayers for these leaders to work well with parents and local leaders for the benefit of each individual child.
Please join us in praying that more partners like you will come alongside the School Development work we are doing in Rubavu!