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Culling leaders for literacy among principals and teachers

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Opening Remarks,
Chair, National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Kris Rampersad at
Leading for Literacy Now! training workshop
Sister Francis Xavier Heritage Hall, Abercromby Street, Port of Spain
19August 2013
Culling Leaders for LiteracyMine is the pleasure to welcome you to the opening of this round of training in our project leading for literacy now, on behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO.
 This project, Leading for Literacy Now, represents what we envision as the ideal blend of commitment, energy and drive in taking responsibility and taking action in transforming our society and the spaces we occupy, improving our communities and lifting the life chances of the youngsters and next generation of leaders in our charge.
You may well recognise the urgency we ascribe to this intervention, as we seek solutions to cull leaders for literacy, Now, as indeed – all of us must surely be attuned to the news – for every minute that we lose focus we run the risk of losing another child to one of the many delinquencies and distractions that compete for their attention.
With its ideal mix of stakeholders – it includes a confluence of vision and energies – funding support from UNESCO’s international participation programme  and the Ministry of Education to meet our budget for this pilot exercise of almostsix hundred and sixty two thousand, dollars ($661,720.00), one quarter of which comes from UNESCO’s funds and the remaining three quarters from the Ministry of Education, and indeed we must thank the Minister of Education for his wholehearted endorsement of this endeavour.
This leading for Literacy Now! project, represents an exercise in our collective as well as individual responsibility evident in the commitment of the policy and decision makers in the Minister of Education, Dr Gopeesingh who has provided unflinching support not just in funding approval but also in the involvement of technical staff of his Ministry; the engagement of technical expertise of the UK-based National College for School Leadership; principals and teachers and of course we at the National Commission and especially the very hard working and committed team of its education sector committee, headed by Mrs Crouch, and including:
Mr Bhadase Seetahal Maraj from the Ministry of Education; Dr Sandra Gift of the University of the West Indies; Mrs Shayphan Smith of the Ministry of Tertiary Education; Ms. Lucia Phillip, Executive Director of NALIS; Mrs Liseli Daaga with broad community and NGO experience; alongside the work of the secretariat led by Ms Susan Shurland; Programme Officer Ms. Hannah Katwaroo; and Research Assistant Mr. Sean Garcia.
I particularly look forward to the session on risk management and leadership drill with the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, that certainly is an example of the out of-the-box synergies required to make be effective and make an impact, by engagement other national agencies and institutions in our efforts to Lead for Literacy, Now!
This project forms part of the UNESCO “10,000 Principals Leadership Programme” launched by the UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova in 2011 as a global project to improve the quality of teaching and learning opportunities for children. It envisions training of some 10,000 principals with the intended multiplier effect to benefit thousands of teachers and principals and millions children across the globe.
Our National Commission has literacy as a top priority of our national agenda, as it is in among the Ministry of Education’s 16 national priority focus areas for education.
In this context, earlier this year the Commission unanimously took a decision to contextualise this project within what we declared as A Decade for Literacy, endorsed by the Ministry of Education, as we well recognise that it does not end here with the end of this course next Sunday or the end of the pilot a few months hence.
Indeed, it is only a beginning as we task you with taking your learnings from here, into your schools and communities, tooled with the core training activities that speak directly to some of those urgent needs within our society for leaders, for which the schools that are in your charge are the incubators, hence the inclusion of such topics as team building, organisational management, using and generating research and data, and certainly what we have been seeing as greater and greater needs in the dynamic environment in which we function today – risk management and most importantly managing change.
Beyond the immediate intentions of providing you – principals and teachers – with leadership skills so you return to the new school term with new tools to improve reading standards among students, this places you at the forefront of the agenda for change and transformation of our society into the next decade – you are not just influencers of the process, you are the transformers of it!
We have been following keenly the sharing of knowledge and ideas that have been taking place on our Leading for Literacy Now! web platform and are inspired by the cross fertilisation of ideas and energies. We encourage you to not only keep up the dialogue, but translate it into actions within your own spheres so that one of the outcomes of this programme can be the boast of all of us that, under our watch no child was left behind.
For our part at the National Commission, given the commitment we have seen to this project and the unwavering support of all concerned, we anticipate such successes that we are looking to pitch this as a model project that can be adapted for our Caribbean counterparts as well as indeed the global community of UNESCO which maintains education among the five key pillars of its focus including communications and information, science, culture, and social and human sciences.
 We look forward to receiving your reflections on this and recommendations at the end of this exercise and certainly look forward to the greatly empowered role you will play when the new school terms begins next week.
I thank you.
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