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Headmasters train to become better Managers

© UNICEF/ 2008
Participants introduce themselves at the ice-breaking

Chennai, 15 October 2008: “I’m Anbu, Headmaster of the Mekala Chinampalli School in Krishnagiri District. My hobbies are reading books, listening to music and keeping myself updated with current affairs.”

Mr. Anbu, Headmaster from Krishnagiri along with 39 of his colleagues from the districts of Nagapattinam and Tiruvannamalai, participated in a three-day soft-skills training programme organized by UNICEF and the Department of Education, Tamil Nadu, for headmasters of High Schools and Higher Secondary Schools.

The ground work began in end 2006. With the goal of extending human resource and business process training to headmasters who were managers of the school, UNICEF approached educational institutions, non-profit organizations and corporates in India and abroad to help design training material and provide training.

The comprehensive training programme was initiated in order to equip the headmasters with communication; influencing and time-management skills to enable them understand their roles and perform better. Corporate volunteers from ING USA, Argentina and Netherlands along with UNICEF staff helped train the headmasters.  This training programme was also conducted at Madurai and Coimbatore for headmasters from other districts. In all, 450 headmasters and 30 DIET faculty underwent training during the months of August-September this year.

At the training programme

The ice-breaking session at the training programme was designed to help them relax, get to know each and make the programme more participatory. Participants stood in a circle, passing a ball of string and introducing themselves amidst laughter and cheers- a far cry from the nature of work that they do everyday.

The entire course was designed to be activity based, interactive and informal. Brainstorming, role play and fun-filled exercises were the primary tools used to drive home messages.

“The training programme was interesting throughout. There was not a dull moment,” said a satisfied Headmaster of the Government Boys Higher Secondary School, Ahmed Sheriff. Krishnagiri who also said that this was a first-of-its-kind training programme, that he was attending. “There was a lot of freedom to speak. I have realized that I have to be the change, I want to see,” added another headmaster.

For the trainers too, it was an experience of a lifetime. Bonnie Carrera, from the USA who works as a life insurance consultant with ING, recollects that she wanted to volunteer at Brazil, but was lured to India. She says that she enjoyed training the participants as much as they enjoyed the training programme.  She bonded very well with the participants, learning to speak ‘Indian English’ and learning about local culture and food. The experiences of Irene from Netherlands and Yanina from Argentina pretty much echoed the same sentiments.

That was when ING, already involved in a child labour programme in Tamil Nadu, offered to develop the training modules. Manon Fracken, an employee of ING, developed the training modules after extensive research by visiting schools, talking to over 100 headmasters in Tamil Nadu and meeting with officials from the education department. The State Education Department agreed to immediately implement the training programme once the course content was ready. In the first phase, headmasters of High Schools and Higher Secondary Schools have been trained.

The ground work began in end 2006. With the goal of extending human resource and business process training to headmasters who were managers of the school, UNICEF approached educational institutions, non-profit organizations and corporates in India and abroad to help design training material and provide training. 

That was when ING, already involved in a child labour programme in Tamil Nadu, offered to develop the training modules. Manon Fracken, an employee of ING, developed the training modules after extensive research by visiting schools, talking to over 100 headmasters in Tamil Nadu and meeting with officials from the education department. The State Education Department agreed to immediately implement the training programme once the course content was ready. In the first phase, headmasters of High Schools and Higher Secondary Schools have been trained.

“The next stage is to extend the training to the remaining headmasters. This is not the end though; only the beginning. We also have to assist the headmasters practice what they have learnt,” says one of the Joint directors of the Department of Education, Tamil Nadu, Rajarajeswari.

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