School Leaders as Agents of Change Towards Equity and Inclusion

Equity and inclusion in education are policy priorities yet many girls and children with disabilities (CWD) are frequently excluded from quality education. This project investigates how an at scale Networked Improvement Community (NIC) approach can be adapted and deployed in two different contexts — Nepal and Pakistan — to develop the capabilities of school leaders to move beyond administrative roles and towards strengthened agency, particularly to identify barriers to equity and inclusion and enact data-driven solutions towards sustainable change in access and learning of girls, CWD and other marginalized learners.

School leaders are essential change agents: to motivate teachers and communities, and to collect evidence, adapt pedagogy and create safe, inclusive conditions for all learners. In this project, school leader NICs aim to engender collaboration and learning from practice-based evidence. NIC members collectively test theories of action about what works and under what conditions to improve equity and inclusion for learners using PDSA cycles (Plan, Do, Study, Act). In this NIC@Scale model, school leaders are supported by local experts and resources from an open course which include proven strategies for addressing equity and inclusion.

Mixed methods research will generate data from NIC members’ school level actions together with interviews, focus groups and course analytics to explore NIC members’ and stakeholders’ experiences of the NIC. Project findings will be relevant across other GPE countries in understanding what, how and to what extent attitudes, practices, structures and resources are key to enabling NICs to flourish at scale in different contexts.

This project is implemented jointly by the Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development (FIT-ED), Kathmandu University in Nepal, and Allama Iqbal Open University in Pakistan. Funding for the project is provided by Global Partnership for Education’s Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (GPE KIX) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).