An HIV-Free Generation in Africa: Can an Education-Reimagination Get Us There?

AidChild Leadership Institute (ALI) is an NGO based in Entebbe Uganda doing remarkable work throughout the country. Here the founder, Dr. Nathaniel Dunigan, shares his dream for an HIV-free generation.

On Friday evening, I was seated in an American friend’s large and tasteful home in Kampala, Uganda. Earlier in the day, I had traveled from my own home in Entebbe. She has lived here for 20 years, and I have been here for 18. Our reunions always begin with a discussion of traffic. Uganda’s enormous population boom and the emergence of a middle class mean that roadways are always very congested.

My friend has a personal driver for her daily commute of more than an hour—and that’s just traveling across town. “As you know, I spend a lot of time in traffic and observing,” she started. “So, get this: there’s a new guy who has emerged at one intersection, selling grated cabbage and carrots car-window to car-window—along with all the many other street vendors. He has a dish basin strapped at stomach level—hanging from his neck—and he grates the veggies into the basin. But what I can’t figure out,” she continued, “is why on earth anyone would want to buy that, and how does he give it to them? I never see any plastic bags or containers. It’s the strangest thing.”

The next day, I shared the story with one of my Ugandan colleagues, and he said, “You’re kidding, right? I mean, you know what’s happening there, don’t you?”

“No, I really don’t,” I said.

“The man is selling graters, and he’s using the cabbage and carrots to demonstrate how they work,” he said.

I share this story in our context of global education leadership for the following reasons:

  • In our global society, no matter how seasoned or thoughtful we may be, outside our own culture, we will occasionally (perhaps frequently) miss the obvious. Our success as global education leaders will forever be linked to community and relationships—to partnerships that foster inclusion and voice from a variety of individuals who will see (and express) the obvious when we miss it. This is true not just in the context of Americans living in Uganda, but also for New Yorkers in L.A., Iranians in Tokyo, Canadians in Brazil, etc.
  • Africa is booming. Despite the fact that Uganda has more road fatalities than most any other nation in the world (URSSI 2018) as well as poverty and a host of public health challenges, the population continues to grow at a tremendous rate. While Uganda is relatively small in terms of geographic size (the 82nd largest in the world), the country currently ranks at number 32 in terms of population size, and is projected to be number 18 by 2050 (Worldmeters) (CIA) .
  • Technology—of every kind—is changing everything from cabbage and carrots to politics and education, bringing both progress and risk.

On Thursday, the day before my visit to my friend in Kampala, the local electric company came to install a pay-as-you-go meter on my kitchen wall. We are among the last in our neighborhood to get this. A printed monthly bill will no longer be delivered to our gate. Instead, we will purchase units of power in advance—using our cellphones. As my son purchased our first allotment, and then entered the code into the keypad on the wall—and as the house sprang to life and light—I said to him, “Never, ever, ever could I have imagined this 18 years ago. I couldn’t even fathom a life here that included consistent power back then, let alone the mobile and satellite technology that just made our transactions possible.”

It all seemed perfectly normal to my son.

Gone are the days of traveling to a phonebooth in town to (hopefully) make a successful call. Now, while only 22% of Uganda’s population have power as I do, more than 52% have a cellphone—and often more than one (mobile phone usage in Uganda: USAID and the Daily Monitor.

It’s time to re-fathom, to reimagine what is possible, what we need to be doing now in order for the next generation to see as “normal” what we see as “impossible.”

For me, that is the goal of an HIV-free generation. In late 2000, I founded AidChild, an NGO serving orphans living with AIDS. Access to life-saving medication was impossible at that time, meaning we were a hospice facility. In 2002, we became the first in Uganda (and among the first in the world) to offer free antiretroviral therapy to children (thanks to a partnership with the AIDS Healthcare foundation). We were quickly selected as a model of pediatric HIV-AIDS care for the continent—by USAID, the CDC, and the Uganda Ministry of Health.

In May of 2017, my colleagues and I knew that it was time to reimagine yet again. We opened a Leadership Institute in Entebbe where we are creating a new model of leadership development—with

this goal of an HIV-free generation. Members of the original cohort of drug recipients in 2002 are the institute’s inaugural interns. No longer “orphans and vulnerable children,” our interns are young professionals and changemakers in training, volunteering in the community, developing their own social capital, hosting public events, engaging with our 2,000 book-library, connecting to a global community, and creating a new human development center to serve the academic and wellness needs of the generation that follows them.

So, what ingredients are needed to achieve an HIV-free generation? The reality must come from our interns’ generation. For years, the global community has rightly focused on access to water, food, medication and education in the region. Now it’s time to reimagine what that “education” must look like as we focus on the root of this wondrous possibility, which—as with so many other things—is power. I offer that an education-reimagination—in addition to academic rigor—might be driven by the following convictions:

  • Young women and men must be afforded—and then be able to understand and embrace—personal power. Herein, we as people are able to make stronger choices about sexual behavior, family planning, partner choice, etc. This power is constructed (or deconstructed) through our personal milieus, including our senses of security and of being loved.
  • All stakeholders must be offered an understanding of the distinction between our higher and lower natures. This is only possible in a life that allows and offers cognitive space beyond survival alone. Wellness and wholeness are not even abstract constructs when one doesn’t know where their next meal will come from. The above discussions show how much progress we have had here—but more must be done.
  • Marginalized communities must be normalized. Frank and open conversations about stigmatized groups—as well as engagement with them—are what foster tolerance in a generation that follows one of intolerance.
  • The capacity and desire to think beyond the here-and-now must be nurtured. In my book “We Are Not Mahogany,” I explore the dangers of a full-focus on the moment—due to a misguided conviction that one just isn’t going to live very long.

It is important to add that excellent and accessible prenatal care must also be made available throughout the region. Without this and other medical interventions and offerings, this goal truly is impossible.

It must also be said that a blogpost cannot get anywhere close to a fair unpacking of the many components of this enormous goal, but as with all reimaginations, their lives are conceived by giving them voice.

And I welcome your voice as well. Please offer your pushback and feedback below.

Meet Dr. Dunigan

Contact Dr. Dunigan:



The Importance of Early Childhood Education in an Age of Global Disruption

Steve Jacobson writes about his work with colleagues in New Zealand as they study ECE and how school leaders can assist parents. ECE is the foundation for learning and it’s crucial that all school systems provide high quality, evidence-based programs. Paula

It has long been understood that a high quality Early CPicture1hildhood Education (ECE) has tremendous potential for enhancing a child’s future academic success, especially for youngsters from economically disadvantaged communities. This belief has been reconfirmed by findings from the Perry Preschool study in the US, which indicated that ‘quality’ ECE (not just any ECE) is a cost-efficient approach for improving the long-term school and career success of children, with societal returns of roughly $16 for every $1 spent (Schweinhart et al., 2005). In a recent study of three high quality ECE centers in New Zealand that serve diverse communities confronting various levels of economic disadvantage, my colleague Ross Notman of the University of Otago and I found another benefit, one that is harder to quantify, but one we feel is particularly relevant in this current period of global disruption and migration. Specifically, we found that while the ECE leaders in the centers we studied were most concerned with the social, emotional and intellectual development of the youngsters in their care, they were also very committed to improving the parenting skills of their youngsters’ parents. This was most notably the case for families fleeing political upheavals in parts of Europe and Southeast Asia and natural catastrophes in other parts of New Zealand, such as the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. For many of these parents, especially those who were first time parents, these relocations had led to a separation from their extended families and traditional supports for childrearing from parents and other relatives that they would have otherwise anticipated had their lives not been disrupted. As a result of these events, they now had to bring in an income and parent, but without the familial support they would have had prior to the disruption.

A preschool in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo taken with permission in February 2018 by PAC

The global magnitude and impact of such disruptions cannot be overstated. For example, data from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees indicated that world-wide, immigration in 2013 reached 232 million, a figure larger than that of Brazil, the world’s fifth most populous nation. In other words, across the globe an increasing number of parents are having to go without the intergenerational wisdom and support of an extended family. Especially for the first-time parents in our study, we found that it was their child’s ECE leaders and teachers who were filling that gap by teaching them how to deal with challenging childhood behaviors such as anxiety, tantrums and/or physical aggression, many of which were exacerbated by the family’s relocation and dire economic circumstances.

Young children need exposure to lots and lots of books, something that is often a challenge in schools in marginalized communities. PAC




Our study revealed how important it was for these high-need ECE settings to become what Epstein (2011) has called a ‘family-like school’, in order to partially fill the familial gaps these parents were experiencing. The ECE leaders we studied worked hard to encourage their teachers to view parents as partners and provide them with helpful strategies and resources to support their children outside of school, which would go a long way to complement what faculty were doing in the center. Many of the parents we studied were confronting the types of socio-economic challenges common to high need communities, such as being a single parent household, having limited formal education, living below the poverty line, having unstable housing accommodations and limited time for their children. Moreover, having been displaced and cut off from their traditional familial support networks, the centers’ nurturing and engaging environments enabled them to begin to feel comfortable in entrusting their young ones to the center’s care and, more importantly, to begin modeling the parenting skills of the center’s skilled educational professionals. Parents told us how, once they began to develop some trust, they began to emulate at home what teachers and leaders had done in school as they dealt with the more challenging behaviors exhibited by their youngsters. Since many of these parents were not well-educated, nor familiar with the range of services available to them, they also very much appreciated the support they received from center leaders and teachers in identifying additional professional supports their children needed. This overlap between school and family deliberately developed by the center leaders helped these young, displaced parents build confidence in their own parenting abilities. As previously noted, we believe that these newly-learned parenting skills complement the faculty’s in-school efforts, and the impact these efforts have on after-school hour parenting may prove to be a key factor in a child’s future academic and career success.

More information about this study will be available later this year with the publications of: Jacobson, S. & Notman, R. (accepted 2018). Leadership in early childhood education (ECE): Implications for parental involvement from New Zealand. International Studies in Educational Administration, 46(1), and, Notman, R. & Jacobson, S. (accepted 2018). School leadership practices in early childhood education (ECE): Three case studies from New Zealand. In Leadership, Culture and School Success in High-Need Schools. E. Murakami, D. Gurr & R. Notman (Eds.) Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.


Meet Dr. Jacobson








Principal Preparation and Development: Highly Regulated or Loosely Structured?

Bruce Barnett provides a helpful typology for examining school leadership development around the world. Professor Barnett also highlights the trends of governments requiring qualifications for school leaders and the importance of offering professional learning opportunities. Paula


Over the past 20 years, I have had the good fortune to visit and work with educators outside the United States, particularly in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. During my international travels, I have worked with numerous school leaders, teachers, and members of professional associations and university faculty to deliver a variety of programs focusing on mentoring and coaching, reflective practice, and team development.

One of my most personally and professionally rewarding international experiences was collaborating with Gary O’Mahony and Ian Miller of the Australian Principals Centre to develop and deliver the SAGEMentoring Programme. This two-day leadership development program was sponsored by the Victorian Department of Education and various Regional Education Offices throughout the state of Victoria. We also worked with principals in Lutheran Schools in Queensland and South Australia. During the operation of the program from 2000-2007, we trained over 1000 principals to become mentors for new principals in their school systems (Barnett, 2001; Barnett, O’Mahony, & Miller, 2002).

This experience in Australia, coupled with my time in other countries, exposed me to approaches to school leadership development occurring in a variety of cultural contexts. On one hand, I came to appreciate that offering quality professional development programs for school administrators is definitely becoming a much higher priority, and many educational systems are providing resources to allow practicing administrators to participate in these programs.

On the other hand, I also realized not nearly the same level of attention is devoted to formally preparing aspiring principals in other countries as in the USA. The predominant school leadership preparation model in the USA requires aspiring principals to complete advanced-level coursework often leading to a master’s degree, pass a state-administered test, participate in an induction program provided by their employing school district, and complete a specified number of hours of professional development in order to maintain their license or certificate. Outside the USA, mandatory certification systems operated for short time periods in England and Scotland in the past decade; recently, Malaysia (Jones et al, 2015) and Indonesia (Sumintono et al, 2015) have implemented mandatory certification requirements. Nevertheless, most nations have no formal pre-qualification training requirements for educators seeking to become principals or required professional development once they start serving in the role.

Therefore, my curiosity about the variability of preparing and developing principals around the world has led me to ponder several questions:

  1. What practices and policies focus on preparing and developing school principals?
  2. What trends are evolving in the preparation and development of school principals?

Practices and Policies

My review of school leadership preparation requirements suggests there is a continuum of systems addressing school leadership and development:

  • Tightly regulated systems. Principal candidates must complete formal requirements from an authorized provider (e.g., university, local education authority). In Singapore, for example, potential leaders are identified early in their career, engage in a variety of leadership tasks, and complete interviews and assessment center tasks before determining their eligibility to engage in the principal accreditation system (Gurr & Drysdale, 2017).
  • Moderately regulated systems. Preservice school leadership programs are available and sponsored by government agencies; however, they are not mandatory to be eligible for principalship positions (e.g., Australia, New Zealand, Sweden). Induction programs are offered for new principals, some of which are required (e.g., Austria, Czech Republic) (Moller & Schratz, 2008).
  • Loosely regulated systems. Preparation programs or experiences for aspiring school leaders are sparse or non-existent. Professional development is offered for practicing principals, although offerings are infrequent, require long distance travel, and participants costs are not covered (e.g., Africa, Asia, Mexico, Central and South America) (Lumby, Crow, & Pashiardis, 2008).

There also is great variability in how educational systems determine if principal candidates are prepared to take on the role. In their review of the processes used for identifying and assessing the readiness of aspiring principals for the principalship in Australia and 11 other countries, Gurr and Drysdale (2017) discovered several trends. First, although most systems require principals to come from the teaching ranks, some systems require candidates to possess demonstrated leadership experience, have served as senior teachers, and/or have completed a specified qualification process. Second, most principalship candidates self-select for the position; some systems encourage mentoring, nominations, or recommendations from superiors. Very few nations tightly regulate eligibility for potential principal candidates (e.g., Singapore), some countries require candidates to complete an approved certification program to be eligible for principal vacancies (USA, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Scotland beginning in 2019), while many others have few restrictions on who can apply for principalships. Finally, some systems, especially those that require certification, assess candidates’ qualifications based on pre-determined national or local professional standards, and more countries are establishing standards and competencies for principals (e.g., Hong Kong, Russia, New Zealand).

International Trends

Because of the important role principals play in improving the learning conditions for students (see Paula Cordeiro’s March 8, 2018 post, “Girls’ Education Goes Beyond Getting Girls into School” and Tony Townsend’s March 14, 2018 blog, “Leading Literacy Learning: Sharing Leadership at its Best” for good examples), more attention is being devoted to preparing and developing principals. Despite the fact that many countries have a loosely regulated system for identifying, preparing, and developing school leaders, there is growing evidence that these conditions are changing. For instance, Huber’s (2008) analysis of leadership development patterns in 15 countries across Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North America revealed that: (a) preparatory qualification programs are being offered more frequently, (b) more training programs are being developed to explore the challenges and realities of the principalship and its responsibilities, (c) leadership development is shifting from administrative and legal issues to communication, cooperation, leadership, change, and continuous improvement, and (d) workplace learning experiences are increasing (e.g., mentoring, internships), rather than relying only on course-based learning.

While these international trends are neither universal nor have been adopted in many nations, they do suggest an increasing realization of the need to provide professional support for educators who aspire to and become school principals.

Even tightly regulated systems, like in the USA, changes in the preparation and development of school leaders are occurring. For example, research has identified the important features of effective principal preparation (Davis & Darling-Hammond, 2012; Orr & Orphanos, 2011). However, many programs do not implement these features because of high costs and lack of resources, and most state policy makers have not created legislative policies supported by these research findings (Anderson & Reynolds, 2015).

In addition, an increasing number of principal preparation providers besides universities have surfaced, such as non-profit organizations, school districts, and charter schools (Tozer, Zavitkovsky, Whalen, & Martinez, 2015) as well as a host of on-line programs. This situation has created far more certified administrators than positions exist. Consider these statistics from two states:

  • In Illinois, there are just under 3000 practicing principals, slightly more than 400 new principals are hired each year, with over 44,000 certified candidates (Haller & Hunt, 2016)
  • In Texas, where over 8000 principals are employed, there are about 800 vacancies per year, and preparation programs produce over 2500 certified master’s degree candidates annually (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 2018).

In order to regulate the number of university preparation programs and utilize state resources more efficiently, a number of states, including Ohio, North Carolina, and Illinois, required universities programs to reapply for program approval, resulting in a reduced number of approved providers.

What does the future hold for school leadership preparation and development? Clearly, there is growing interest by policymakers and professional associations around the world to raise the quality of principal preparation and development. Although pre-qualification requirements for the principalship may never reach the same level as for teacher certification, my sense is that there is growing momentum to ensure principal candidates are better prepared for the role and supported once they take on the job. I am heartened by the growing recognition that aspiring and practicing principals deserve the professional support, guidance, and resources needed to improve their capacity to influence school improvement and learning.

I welcome your comments and suggestions regarding how educational systems and providers around the world are addressing leadership preparation and development.

Meet Dr. Barnett

Anderson, E., & Reynolds, A. (2015). A policymaker’s guide: Research-based policy for principal preparation program approval and licensure. Charlottesville, VA: University Council for Educational Administration.
Barnett, B. (2001). Mentoring for practising and aspiring school leaders: The “SAGE” model. Australian Principals Centre Monograph, No. 4. Hawthorne, Victoria: APC.
Barnett, B., O’Mahony, G., & Miller, I. (2002). The promise of mentoring. Prime Focus, 29, 23-26.
Davis, S., & Darling-Hammond, L. (2012). Innovative principal preparation programs: What works and how we know. Planning and Changing, 43(1/2), 25-45.
Gurr, D., & Drysdale, L. (2017). Aspiring principals capstone assessment processes. Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University Graduate School of Education.
Haller, A., & Hunt, E. (2016). Statewide data on supply and demand of principals after policy changes to principal preparation in Illinois. Normal IL: Center for the Study of Education Policy, Illinois State University.
Huber, S. G. (2008). School development and school leader development: New learning opportunities for school leaders and their schools. In J. Lumby, G. Crow, & P. Pashiardis (Eds.), International handbook on the preparation and development of school leaders (pp. 163-175). New York: Routledge.

Jones, M., Adams, D., Joo, M. T. H., Muniandy, V., Perera, C. J., & Harris, A. (2015). Contemporary challenges and changes: Principals’ leadership practices in Malaysia. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 35(3), 353-365.

Lumby, J., Crow, G., & Pashiardis, P. (2008) (Eds.). International handbook on the preparation and development of school leaders. New York: Routledge.
Moller, J., & Schratz, M. (2008). Leadership development in Europe. In J. Lumby, G. Crow, & P. Pashiardis (Eds.), International handbook on the preparation and development of school leaders (pp. 341-366). New York: Routledge.
Orr, M. T., & Orphanos, S. (2011). Graduate level preparation influences the effectiveness of school leaders: A comparison of the outcomes of exemplary and conventional leadership preparation programs for principals. Educational Administration Quarterly, 47(1), 18-70.
Sumintono, B., Sheyoputri, E. Y. A., Jiang, N., Misbach, I. H., & Jumintono (2015). Becoming a principal in Indonesia: Possibility, pitfalls and potential, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 35(3), 342-352.
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (2018). Retrieved from:
Tozer, S., Zavitkosky, P., Whalen, S., & Martinez, P. (2015). Change agency in our own backyards: Meeting the challenges of next-generation program in school leadership preparation. In M. Khalifa, N. W. Arnold, A. F. Osanloo, & C. M. Grant (Eds.), Handbook of urban educational leadership (pp. 480-495). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.



Brain Date* on Learning Transfer: The Missing Link to Learning

Guest post from Corinne Brion, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of San Diego. Corinne completed her doctoral research in West Africa and has spent this year assisting with trainings for school leaders in five sub-Saharan nations.

 IMG_4053Corinne Brion

  For the past five years, I’ve been fortunate to be part of a research and training team working with school leaders in Low-Fee Private Schools (LFPSs) in Francophone and Anglophone Africa. We have been tasked to help design contextually appropriate leadership materials, train local school leaders and train trainers (TOT) to ensure the sustainability of the model. Lastly, we have conducted research in Burkinabe and Ghanaian schools.

As you can imagine, I have many stories to tell and countless adventures  to share from various trips to Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Rwanda and Ethiopia. For now, though, I would like to share what I’ve learned from these school leaders related to the concept of learning transfer. Here I present the main findings of a research study that took place in 2016 in Burkina Faso and Ghana. The study aimed at understanding what enhanced and hindered learning transfer among these school leaders  (Brion & Cordeiro 2017). Thirteen school leaders from six different schools were interviewed after they attended a three-day leadership training. For this project, I worked with 2 different educational systems and two different national languages.

First, let’s be clear on what learning transfer is. It is defined as the application of newly acquired knowledge to the workplace or home. And, why should we pay attention to learning transfer? First, we should be attuned to this because every year billions of dollars are spent on trainings, workshops or meetings and only 10% of the new knowledge gets transferred to the work place (Broad & Newstrom, 1997). In Africa alone, $921 million were spent on education between 2010-2012, and despite the monies invested, there is little evidence of improved student learning outcomes (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization 2015). This illustrates, in part, the lack of understanding and focus that governments, policy makers, educators, facilitators and trainers have placed on training and learning transfer (Awoniyi et al., 2002; Ford, 1994). Oftentimes programs are not adapted to the participants’ needs and do not take into account how adults best learn (Knowles, 1980; Mezirow, 2000).

A second reason we need to pay attention to learning transfer is because it is urgent that we build the capacity of school leaders in marginalized communities and sustain quality educational leadership in order to get a return on our investments in professional development.

From this study, I learned that there were several factors that supported the transfer of learning. In both countries, these factors included the location and logistics of the training, the facilitator’s content knowledge and disposition, the adequate content of the training and the active andragogy used. In Burkina Faso, the certificate of completion presented to all participants at the end of the training as well as the testimonials given by an alumnus seemed to have supported the transfer of learning as well. When given a certificate of completion and hearing testimonials, participants perceived that they were more competent, felt confident, and were motivated to transfer the new learning to their schools. But let me stop here and give you an opportunity to view the photos below, evidencing that learning transfer did occur post training.


I also found key challenges to learning transfer. The inhibitors in both countries were not only financial but also associated with (a) human behavior (referring to the difficulties in changing mind sets and habits and the fact that it is easier to paint a wall than changing a hiring process or diet), (b) competition (between schools and within the schools between younger and veteran leaders), (c) culture (the practice of juju, a witchcraft), and (d) logistics (leaders from one school in Ghana referred to the scheduling of the training as being an issue as the training took place while the school was still in session).

This study could have a significant impact on schools in marginalized communities since school leaders play a pivotal role in the overall success of the schools and student learning outcomes. The study is significant for any non-profit organization, government agency, or organization whose goal is to assist educational growth in developing countries. Applying learning transfer concepts and following up on them would not only ensure that training funds are well spent, but also contribute to reaching Goal Number 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals “Providing a Quality Education for All” by 2030.

So, next time you plan a training, workshop or even a meeting, take into account learning transfer! If you are sharing this mindset, let’s have a Brain Date!

*The term brain date is used as a way to foster conversations and reflections among like-minded educators and educational leaders.
Awoniyi, E. A., Griego, O. V., & Morgan, G. A. (2002). Person-environment fit and transfer of training. International Journal of Training and Development6(1), 25-35.
Broad, M. L., & Newstrom, J. W. (1992). Transfer of training: Action-packed strategies to ensure high payoff from training investments. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press.
 Ford, J. K. (1994). Defining transfer of learning: The meaning is in the answers. Adult       Learning5(4), 22-30.
  Knowles, M. (1980). My farewell address . . . Andragogy no panacea, no ideology. Training and Development Journal34(8), 48-50.
Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. The Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series. Indianapolis, IN: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2015). Education for all 2000-2015: Achievements and challenges (EFA Global Monitoring Report). Paris, France: UNESCO.

Meet Dr. Brion