UNESCO partners with GEMS Education to bolster Girls’ and women’s education and teacher training

In April 2012, Mr Sunny Varkey, founder and Chairman of GEMS Education, was appointed UNESCO Goodwill ambassador for Education partnerships by UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova

UNESCO and GEMS Education, owner and operator of over 100 international schools worldwide, have joined forces to tackle girls’ education and teacher shortages in developing countries. Under the framework partnership agreement signed in March 2011 for a period of four years, UNESCO and GEMS are implementing teacher training programmes that also promote girls’ and women’s education in Kenya and Lesotho. GEMS Education is a founding partner of the Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s education launched on 26 May 2011 by UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova.

The partnership between UNESCO and GEMS Education aims at increasing the enrolment, participation and advancement of girls and women in science, mathematics and technology education by enhancing the teaching of those under a balanced gender approach. Through the partnership with UNESCO, GEMS Education is providing support in reaching Education for All (EFA) goal 6 - Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills - through the improvement of teacher quality and a contribution towards the achievement of gender parity in education.

In this regard, reinforcing gender-sensitivity in teacher education and training programmes is an important component of teacher strategies contributing to the achievement of the EFA goals.

This pilot initiative targeting Kenya and Lesotho in Sub-Saharan Africa aims at promoting the participation of girls and women in science, mathematics and technology education. The project is undertaken in the context of UNESCO’s initiatives to support Member States in promoting and improving the quality of science and mathematics education at all levels of the education system.

On 22 September 2011, Bill Clinton announced the launch of the "10,000 Principals Leadership Programme" at the yearly meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative attended by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. This initiative foresees the training of 10,000 school principals in Ghana, India and Kenya and over four years. The multiplier effect is designed to benefit thousands of teachers and up to 10 million children.

School Principals in many developing countries receive little, if any, leadership and development training. Under the terms of the initiative, the Varkey GEMS Foundation, in close cooperation with 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.

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, India and Kenya 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.

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