The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr. Evelyn Ndlovu has paid tribute to the British Council, HigherLife Foundation and Delta Corporation for partnering the Ministry to deliver the Leading Learning for Gender Equality (LL4GE) programme which she believes is going to be a game changer as it adds a gender equality dimension to instructional leadership which is considered the most effective school leadership practice for improving pupil learning outcomes.
The LL4GE programme which has so far seen more than 1500 school leaders from 12 districts undergoing training, is initially targeting rural areas with schools generally identified as low performing with poor infrastructure and limited access to technology. Districts already covered and are at various stages of implementation are Beitbridge, Binga, Bulilima, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Gokwe North, Hurungwe, Makoni, Mangwe, Muzarabani, Mwenezi and UMP and the intention is to eventually cover all the 72 districts in the country.
While the programme started as instructional leadership training, the infusion of the gender equality aspect has been necessitated by the need to address gender biases inherent in schools as a way of improving educational outcomes for girls. As a result some of the critical topics covered during the LL4GE workshops include crafting a gender inclusive school vision and gender inclusive pedagogy among others.
The LL4GE programme is designed to provide sustained learning over time and is staged to allow for work-based practice meant to ensure learning is embedded into leadership behaviours and school structures or systems. This entails that school heads are engaged initially through intensive face to face training followed by the implementation of a cost effective school based project by each head with direction and support being given through three follow up webinars and finally through the intensive face to face reflection workshop where each school head is given an opportunity to present their school project and receive feedback from the facilitators and fellow heads. The workshops are delivered by 25 British Council validated facilitators drawn from the rank and file of the Ministry and have undergone training in leading learning for gender equality.
Addressing school leaders from Bulilima and Mangwe districts attending the initial face to face training workshop, Dr. Ndlovu while applauding the British Council and partners for their role in the roll out of the programme, called on the school heads to take the training seriously in order to enhance learning outcomes at their institutions especially considering some schools were still recording zero percent pass rate at Grade 7 and Ordinary Level.
“We are indebted as a Ministry to the British Council and other partners for rolling out such an important programme meant to capacitate our school heads to become effective leaders. I call upon you all to take this training on leading learning for gender equality seriously in order to improve the learning outcomes of our pupils,” noted Dr. Ndlovu.
School heads that have undergone training in the LL4GE programme have also paid tribute to the programme for giving them a new outlook on the way school leadership should be practiced for improved learning outcomes.
Commenting after the initial face to face workshop in Nkayi, Dimpamiwa Primary School Head Lovelet Ncube had this to say: “I learnt a lot about school vision. Schools have to draw up visions that are gender sensitive and include gender equality which I believe as staff at Dimpamiwa we are going to sit and be in line with those expectations.”
She also added that the implementation of a cost effective school based project will assist the school in addressing some of the challenges that they are already experiencing.
The majority of school based projects, as reflection workshops have so far demonstrated, have been on addressing the problem of non-readers in most rural schools. The majority of the school heads have identified this as one of the prime contributors to low pass rates and the recommendation has been that there should be continuous focus on reading even after ECD.