The Tonga Secondary Schools Leadership Program (TSSLP), an Australian Government initiative of AusAID's Pacific Leadership Program (PLP), was launched in Nuku'alofa on Thursday, April 26.
Designed to provide targeted leadership training for secondary school principals and their leadership and governance teams, the TSSLP was launched with the opening of a Training Conference for 31 principals from all over the country. The conference will be followed by a mentoring program linking them with local mentors to support them in meeting their leadership challenges.
The principals attending the Training Conference were present at the launch, where an opening address was delivered by Minister for Education, Women's Affairs and Education, Dr. ‘Ana Maui Taufe'ulungaki. Accompanying her as key participants in the launch program was Mr. Paul Fonua, Chairperson of the Tongatapu Secondary Schools Principals Association (TSSPA), Mrs. Seu'ula Fonua, Acting Director of the USP Oceania Institute for Education (OIE) and Cameron Bowles, Regional Director of PLP.
Leadership has a direct correlation with a school's ability to meet the learning and development needs of its students and the aspirations of parents and wider society. Enhancing school leadership is therefore an important strategy for addressing the challenges of access to and quality within education provision in Tonga.
"When we come into positions as principals, we are rarely given the training. So we kind of go through a trial and error period, which is not good for our staff and students and that's why we were requesting this sort of help through the TSSLP," said Dean of Academic Studies at Tupou Tertiary Institute, Reverend Dr ‘Ungatea Fonua Kata.
The TSSLP is aimed at providing support for school principals through a long-term strategy for leadership development, with pre and in-service programs to equip them with the range of skills, competencies, and knowledge needed to be effective in their increasingly complex roles as school leaders.
The Program will focus on supporting principals and their teams in a manner sensitive to the Tongan context. It also recognises that each school and system has unique features, leadership experience, improvement priorities and leadership development needs. In this aspect, mentors will be engaged locally, to provide in-depth, contextualised support for the principals in their various leadership situations.
"Each school leader and leadership team will have different learning needs. The mentors will have a very important role in helping the teams bring out the best in each other," said Mr Bowles.
The program design has been further informed by key lessons from Tongan experience, including the importance of trust and open communication, as well as the clarity of expectations, roles and responsibilities. The TSSLP is the result of a joint collaboration between the Institute of Education-USP (IOE) and PLP with the support of the MEWAC, the TSSPA, the Civil Society Forum of Tonga (CSFT) and AusAID through the Australian High Commission in Tonga.
For more information, contact:
Program Coordinator, Tonga Secondary Schools Leadership Program (TSSLP)
Level 1, Kupu House, Fatafehi Road, Nuku'alofa
P: +676 23042