Educational Leadership in a Crisis

Educational Leadership in a Crisis

At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, 1.4 billion students saw themselves stuck at home as schools around the world closed their doors. No one knew when they could go back to school. Despite this, many school leaders have risen to the challenge and innovated to navigate these uncharted waters.

In this practice-focused webinar series held in September 2020, school leaders from Southeast Asia show how they have led school- and system-wide responses to the educational disruptions caused by COVID-19, while eminent educational leadership academics discuss how you can adapt these strategies and tips to your schools. This practice-focused series aims to share best practices and relevant, actionable strategies and tips with school leaders and educators in the region.


Part 1 | Mobilising Your Community

How have school leaders mobilised resources and engaged with various stakeholders in their scramble to make plans for remote learning? In the first session, we explored how school leaders, as figureheads of their schools and communities, can work with parents and community to create a holistic learning environment in these uncertain times. Watch full webinar.


Part 2 | Nurturing Your Staff

The Industrial Revolution model of schooling and teaching—or factory model schools—is outdated. How can school leaders regard and support teachers not just as cogs in a wheel, but as learning partners? In this session, we looked at what school leaders can do to support, motivate and empower their teachers as they juggle remote teaching with their personal lives. Watch full webinar.


Part 3 | Caring for Your Students

While each school and country have its own unique set of challenges and opportunities, our panellists are united by their unwavering commitment to ensure that essential education services, including mental and social support, are available to all students, especially the disadvantaged. In this final session, we looked at how school leaders can embrace technology to keep track of their students’ learning and well-being. Watch full webinar.


Read the follow-up to the webinar series Unmasked: Educational Leaders in a Crisis. This concise and informative handbook brings together ideas discussed during the webinar series that we hope will inspire school leaders in Southeast Asia, who are all grappling with the challenges of education disruption due to the current crisis.

Capacity building programmes

In collaboration with our partners, The HEAD Foundation designs and delivers capacity building programmes for educationalists in Southeast Asia. These programmes expose participants to the latest research and practice around various aspects of education including; policy making, curriculum design, school leadership, and teacher preparation.

If you are interested to work with The HEAD Foundation to develop and deliver a capacity building programme, or if your institution is keen to participate in a capacity building programme do write to us at info@headfoundation.org.

The HEAD Foundation – Asian Development Bank:
Professional Development Programme 2020 –
Meeting the Challenges of The New Normal in School Education

It started slowly, almost insignificantly. But in a mere few months, what most people thought of at first as a regional infection had evolved into a global nightmare. The COVID-19 pandemic has overturned every aspect of life as we know it, and its impact on global education is arguably one of the most critical. With schools closed and students confined in their homes, the restriction of access to learning has been devastating for children, their parents and schools alike.

The response of educational systems worldwide has exposed blind spots and weaknesses in the face of an unforeseeable emergency such as a pandemic.

How can we reshape school education to make it more robust and resilient?

To create and stimulate dialogue amongst key stakeholders in education, The HEAD Foundation, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, organised an online workshop programme from 5 – 12 October 2020 for 50 participants, including policy-makers, teacher educators and school leaders, from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Kyrgyz Republic and Viet Nam.

The programme started with frank presentations from each country on the educational challenges faced, the exacerbation of these, and new challenges caused by the pandemic, as well as reform initiatives being implemented as part of the solution. These presentations set the context for the programme and informed subsequent sessions, helmed by a well-experienced team of international education experts who trained and moderated discussions in such areas as: the safe reopening of schools, new skills needed by teachers and trainers, flexibility in curriculum and assessment, integration of technology with pedagogy, and initiatives in education reform. Guided by the outcomes of the previous sessions, the programme culminated in professionals from each country jointly discussing and presenting desired education outcomes short- and long-term, and the reform initiatives planned leveraging on the resources and partnerships available in each country context.

The rousing country presentations on the last day marked the programme’s success and reminded us that despite the pandemic’s devastating impact on education, open dialogues between key stakeholders at all levels and an unwavering commitment to reform are imperative to yielding the best learning outcomes for every child.

Download the Programme Booklet

Videos of the expert presentations from the workshop will be made available here soon.

Leadership Development Program for Higher Education Institutions in Southeast Asia

Registration for 2020 has now closed. Click here for more information or check out SEARCA’s website.

Higher education institutions (HEIs) in Southeast Asia face a growing number of challenges, among them the massification, diversification, internationalisation, and marketisation of higher education.

In addition, there are challenges specific to Southeast Asian HEIs including the need to: keep in step with the ASEAN International Mobility of Students initiative; gain recognition through the ASEAN University Rankings system; and prepare themselves for the unique local and regional challenges presented by the ASEAN Economic Community agenda.

As such, HEI leaders must be forward-looking, receptive to innovation and change, and possess strong people leadership and strategic management skills. This would ensure that HEIs are able to leverage their competitive advantage in offering relevant, context-specific learning experiences.

In this regard, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and The HEAD Foundation have co-organised this leadership development programme for administrators, middle and senior managers, and academic leaders of HEIs in Southeast Asia.

This programme provided a platform for higher education leaders in the context of contemporary local and regional challenges. In addition, through environmental scans, design thinking, and strategic management, the programme engages participants in identifying and prioritising some cross-cutting issues that need urgent attention in light of the rapidly changing needs of industry and the workplace. At the end of the programme, participants will prepare a strategic agenda for submission to their own HEI management, which includes action points embodying their take-home lessons on educational and managerial leadership.

The first run of the programme was held from 21 to 25 January 2019 in the Philippines.




Certificate in Educational Studies in Leadership (CESL)

The Certificate in Educational Studies in Leadership (CESL) is a stand-alone 4-month, 4-module programme designed by the University of Queensland in partnership with The HEAD Foundation. CESL is designed to provide K-12 school leaders and senior administrators with a repertoire of knowledge, skills and dispositions that will enable them to be effective, culturally-sensitive and context responsive leaders within their school systems.

The design principles of CESL revolve around three core concepts:
(1) the use of blended strategies for leadership learning that balances online and workshop sessions;
(2) the application of experiential learning through guided school and industry visits built around problem-based learning (PBL) approaches; and
(3) the extensive use of Communities of Practice (COPs) through guided reflection sessions and planned encounters with Critical Friends and Mentors.

Each participant is expected to implement a Transformational Action Project (TAP) in their schools during the duration of the course. The project should incorporate the key concepts learnt during the course and its effectiveness tracked and observed.

Read more about the programme here.




Effective Science Communication: Capacity-building for 2019/20 ASEAN Science and Technology Fellows

Started in 2014, the ASEAN Science and Technology Fellowship is designed to give young scientists the opportunity to work together with policy makers to influence and design national and regional policies through scientific evidence. To effectively utilise the unique opportunities presented by the fellowship, fellows must be equipped with the necessary skills to translate their research and knowledge into digestible and actionable policy recommendations.

The HEAD Foundation is honoured to work with the ASEAN Foundation to develop this bespoke, blended capacity building programme to help the fellows translate their knowledge into lay terms to effectively engage with policy makers to impact policy changes and address civic, economic, and social issues.


Bridging the Gap: The ASEAN Science and Technology Fellowship

The ASEAN Foundation is having their fifth cycle of the ASEAN Science and Technology Fellowship this year to support ASEAN goals and priorities. 17 ASEAN scientists will join sectoral or line ministries or other agencies within their home countries for a year to contribute their knowledge and analytical skills towards science-based policy and decision making.

These fellows are early-career scientists with either a PhD or a Master’s degree with communication, interpersonal and outreach skills and show potential for leadership.

This fellowship aims to foster and institutionalise a culture of science-based policy-making throughout the region and build a regional network that bridges the science-to-policy gap.



The HEAD Foundation, with support from the ASEAN Foundation, has developed a bespoke, blended capacity building programme that will equip the fellows with relevant skills during the duration of their fellowship.


Programme Schedule

1st training session: June 2019 in Bali, Indonesia

The first training session will be held in the last week of June 2019 in Bali, Indonesia. This training session has been scheduled as a back-to-back workshop after the 2019/20 Fellow’s Orientation Workshop and 76th ASEAN Committee of Science, Technology and Innovation Meeting.

Online community of practice

From August to November, each fellow will be required to submit a monthly reflection, based on specific tasks, onto the online learning platform.

2nd training session: December 2019 in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

The second training will be held in December 2019 for the same fellows and an estimated 50 alumni. This second training session help strengthen the fellow’s communication and leadership skills.


Watch this space for updates on the programme.



Regional STEM Symposium

Problems confronting society and citizens are increasingly new, complex and cut across disciplines and knowledge domains. STEM education can help develop a way of thinking and approaching issues in a logical and interdisciplinary manner, as well as equip students with competencies that allow them to identify and solve problems in a responsible and ethical manner.

This Regional STEM Symposium 2019, organised by The HEAD Foundation in partnership with the Asian Development Bank and hosted by King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, was a four-day gathering of educators and education officials from Cambodia, India, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.

The symposium was intended as a platform for experts and participants to present current perspectives on the opportunities and challenges facing STEM education with a particular focus on curriculum integration and teacher professional development, and to critically evaluate the role of STEM education in a broader socio-economic context.

The Regional STEM Symposium 2019 took place from 27 to 30 May 2019 at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi’s Knowledge Exchange for Innovation Center in Bangkok, Thailand. Read more about the programme here.

Read the event coverage here.



Polytechnic Leadership Development Programme (PLDP)

In support of Indonesia’s economic masterplan, the government is committed to developing and expanding its polytechnic sector to produce the technicians and engineers demanded by the economy. Besides increasing investment, the government has developed an agenda to transform the polytechnic sector by expanding institutions and improving the relevance and quality of programmes.

While it is widely recognised that leadership is a critical component of the polytechnic system, at present there is still no systematic leadership and management training designed especially for polytechnic leaders. MORTHE (Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education), PMU (Project Management Unit) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), who initiated the Polytechnic Education Development Project (PEDP) together, agree that an intensive and continuous leadership training programme for polytechnic leaders and future leaders is urgently needed. The HEAD Foundation was approached and had agreed to support the pilot run of a training programme focussing on polytechnic leaders in the middle management level.

The pilot run was conducted for Madhya (Middle) level trainees from 22 polytechnics over two sessions in October and November 2018, in Jakarta. They were facilitated by Dr N Varaprasad and Prof Ashok Kapoor from THF and local trainers appointed by PUSDIKLAT. Trainees were assigned a month-long assignment between the two sessions. The programme brought together polytechnic leaders from all over the country and encouraged them to create a strong bond among themselves.



WB-THF Professional Learning Programme: Enhancing Indonesian  Teacher Education

The Government of Indonesia has made significant progress in improving teacher quality to mitigate concerns over the low quality of student learning outcomes, e.g. via the Professional Pedagogical Training Programme for teachers (Pendidikan Profesi Guru, PPG).

This Professional Learning Programme, designed by the World Bank and The HEAD Foundation, specifically for Mathematics and Science teacher trainers, will critically examine current arrangements in the delivery and effectiveness of the PPG. This seminar draws upon both Indonesian experience and Singaporean perspectives to recommend strategies to strengthen the capacity of Science and Mathematics teacher trainers in Indonesia.

Participants from leading Indonesian teacher training institutions will learn good practices from Singaporean teacher training experts and will visit; the National Institute of Education (NIE) to observe on-the-ground implementation of its teacher educator programmes and Fajar Secondary School to learn about innovative methods of teaching Science and Mathematics.



TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge)

Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, and education is no exception. The rapid rate of technological advancement has left many experienced and talented teachers in the lurch. Others are well-versed with the latest technologies but do not possess the necessary skills to utilise these technologies in the classroom.

Having observed these gaps, The HEAD Foundation, together with experts from the National Institute of Education (Singapore), Ewha Womans University (Korea) and The Chinese University of Hong Kong, has designed and delivered a series of TPACK workshops in Indonesia at Universitas Negeri Jakarta (UNJ) and Universitas Sebelas Maret (UNS).

These workshops focused on several aspects of TPACK namely: an introduction to TPACK; meaningful 21st century learning; adaptation of content and importance of school context; the scaffolded TPACK design model; evaluation of a sample lesson; and designing a lesson based on TPACK.





ADB-THF Professional Learning Programme: Improving Schooling Quality

The Asian Development Bank and The HEAD Foundation conducted this bespoke learning programme over two years for education specialists and policy makers from 11 developing Asian countries. This programme is designed to strengthen capacity among education specialists and policy makers to better implement education reform.

The specific purpose of the programme is to develop the capacity of ADB staff and government officials from the selected countries to:

  1. build relevance in curriculum — alignment with national socio-economic development and the future economy;
  2. consider strategies that improve learning quality and the measurement of learning outcomes — navigating through a plethora of new age pedagogies;
  3. learn from global knowledge and best practices in teacher preparation and what best performing education systems are doing;
  4. shape an understanding of factors that assist or impede reform implementation including programme logic; and
  5. develop approaches to improve reform implementation in their own countries.

By the end of the programme, participants developed a country-specific approach on improving student learning outcomes.

Watch the presentation highlights from the 2016 PLP below.




Improving Schooling Outcomes: Developing Teacher and Teaching Capacities for School Improvement

The last half century has seen dramatic changes in the provision of education in ASEAN. In spite of the many achievements, a ‘learning crisis’ has emerged. More and more children are in school but there is concern over the quantity and quality of learning that occurs. Policy makers are agreed on the urgent need to improve teaching as a profession and teaching quality, improve recruitment and preparation, and pay more attention to leadership preparation.

To help address this issue, The HEAD Foundation has organised the Professional Learning Programme on “Improving Schooling Outcomes: Developing Teacher and Teaching Capacities for School Improvement in Indonesia” to be held at Universitas Negeri Jakarta (UNJ) from 24-26 April 2018.

The three-day seminar is designed to critically examine current arrangements in teacher preparation and leadership development in Indonesia and to explore what changes are required, in a context of radical curriculum reform. This programme will draw upon Indonesian experience and international experts to recommend strategies to strengthen teacher capacity in Indonesia.

28 lecturers and academics from leading Faculties of Education in Indonesia will be participating and listening to talks on:

  • Implementing K-12 Education Reforms: The Role of Curriculum, Teachers and Teaching
  • Challenges and Opportunities for Teachers in Indonesia’s School Sector
  • Ensuring Teaching Quality: Teacher Policies, Initial Teacher Preparation and Professional Development
  • Instructional Leadership: The Key to Improving Learning Outcomes
  • Leadership, Teachers and School Improvement
  • Leveraging Technology Learning for Improving Outcomes
  • Education Reform: Redesigning Teacher Education for High Impact

Watch Universitas Negeri Jakarta’s video below for scenes from the programme.