Highlighting the Ta’theer Leadership Development Program in Lebanon

Learning Ecosystems and Leadership February 15, 2021

Qatar Foundation’s WISE ALL-IN Case Studies

Given that school leadership is one of the most important influences on student learning, WISE/ALL-IN’s 2025 strategy, is to focus its research, program support, and advocacy toward supporting school leader development in under-served global contexts. As part of this work, in 2019 WISE ALL-IN supported field-based case studies of school leadership practice and development in five non-OECD countries, including Lebanon, India, Kenya, South Africa, and Morocco. Through these case studies, WISE ALL-IN sought to add to the scarce body of evidence on leadership practices and development within non-OECD countries. While articles describing our research in India, Kenya, South Africa, and Morocco are forth-coming in a special issue of School Leadership & Management, we are pleased to present this working paper spotlighting our analysis of the Ta’theer program in Lebanon via our website. 

Click here to access the full text of the paper or read a summary below.

Spotlighting the Ta’theer Program 

Ta’theer is a Lebanese NGO that seeks to build school leaders’ ability to promote school-wide, distributed leadership by empowering teaching staff through the use of professional learning communities. Ta’theer was founded in 2017 by Ms. Hanadi Jardaly Jotob and is led by a group of seven individuals committed to supporting educational leadership within Lebanon. The program is funded by Ta’theer staff, contributions collected from participating schools and program attendees, and small donations from business and banking organizations.

Ta’theer provides a nine-month, multi-element leadership development program that combines site-based, monthly learning experiences within schools for site-based leadership teams with large, multi-school networking meetings that connect and engage leadership teams across a number of participating schools. The primary program participants include formal school leaders, such as principals, department chairs, and teacher leaders. Throughout the program, participants are trained to form school professional leadership teams (PLTs) that help to develop and support teachers’ professional learning communities (PLCs). While the PLTs lead learning across the school, the PLCs directly impact student outcomes through improved teaching practice. Ta’theer sees school leadership as a crucial lever for promoting improved teaching.

In its work Ta’theer has faced a number of challenges. For example, Lebanese school leaders tend to work more administratively and hierarchically and are less motivated to engage with Ta’theer’s models for instructional and distributed leadership. Maintaining collaboration amongst participating schools has also been a challenge primarily because schools in Lebanon tend to be competitive, meaning that sharing is not necessarily encouraged within the country. Finally, locating funding to support the program has been difficult given the poverty faced by citizens, including educators, living within the Lebanese context.

Key Takeaways from the Case for Leadership Development in Other Non-OECD Contexts

There are important lessons that could be extracted from this case that could prove vital to NGOs seeking to promote collaborative approaches to leadership in similar contexts. For example, Ta’theer has not yet been able to secure funding from the government or other NGOs and philanthropic organizations, so it has formed partnerships with local businesses to help meet funding needs. Ta’theer has also centered its activities around the needs of individual schools by holding program activities at school sites and by engaging schools in analysis of their own data, meaning that schools received intentional support relevant to their own contexts. 

This case also reveals the sorts of challenges that other non-OECD countries may anticipate and consider how to navigate. In particular, the lack of consistent funding for such an initiative can make it challenging to support the activities necessary to involve more schools in the program. The fact that participating schools also are required to pay participation fees could be a barrier for some schools. Other organizations may consider how investment could support program reach, sustainability, and scalability. This is particularly true given that relying upon contributions from program staff and program participants may be a challenge in contexts of poverty. 

Additionally, the Lebanese educational context is not necessarily conducive or receptive to the distributive and collaborative models of leadership that Ta’theer promotes. Without more centralized government support advocating for schools to incorporate collaborative leadership models, it is likely that Ta’theer will have difficulty recruiting program participants. Other organizations might consider how they will encourage participation from school leaders who tend to play an administrative rather than instructional leader role. Organizations could consider how they may help local school settings and broader government bodies to understand the value of leadership team development, particularly as it relates to instructional leadership. Organizations would also do well to consider seeking out partner organizations that could help to identify and maintain relationships with participants, further the reach of development activities, and also provide an infrastructure for communication. 

Are you interested to learn more? Read the full article here.