An answer to Indian school Principals’ woes?
School leadership is needed to develop learning communities, build the professional capacity of teachers, take advice from parents, engage in collaborative and consultative decision making, resolve conflicts, engage in effective instructional leadership, and attend respectfully, immediately and appropriately to the needs and requests of families with diverse cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, while delivering to national and international reforms and goals.
In a nutshell, school leadership is supposed to tackle all issues in education from every angle and take it to the next level. It is directly linked to the quality of teachers and school culture, which then defines the quality of education provided to our students.
And yet, the Indian spirit and philosophy regarding leadership is still conditioned by the British rule. ‘Loyalty’ and ‘hard’ work was and is still regarded over skills and knowledge. It is a common understanding that the most senior teachers in India are promoted to a school leadership position on the basis of their tenure, and not on their motivation, knowledge, skills or ability.
But there is a tide developing.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development has started to see the role of a School Principal as critical.
The National Centre for School Leadership (NCSL) was set up in 2012 by the National University of Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA), to ensure that Indian school principals are ready and successful in their roles, no matter why they were chosen for the role. The centre aims at “developing new generation leaders to transform schools so that every child learns and every school excels,” while, “enhancing leadership capability at a school level for institution building to deliver quality education.”
Wouldn’t we all appreciate that?
The centre further recommends a curriculum framework that has been designed by the collective effort of resource persons, individual specialists, mentors, national resource groups as well as the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL, United Kingdom). In the framework, six key areas are explored for school leadership trainings and development:
• Perspective on School Leadership — which aims to understand the role and impact of a leader on school transformation, and the role of a school as a learning organisation.
• Developing Self — which aims to help leaders reflect on their values, capabilities and attitudes, and develop a positive self-concept.
• Transforming the Teaching and Learning Process — which aims to make classroom practices more engaging, creative and child-focused, by expanding on schools as creative units.
• Building and leading teams — which focuses on group dynamics, opportunities for collaboration, conflict resolution tactics and teamwork.
• Leading innovations — which aims to set conditions, systems, structures and processes that support new ideas and actions within schools.
• Leading partnerships — which focuses on developing strong and fruitful relationships with external stakeholders such as parents, community leaders, officials in education departments, other neighbouring schools, etc.
This training is provided through a 10-day face-to-face programme, with a follow up through a year-long cycle of leadership development for the central school principals. The state is responsible for conceptualising and contextualising the curriculum and modules given by the NCSL, translating the work in local languages, providing additional state resources and expertise, etc. with the help of the State Resource Groups (SRGs), the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs), and the District Institute for Education and Trainings (DIETs), etc. The State Resource Groups are expected to develop a consortium of experts which will then act as Leadership Academies to ensure sustainability of practice and learning. The attempt to decentralise the implementation of the training — namely curriculum and material development, capacity building, networking and institutional building, and research and development — is an integral component of the programme design.
The impact of this program on the level of education and the quality of school leadership will be seen only in the next decade or so. A realistic viewing of the implementation of this program does showcase various enabling factors as well as quite a few restraining influences. Administrative apathy, lack of coordination and spread of responsibility are factors that can restrict the pace at which such training reaches the local school principals, whereas the setting of local expertise groups can enable collaboration and faster, local action in communities. Having said that, I am still very thrilled with the direction we are taking.
While I taught in a public-private partnership school in Mumbai, followed by training teachers across the city of Pune as well formally studying Educational Leadership in Finland, I saw the dire need of training and more importantly support and respect, for our school principals. The establishment of the centre has started a new drive to raise the quality and productivity of school leaders, which is more than welcome by the Indian as well as global education space.
Feature Image Credit: Indian Literacy Project
Pukhraj Ranjan is an Indian educator based out of Helsinki, Finland. She is a Teach for India 2010 cohort and staff alumni. An Educational Leadership graduate from the University of Jyväskylä, she is currently working with a not-for-profit educational organization, HundrED.org as their Global Community Manager. She believes in education as a means of understanding self and reaching one’s true potential, edu-connections and collective power.
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