Building the Capacity of School Directors
“When I was appointed a school director, I knew nothing. I’d been a teacher for 12 years, but I was promoted to director, put in a new school, and told to go to work. I knew nothing!” says Alcacia Feliciamo Conta, Director at the Escola Primaria de Cassore (Cassore Primary School) in Nampula, Mozambique.
“But I was lucky! The Aprender a Ler project was starting in my school that year, so I was able to get the training I needed. I learned the importance of rules and routines, of setting up systems for things like teacher attendance, so that teachers are held accountable for coming to school and doing their jobs,” she says. “But there are so many things I learned,” she continues.
When asked about the most important thing she learned in training, Directora Conta says, “everything is integrated so there is no one thing. The set of routines all complement each other and all work together, so I cannot identify just one thing.” Building local capacity is a core component of World Education’s approach in implementing the USAID|Aprender a Ler project. Training teachers in how to engage a classroom of students, training reading coaches to work one-on-one with students, and, perhaps most importantly, training school directors in effective school management, have been critical to the success of the program.
Directora Conta says that she has taken advantage of every single training Aprender a Ler has offered. Not only has she undergone the School Director trainings, but she has also attended the Reading Training for teachers and participated as a teacher. “I can now teach the class effectively if a teacher is absent. The students don’t have to miss a day of learning, because I can step in,” she says.
“At every step of the way, Aprender a Ler has helped me learn what to do, then I test the approaches in my school, and they work!” she enthuses. “They helped me learn to be a leader and even about the importance of school finances,” Directora Conta says. “Finances have been so important because the community had lost trust in the school management before I arrived here. Now the community raises funds for the school and puts that money in the bank. Many community members had never had a bank account before, but they can see where the money goes themselves now. Even the community’s skills are improving! My own household is also better managed. Aprender a Ler training has helped with every aspect of my life!”
Directora Conta is just one of the more than 1,150 school directors from 1,214 schools who’s leadership and management skills have been built by the USAID | Aprender a Ler project.