“Sometimes we look at assessments as corrections, what is right and what is not. We look up to assessing bodies and their knowledge of what is relevant; the assessor decides if we awarded ourselves more than we deserve. It is just as important to consider how we measure success and define standards of best practice, as each community is unique. We have relevant experience that shapes our perceptions about what works.”
Khadija Rama, PLTJ Director
As an independent Kenyan Civil Society Organization self-regulatory initiative, Viwango, is supporting us to improve our standards of practice and performance. The aim is to enable us greater relevance, build competence and sustainability. Unlike an audit, the Viwango capacity assessment visit which lasted 3 days, enabled us to work from an appreciative and strength-based foundation. We were able to discuss ideas for improvement across the different departments of our organisation. This being Viwango’s first visit to Isiolo, there was much to learn about how we work with diverse ethnic groups in such a harsh climate. We shared the common challenges with securing long-term staffing, managing environmental crises and mitigating insecurity and community violence.
Organisational and Leadership Culture
Viwango commended us on our strong organisational and leadership culture which inspires adults and children throughout Isiolo. We use our vision of ‘restoration of human dignity’ to enable us to cultivate a positive attitude towards people and life. This means we provide employment opportunities to people who need a second chance in life. We believe in both the professional and personal development of everyone who works with us. The management team works alongside staff to build on their strengths, learn new skills and develop their leadership qualities. Over the years we have seen teachers grow into administrators, heads of departments, managers, and entrepreneurs. We now plan to increase staff motivation and reinforce stakeholder confidence. We are planning an annual celebration day in recognition of the successes of past pupils, staff and community members.
“I like perspectives given on wide-ranging issues that are not in our day-to-day experience. I’m happy there is room to be flexible, such as having short guiding documents rather than long policies that cannot be read by everyone. It is worth considering that not all Viwango recommendations might work for us. Having the flexibility to work with us to find solutions that we can own and find meaningful is important. The journey may take longer but it’s a worthwhile process.”
Sarah Kruger, Executive Director
Making Policies Accessible and Relevant
We are now developing our knowledge of how to turn policies and frameworks into practical guidelines that feel relevant and accessible to staff and stakeholders. We plan to use participatory methods with staff and beneficiaries to create 5 practical guidelines for regular use. These include areas of Partnerships, Conflict Management, HR management, Equity & discrimination, Ethics and Goals. Bridging the gap between corporate and community models of governance through leadership is always challenging. Working with communities and cultures that have limited literacy and minimal grasp of English language, means that we need to support our staff to work with families in different communities. We are transforming targets into meaningful milestones that capture life changes of our beneficiaries. Especially the stories that describe the impact we have on one single grandmother and an entire village full of children.
“Flexible and understanding, there was agreement and disagreement and all in all we came to an agreement.”
Ruben Okore, Teacher