Central Asia: School Development Initiative for Managers and Policymakers
Improving school management and supporting school managers’ active role in vocational education development is the focus of the new initiative launched by the ETF in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on 15 and 16 March.
The initiative will build on the recently completed school development project that ran from 2009 to 2011. It will involve up to 200 schools in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and will have observers from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
‘Schools are feeling competition from other sources of vocational training and education, including international competition,’ says Anar Beishembaeva from the Agency on Vocational Education and Training, Ministry of Youth, Labour and Employment in Kyrgyzstan. ‘That’s why they really need to develop their management capacities. In the current environment vocational schools need to look for partners and resources. They also need to become more flexible and responsive, so that they can reach out to new student groups. For this they need strategic thinking, vision, and the skills to do it.’
The private Polytechnic College “Progress” in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where Janna Telpekbaeva is the director, gives training to future car mechanics, programmers and accountants.
‘Directors must be real managers, innovators, and must work using marketing principles,’ says Ms Telpekbaeva. ‘The current developments in our society and labour market require that we become flexible, plan strategically, and have a new approach to teaching, so that it responds to local demand.’
Another component of the newly launched project is the strengthening of the links between schools and policymakers.
According to Ms Beishembaeva, what is crucial for the dialogue between the schools and policymakers is making the benefits clear. Once there is this clarity ‘it’s the matter of choosing the tools and the format.’ She cites Kyrgyzstan’s practice in which strategic documents are consulted with selected schools, the role of school boards, and the national skills council.
‘School development is an instrument to demonstrate that schools can do more than they have been doing until now by thinking more about their vision, their strategy, by extending networks, acquiring a better view of what is in demand, and through financial support and investment,’ says Arjen Vos, Head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia operations at the ETF.
‘It is very much a process, it is building capacity to do more and [building] awareness that schools can do more.’