School Management in their Own Words
Florência Albino is the ZIP coordinator in the EPC 19 de Outubro ZIP in Malema district. Her ZIP (school cluster) is made up of seven schools, including the ZIP center where she is the school director.
The USAID|Aprender a Ler program started working in Florencia’s school this year, 2016. Florencia says that even though they are in the early stages of implementation, it is already possible to see some positive changes in the schools. Improvements she was most thrilled about were things like big reductions in teachers and students coming late to school, improved attendance rates which have been notoriously problematic, and even the extended intervals where teachers take long breaks outside of the classroom are being eliminated. While unpopular, she also noted the effects of the salary discounts for absent teachers that ApaL has helped to implement with its local government partners.
Florência considers the School Management Tools (SMTs) adopted from the ApaL program as a mechanism that has facilitated better control of student and teacher performances. They have provided guidance and rules on how to act in the school setting which result in strengthened routines. The tools themselves provide ways to focus on things like attendance maps, planning, punctuality, and other aspects that have real consequences for teachers and directors at the end of each week, month, year, etc. Many of her colleagues see these tools as helping to create a more productive and organized environment for all members of the school community.
“Changes can always be the cause for some resistance by people, but in this case many of our colleagues are already accepting and following the recommendations of the USAID|ApaL program. Moreover, the INSET sessions we have help a lot for the teachers to understand the results and be more encouraged. Even in the reading component, it is possible to see the children of the 1st and 2nd grade classes trying to read, which is both positive and motivating! Going forward we would like the project to continue and expand their activities to more schools in the province and even around the country for others to have the same benefits.
As managers in the ZIPs, we have been learning a lot in the trainings given by ApaL. It has been easy to see that some of the practices we were using were not always in line with the provisions set forth for the schools. A good example of this was how we had been trying to revitalize the School Councils, which ApaL now includes in their trainings and helps with how to organize them and get the parents and communities more involved.”