On October 7, Teach For All hosted a session at the Civil Society Policy Forum, as part of the World Bank Group and IMF Annual Meetings in Washington D.C. entitled “Leadership Development: The Missing Piece in Improving Global Education.” Teach For All CEO Wendy Kopp, who moderated the panel, was joined by Luis Benveniste, Practice Manager, Global Engagement and Knowledge at the World Bank, Shisir Khanal, CEO of Teach For Nepal, Emiliana Vegas, Chief of the Education Division at the Inter-American Development Bank, and Rebecca Winthrop, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brooking Institution.
The discussion focused on the need for intentional efforts to develop leaders at every level of the education system to accelerate progress in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) on equitable and inclusive education for all by 2030. The focus of the discussion came shortly after the release of the Education Commission’s “Learning Generation” report, which recommends strengthening and diversifying the education workforce and the development of leadership.
In her remarks, Wendy shared that the need for focused efforts to cultivate the next generation of school and system leaders, as well as public sector and civil society leaders, is a concept that hasn’t yet gained much traction in the global education realm—but with the recommendation in the Education Commission report, an avenue for the concept to take shape on a global stage had been provided.
Shisir offered a vision of what could happen if young people were motivated to go back and work in their communities. “In the last few years, we have seen that it is possible,” he said. “If you ask a typical Teach For Nepal Fellow’s classroom what they want to be when they grow up, 50% will say Teach For Nepal teachers. In about five years, the Teach For Nepal Fellows we recruit will come from these communities.”
Rebecca Winthrop echoed the importance of developing locally-rooted leadership in effecting sustainable change. “You need local leadership—you need people on the ground that know the issues and know the path forward, and you need to empower them,” she reflected on her experience working to improve girls’ education. “You need a network; it’s not enough to do a drop in the bucket program (one-time program). What [programs] need is support, financing, and a network.”
Reflecting on her work throughout Latin America, Emiliana Vegas commented that meaningful progress occurs when civil society becomes invested and engaged in education, rather than governments pushing reforms largely on their own. Luis Benveniste, a leading expert on education systems, noted that existing research shows leadership matters, but more is required to deepen our understanding of how and why it has an impact.
The Civil Society Policy Forum (CSPF) provides an open space for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to dialogue and exchange views with World Bank Group and IMF staff, their peers, government delegations, and other stakeholders on a wide range of topics.