22.09.2011 - UNESCOPRESS

UNESCO and Varkey GEMS Foundation launch principals’ training programme that will impact 10 million children

© All rights reserved - Todd France/Clinton Global Initiative - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova with Bill Clinton and Sunny Varkey, Founder and Chairman of GEMS Education, following the Plenary Session of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting “Engaging Boys and Men as Allies for Long-term Change” on 22 September 2011 in New York

UNESCO and the Varkey GEMS Foundation, a not-for-profit education organization, today announced an ambitious training programme for school principals, the "10,000 Principals Leadership Programme," which will be implemented in Kenya, Ghana and India.

The announcement was made by President Bill Clinton at the yearly meeting in New York of the Clinton Global Initiative attended by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova.

"This partnership is an excellent example of the new platforms for cooperation the world needs today to achieve education for all. Tackling complex, global challenges requires innovative and far-reaching partnerships between the public and private spheres. We all have a stake in making quality education available to everyone," said the Director-General. “All evidence shows that supporting the professional development of school principals and leaders is a key to success in any reform aimed at improving the quality of education and transforming the school culture.”

School Principals in many developing countries receive little, if any, leadership and development training. This initiative foresees the training of 10,000 schools principals in the three countries targeted over four years. The multiplier effect is designed to benefit thousands of teachers and up to 10 million children.

Speaking at the announcement of the initiative, the founder of the Varkey GEMS Foundation and Chairman of GEMS Education, Sunny Varkey, said “I believe the private sector can work with intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and Governments, powerfully, to provide more education to those less fortunate. The fact that 67 million children around the world have no access to education is intolerable. For us to confront, collectively, some of the world’s biggest challenges such as poverty, conflict, prejudice and intolerance we need to lift the standards of education worldwide.”           

Under the terms of the initiative, the Varkey GEMS Foundation, in close cooperation wiith UNESCO, will provide leadership and professional development courses to improve the skills and knowledge of the school principals. The training will help prepare school leaders to provide pedagogical support and assume a guidance and counselling role for teachers, learners, and parents while handling financial, managerial and administrative issues. All of these roles require skills, knowledge and attitudes conducive to create and maintain successful learning environments and outcomes.

The project will include the compilation of baseline information on the status and the needs of principals in the three target countries. By partnering with UNESCO, the Varkey GEMS Foundation will work through UNESCO’s field offices and networks of national authorities and Teacher Training Institutions to contextualize the training programme to be delivered in the three countries.

During the first year, an initial group of trainers of trainers will be  trained to ensure consistent delivery, as well as building capacity in the required methodology. The 50-60 trainers will be further supported to train 500 principals in Ghana, Kenya and India respectively. During the subsequent three years, the 500 trained principals, working in teams of ten, will in turn be responsible for training all the beneficiaries. At all stages, support will be provided for the scalability of the programme, through the establishment of quality assurance processes, underpinned by training resources.

The initiative reinforces an agreement signed earlier this year between UNESCO and GEMS Education to strengthen and promote the advancement of girls in mathematics, science and technology through the training of teachers and school leaders, initially in Lesotho and Kenya. These projects are part of UNESCO’s Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education launched in May 2011.

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