The third part of feedback from the Inspiring Leadership Conference an input from Sir Michael Barber who talked passionately about the work he was undertaking in Pakistan in looking to deliver on the millennium development goals of education for all by 2015.
Michael Barber – Getting every child into school and learning – why wait?
An inspiring opportunity to hear about a deep level of commitment to supporting education and development in the Punjab province in Pakistan. He had visited 39 times in the last 4 years and identified there was a deep rooted need for change due to some key factors;
- Water crisis
- Energy crisis
- Security crisis – it has more nuclear weapons than the UK and is currently a fragile democracy
Michael Barber said it can be transformed if we have a dream for what society it can become, “I want my grandson to honeymoon in the beauty of Punjab” as a changed society. The key focus of his work was looking to get every child into school – a report from UNESCO suggested it would take 70 years. This is not acceptable and all must be committed to ensure we have no time to wait.
Punjab has a population of 100 million people with 25 million children, it is a society nearly twice the size of the UK. The challenge was to create a Punjab education reform roadmap, set the plan and check the implementation. What was needed was to ensure it happens in every school across the system. How could this be achieved?
- Data and targets – student attendance, teacher attendance – every month data on key indicators
- District administration – merit committee setup so they were not political appointments but based on ability and merit
- Developed planning and consistency
- Public – private partnerships – how do ensure all schools benefit and are held to account
- Supporting programmes – fixing facilities and the quality of schools
They improved all areas identified within the measures but also the quality of child’s learning. An effective stock take happened every two months so that any problems could be solved in real time. The Chief Minister saying they were “backing those doing a great job and sacking those who were dead wood”.
Next steps included;
- A further focus and drive on teacher quality and had looked to focus on developing teacher coaches
- Get better still at enrolment drives to get children into school
- Expand the voucher programme for the poorest families to pay for education
- There was an ambition to get as close to Malaysia as possible and get the children the education that they deserve
- 37% of children in school and actually learning something. It was not enough to just enrol children!
What will it take to get every child into school?
- Quality – strong management and accountability, good basic facilities, excellent materials, teachers appointed on merit, coaching for every teacher, time on task.
- Enrolment – targets at every level, daily monitoring, go door-to-door, involve teachers and children, involve the community, independent verification. Influences are the Imam, the nurses and the barber who cuts the beard – engage them as advocates of education.
- Public and private – 60:40, the message, targeting places and families, competition. Delivery and leadership from the top. Consistent priority, data, the delivery chain, routines, shared learning, check and check.
- System and community
- Ground campaign and air campaign – what happens on the ground and the vision, leadership and direction.
- Risk of doing nothing is often much greater…
- To get the turnaround you need to get the routines right… otherwise you go from crisis to crisis
They are now doing the same in health in Punjab. Infant mortality is 88 in 1000 in the UK and it is 3. In India Punjab it is 37 – why is it so different? Minister said to health leaders “how can you sleep at night?” – with this commitment you knew there could be change. There was two underlying feelings that I was left with from this discussion.
We have a broader commitment to ensuring all children, irrelevant of where they are born in the world, are given the opportunities to live, learn and grow. This would transform the world we live in. It challenged me to think of the inspiring work of Hands for Hope Uganda, a small charity that transforms the community it serves through getting children to school. It is clear how education transforms the opportunities for not just the children but their whole families. The charity was founded by a friend of mine, Joe, who went to Uganda for 5 days and has now been there doing this work in a dedicated, passionate and selfless way for the last 9 years. If you want to make a difference look at how you can support this wonderful work and get every child into education.
I had heard Sir Michael Barber speak before on education and leadership. He always spoke well but this time there was a difference. There was fire in his heart, this was something he believed in deep within and he had made a commitment to see it through and have an impact. Perhaps this is what we need to feel in anything we do. If we see why it matters, not just on a professional level, we can have this fire and passion too – let’s all make what we do in our leadership personal!