Introducing New Education District Manager George Baridi
After a long search, Nuru’s Education Program has finally found a District Manager. George Baridi officially began work with Nuru’s Education Team in March of 2013. Baridi has a long history of working in the international education sector with various NGOs and other collaborations with governments. Over the past 10 years, he has worked as a manager and director of education programs in Kenya, Zambia, South Sudan, and done consulting work in Uganda and Tanzania. He also holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Education from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota, a diploma in Project Management from the University of Cambridge, a diploma in Library and Information Science from the University of Nairobi, and pursuing a Master’s in Community Development at Egerton University. We feel very lucky to have George Baridi as a member of our team. He’s been on the job just over a month, and I had the chance to sit down with him and ask him a few questions.
1. What attracted you to working with Nuru?
I looked at the profile of the organization and I saw that they were really committed to working with the community, especially those who are marginalized. I’ve been working with marginalized communities in different places and I wanted to bring my experiences to share with Nuru.
2. In your previous positions with organizations you worked in some very tough places. What did you learn from those experiences?
I worked in countries like South Sudan. It has been experiencing war and neglected for quite some time and there were no structures in place. I helped to keep them updated on education, so they could take over some responsibilities in education within their country and their government. I feel like we achieved our goal by training teachers, making sure children had access to education, and parents were able to see what the value of education was. I hope that they can continue to grow, and it will help the growth of the country.
3. You’ve worked in several different countries, how have those experiences been similar and different.
In South Sudan, we were building structures and putting in new things. In Zambia, the structures were already in place, put there by the government. This is also the case in Kenya and Tanzania. In South Sudan, things were quite different. We borrowed a lot of things like the syllabus and training from Kenya. In Zambia, we were trying to reinforce the capacity of the staff that had already been built.
4. What initially drew you to working in education?
All along, I’ve seen that education is quite a good profession. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in primary school. I thought when I had the education background, I would be able to assist the community in different ways. I don’t think of teaching as a part-time job. It is something we always have to focus on and help empower the community. It helps to develop the community.
5. Why did you decide to work for NGOs and other organizations rather than just teach?
Looking at the work of the NGOs, it’s wide and gives someone a number of experiences and helps you to interact with the community. I wanted to reach out, not just in schools, but also with other community members. I like working with stakeholders in other fields like health, agriculture, and income generating programs. It gives me a wide experience to interact with those sectors.
6. Since you have started working at Nuru, what is your impression of the education program?
With Nuru, I see the education program is something that really is helping to develop literacy in public schools. I see that we can encourage those schools and teachers so that they can use some of the techniques that we use. I am looking forward for our program to keep expanding, so that more pupils in Kuria will be literate, meaning they will be able to read, write, and comprehend.
7. What do you think is the next step for Nuru’s education program?
Scaling and expanding to other divisions is the next step. Also, we are looking forward to see if some of our staff can be integrated in the public schools. We want to increase the number storybooks and textbooks that we can share with the schools. We will be reaching out to other stakeholders and institutions to create partnerships. We also want to encourage the teachers and headteachers to collaborate with the Nuru staff. We also want to reach out to the PTAs (parent teacher associations) and Ministry officials, so that they will be able to understand our programs.
About Jimmy Leak
Education Program Strategic Advisor — Dr. Jimmy Leak has designed and managed early grades literacy programs in East Africa. While completing his Ph.D. in Education and Policy and Social Context at the University of California, Irvine, he was named a 2011-2012 Public Impact Fellow for his research on teachers and early grades student achievement.Read More Stories of Hope