Improving school leadership in Tanzania
Tom O'Donoghue, a retired primary principal from Co. Wexford, has spent the years since his retirement working to improve the quality of school leadership in Zanzibar in Tanzania. His work with teachers, students and parents has led to a significant improvement in 'Standard 7' test scores in the schools he has worked with. When he arrived, he found that the syllabus was not being taught in many schools, so he supported teachers to ensure that they complete the curriculum.
Bi Nema, head teacher in Bububu B School is proud to say that 'we are finishing the syllabus in all subjects in all classes'. Through his work he has brought about improvements in school attendance, and he has introduceda Whole School Evaluation to encourage staff and students to consider what their school does well, what needs to improve, and what they as a school community can do to improve the quality of teaching and learning in their school.
When head teachers thank him for the difference he has made, he reminds them that 'I never lifted chalk in your school, you did this'. Tom's work began in October 2011 with head teachers in five pilot schools, and today he has trained local facilitators to share and continue his work in 57 other schools. The way he works has change significantly. Today instead of delivering workshops in schools, he supports the work of his facilitators and brings people together to discuss and tweak the way they work.
Increasingly, his thoughts have turned to what happens after he returns to Ireland, and like any VSO volunteer he is working himself out of a job and ensuring that by the end of his placement it won't matter whether he's in Zanzibar or Wexford - the work will continue without him.