Creating a Liberating Education through Need-based Leadership

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Bartolome M. Galindo Jr. School Principal II, Jaen National High School

Paulo Freire told in his book, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that education aims to liberate both the oppressed and their oppressors, which are both victims of education’s Banking Approach where the teachers’ role is to deposit concepts to learners’ minds, not by providing them the opportunity to discover learning through asking questions and guided learning. This target will never be achieved if the two essential components of an educational system, the administration, and the teachers, will not meet when it comes to their target. This led to the idea of establishing a community-based education system that is grounded on need-based leadership.

Educational leaders are responsible for organizing the educational system, which is comprised of Its internal, which includes the teachers, the administration, and the learners, and the external, which includes members of the community it serves. As external components change, challenges and needs arise, requiring actions from the internal components. These actions are in the form of curricular updates, co-curricular programs, projects, and activities. These changes are being managed by not just school leaders or the administration but everyone in the school. How these are managed depends upon the target of the school and its curriculum. The tone set by the mission and vision statement guide the entire school organization from policy implementation, program development, and curriculum contextualization. All these magnify how important community-based leadership is in educational management.

A Community-based Educational Leadership

When a school leader considers the community changes and uses them as the basis of their decisions, actions, and programs to be developed, the leader practices community-based leadership. The adjustments done to answer the changes and the increasing needs of the community they serve magnify a more contextualized implementation of various programs created to answer the growing needs of society. These needs and challenges occur because of three reasons: (1) education cannot get away from human resource management, which entails competency and equipment or facilities which they use; (2) as schools are expected to be community-based, cultural diversity which includes inclusivity has become a central issue in all educational system and (3) the gap that exists between the school and the labor market which is one of the pressing issues in the society.

Education and the Human and non-Human Resources

Leaders must acknowledge the importance that human and non-human resources play in strengthening the provision of various educational programs. Teaching and non-teaching personnel play a significant role in instructional delivery and building a school environment responsive to learners’ needs. Similarly, non-human resources such as facilities, equipment, and school funds (salary and other operational expenses) maintain not only the upkeep of the school but also fuel human resources to carry out their responsibilities for the school. Challenges such as (1) availability of funds, (2) availability and accessibility to facilities and equipment, and (3) alignment of teachers’ specialization to subjects being taught impact the quality of educational services being provided to learners. These challenges are also being affected by the community’s economic and political status, i.e., schools in developing countries, such as the Philippines, are challenged by poor funding (Dela Cruz, 2011).

Inclusivity and Equity in Education

The United Nations pushes for a more accessible education that recognizes all societal members. This push translates into an inclusive and equitable education; however, as the population increases and socioeconomic disparity expands, the inclusivity of education is being challenged. This is measured by the number of people encountering economic challenges such as underemployment and unemployment, leading to poverty. These social factors challenge education. Hence it requires programs that can help improve educational access, such as establishing schools in far-flung areas.

An educational system that includes the curriculum and the people who implement it should continue one ground. The changes in society and the community it serves will drive the necessary changes the school has to undergo, like how the curriculum is being reviewed, evaluated, and enhanced through time. This concept should also capture a leadership that acknowledges the changes and needs of the community and those who work for the school—teachers and administrative assistants. This leadership is known as Need-based Leadership.

Studies like Kaipatty, Soegito, Wahyono, & Kardoyo (2020) provide the ground for Need-based Leadership’s role in establishing a liberating education. First, its target is to address both the needs of people in the organization by looking at the result of their performance evaluation, then the need to meet the changes in the community (on a curricular level through contextualization); second, thinking of activities which will help in addressing the needs of the human resources which will further shape their competencies and lastly, establish an environment that promotes freedom. Building such an environment will also reflect teachers’ practices in their respective classrooms.

Need-based leadership is just an initial step toward achieving a liberating education. A leader who sets a vision that is both acceptable to societal changes and liberates society’s worst traditions and another cultural grip that prevents the people from moving forward can build a stronger educational foundation. This is only possible if the two ends of the educational system—the leaders and their teachers will meet and go into consensus about their aim of creating a more liberating environment that includes the acknowledgment of their needs.

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