Hildah Zulu is a School Improvement Coordinator, based in Zambia. Here she shares highlights of her work at PEAS and her thoughts on how education can support development to evolve.
What is your role at PEAS?
I work as a School Improvement Coordinator for the Education Department’s Technical for Equitable Education in Zambia (TIEEZ) initiative. I oversee the delivery of support to government and community schools surrounding PEAS schools in order to drive quality improvement, as well as give some direct help to school leaders and devising and developing tools and training to enable high-quality support.
What does a typical day involve?
On a typical day, I start by checking my emails and replying appropriately, as well as noting any tasks that need to be completed. I then prioritise my daily to-do list and hold a quick catch-up meeting with my team members to discuss activities completed and those still pending. I make a few phone calls to selected school leaders to get a sense of how the initiative is progressing and offer support where needed.
What is the best thing about working for PEAS?
Working at PEAS is rewarding since the organisation is values-driven and has a reputation for providing high-quality education to marginalised children. All of the values resonate with me, and I appreciate the fact that they are intertwined. The organisation is made up of brilliant, forward-thinking individuals, which allows me to learn from them. Working for an organisation that values a child’s education and ensures their safety makes me feel tremendously lucky. I’ve become a team member who has a strong connection to the organisation’s strategy and is committed to achieving it.
What are the biggest challenges?
I have not faced any major challenges while working with PEAS. However, working with rural primary schools has presented a number of obstacles, including communication breakdowns and insufficient road networks to efficiently deliver support. Despite the network issues, we were able to develop more efficient and effective means of communication.
What do you hope to achieve in your role over the next year?
I strive to be the best at what I do, and in the coming year, I hope to support Zambia’s education system by adapting PEAS’ tried-and-tested approaches and instruments for delivering high-quality education and improved literacy levels. I want to enhance my project management skills and continue to develop excellent working relationships with partners, as well as take on new challenges and come up with creative solutions. Ultimately, I’d like to take on additional management duties and contribute to the improvement of Zambia’s education system.
What does education mean to you?
Education facilitates learning, or the development of knowledge, skills, attitudes, beliefs, and habits. In terms of knowledge, it is a value addition. It also comprises supporting people with the acquisition of new abilities and encouraging them to reflect on what they have learned.
What is the greatest influence on your career?
I have always been passionate about quality education and development and have worked as a change agent in a variety of fields. I chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education at a university backed up by a certificate in project management, and I am currently seeking a master’s degree in development studies. However, one query that I frequently encounter throughout my interventions is, “How does development evolve?” Finally, it all boils down to obtaining a high-quality education that allows one to gain new skills and knowledge that can then be applied to community problems, resulting in growth. I believe in providing young people with a voice and encouraging them to take on future challenges. To do this, young people must be protected from harm and receive a solid education. Education and development are inextricably linked.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I have received is to integrate my passion with my mission at all times. “Finding contentment in whatever you accomplish in life will be easier if you can integrate your passion with your mission,” my previous supervisor often suggested. When work begins to feel like work, examine whether you’re still on track with your life’s mission.