RAFI, GSL Extend Partnership to Support Local School Leaders


Since the first lockdown order due to the COVID-19 pandemic over two years ago, schools across the country have finally reopened their classrooms to learners.

Yet as students return to school, School Heads and Teachers are now met with the bigger challenge of supporting learners as they face the effects of the two years spent away from school. School closures and disruptions may have deepened the learning crisis across the globe and sharply increased learning poverty, reports the World Bank through its The State of Global Learning Poverty: 2022 Update.

To support school leaders as they nurture learners and their school communities, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI) and the Global School Leaders (GSL) extended their initial partnership for another three years through signing a memorandum of understanding on March 3, 2023. The three-year partnership aims to equip school leaders with relevant training and assistance on the current educational landscape.


“We are very excited about this partnership. As a global organization, we can have a much larger footprint as we operate in this partnership. Everything that we do, we do this in the service of our children,” said Azad Oommen, CEO of Global School Leaders.

RAFI, through its RAFI Education Development Unit and RAFI Center for Leaders, launched GSL’s Upya program among school leaders and teachers in Cebu. “Upya,” a Kiswahili term for renewal, aims to enable school leaders to lead effectively through a crisis.

The Upya Program contains three modules, these include the School Reopening for School Heads program, focused on equipping and preparing school heads in the safe reopening of schools by sharing best practices; the Technology for Learning and Management for School Heads program, focused on introducing  various learning technologies for synchronous and asynchronous learning to school heads; and the Emergency Remote and Blended Teaching for Teachers program, focused on supporting teachers in their remote and blended teaching journey and supporting them in developing an emergency teaching-learning plan.

RAFI and GSL will build on the impact of Upya and implement a school leader training program that helps improve student learning in Cebu. The organizations will also conduct joint research on the impact of school leadership to highlight the effectiveness of school leader training.

“We feel that this is a meaningful timing for everyone, and working with a lot of partners, we see the impact that we want to bring to the community, which can only happen with these meaningful partnerships,” said Riella Mae Christa Guioguio, Chief Operating Officer of RAFI.


The partnership between the two organizations underscores the critical role of school leaders in ensuring that students receive a high-quality education. Through continued training and support, school leaders can lead their schools effectively, promote student success, and positively impact the lives of more learners in this rapidly changing world.