Executive Director at The Toa Nafasi Project

Jamii Opportunities

JF-Expert Member
Feb 10, 2014
As a volunteer nursery school teacher in Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Region in 2007, Sarah Rosenbloom was troubled to see a number of students writing backward or upside-down, in both literacy and numeracy exercises. These students found it difficult to catch on and were hard to correct; their teachers were at a loss as to how to help them.

With extensive research and a network of connections, Sarah developed a simple, yet effective intervention to assist Standard One students with learning difficulties, which is both unique and innovative. She founded The Toa Nafasi Project, a non-governmental organization incorporated in 2012 in the United States and working in Tanzania, to deliver and maintain this intervention.

The Toa Nafasi Project has since evolved into a more complex entity that aims to: 1) support students with learning difficulties by fostering’ hidden talents as well as resolving the challenges they face; 2) hire underemployed local women, train them as tutors, and provide them with opportunities for further professional development. Initiated in one school in 2013, in 2020 Toa currently operates in 11 schools and employs 35 Tanzanians as administrative staff and tutors.

Thus, founded on the notion that each child is an individual with diverse aptitudes and learning styles that must be encouraged, The Toa Nafasi Project addresses the needs of public primary schoolchildren in Tanzania to assess their abilities, cultivate strengths, and resolve weaknesses.

In order to do so, we train formerly disadvantaged local women as tutors, and work with teachers, parents, and the community at large to enrich the classroom experience. The two-fold mission of The Toa Nafasi Project is to elicit creativity and distinction in the classroom and on the playground, and to provide each child and tutor the chance to excel.

The education sector in Tanzania has very limited resources—both human and economic—for students with learning differences, particularly those with needs as subtle and complex as dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia.

Acknowledging this dilemma, the 2009 National Strategy on Inclusive Education called upon non-state actors—non-governmental organizations in particular—to form partnerships with local school systems and government offices in order to facilitate the goals of inclusive education. The Toa Nafasi Project has answered this call through the implementation of our Early Childhood Education Platform, which proceeds as follows:

Assess: Each year, our staff with the permission and cooperation of school administrators, take a census of all the children enrolled in Standard One. We observe each student for social behaviors, adaptive abilities, and motor skills as well as test them for literacy, numeracy, and cognitive skills to get a full picture of each child’s capacities.

Refer: The Project has a referral system of health professionals to treat those students who are assessed as having medical or psychosocial issues. In past years, we have assisted children with adenoid and tonsil surgeries, rehabilitated those suffering from sexual abuse trauma, and treated a multitude of children with complaints ranging from vision and hearing impairment to mild medical conditions. Students with more severe learning challenges are sponsored at the local Gabriella Rehabilitation Centre.

Modify: The Project works with the remaining children who are still struggling through daily tutorial sessions. Because the Tanzanian educational system requires that schoolchildren sit for periodic national examinations, the standard national curriculum must be adhered to. But we do so in a modified context in which the syllabus and/or teaching methodology can be readily adjusted for students with special needs with more time spent on each lesson, one-on-one time with the tutor, and hands-on work.

Train: Toa’s corps of tutors – formerly underemployed local women – receive in-service training throughout the year on simple yet effective pedagogical methods. Our tutors become powerful advocates for students both within the school setting and in the community where disability is often stigmatized. Beyond teaching, Toa provides these women opportunities for professional development, enabling them to become part of the organization’s decision-making and program implementation processes.

Measurement: Toa uses several tools for monitoring project activities and outcomes. We assess each student in the classroom after six months and one year to measure progress. We also hold individual interviews with headmasters and teachers, and conduct surveys and focus groups with the students’ parents/caregivers and village members. Approximately 90% of our Standard One students return to mainstream classrooms and proceed to Standard Two.

The Toa Nafasi Project is currently recruiting a new Executive Director to lead the organization into its next phase of existence. We are seeking a passionate, committed, and creative leader who will ensure that programs are running in a timely and impactful manner, that fundraising is maintained to keep up with growth, that partnerships are formed and deepened, and that all organizational activities are focused towards achieving and expanding our mission to its highest potential.

This person must have a demonstrated ability to manage and inspire others by encouraging team members to do their best work, provide honest feedback, build impactful projects and programs, and have the confidence to work with government actors, partners and communities.

In short, we are looking for someone who will be committed to and has the demonstrated ability to further the twofold mission of the Toa Nafasi Project and who understands the urgent need to work with government actors, partners, and communities to support children with different learning needs and empower women through professional development.

Strategic Planning:
In the first several months, the new Executive Director will work with Toa’s Strategic Consultant, staff, and Board members to develop a strategic plan, which will operate as a road map for the next 5 – 10 years. This will take a large percentage of time during the first few months of the job and will involve the following steps:
  • Reviewing assessments recently completed by the Strategic Consultant regarding Toa’s current capacity;
  • Use a participatory development process to create short and long-term goals to meet Toa’s mission and building on the current program strategies to ensure successful completion of those goals, and;
  • Develop a sustainability plan to meet necessary funding requirements for the new strategies.
Beyond strategic planning, the Executive Director will be responsible for the following:

Managing Staff:

  • Ensure that all employees are delivering high-quality and timely work according to their job descriptions;
  • Create and maintain official work plans with staff in order to track performance and professional development needs;
  • Pursue and provide relevant professional development opportunities;
  • When needed, conduct recruitment activities and fill relevant staffing gaps with the highest ethical standard, in order to meet the goals of the strategic plan;
  • Conduct annual mid-year reviews;
  • Conduct disciplinary measures when needed.
Program Management:
Using the needs assessment and guided by goals in the strategic plan, the Executive Director will:
  • Build up the teacher training/professional development program into a scalable pillar of Toa Nafasi’s programs;
  • Pro-actively pursue strategies needed to continue the implementation the Early Childhood Education Platform in public schools throughout the region and country;
  • Work closely and effectively with government actors in both schools and local administrations to build impactful programs;
  • Ensure that all reports are written and submitted in a professional and timely manner to any necessary parties and filed accordingly;
  • Ensure that monitoring and evaluation are consistently done at a high quality and that lessons learned from evaluations are integrated into program development.
Administrative & Financial Management:
  • Develop and supervise all financial systems;
  • Develop an organizational financial policy and manual;
  • Supervise the creation of budgets (annual and projected budgets, as well as project and proposal budgets);
  • Develop annual budgets for Board approval;
  • Liaise with the US Board of Directors by attending quarterly meetings via conference call to provide programmatic and financial updates, as well as the outcomes of staff and operational reviews;
  • Maintain annual meetings with the Tanzania Advisory board and engage members when needed;
  • Collaborate with the Deputy Director and Accountant, ensuring annual audits and other regular checks and balance systems;
  • Supervising administrative processes, filing, and office management;
  • Ensure that all donor and government reporting is done accurately and on time. (i.e. filing reports with the Tanzanian National NGO Coordination and thoroughly completing funder reports);
  • Supervise all written reports and organizational literature to ensure grammatical accuracy; ensuring that all public written materials representing Toa are accurate and clear;
  • Ensuring that all operational reviews are done fairly and regularly and that learnings are effectively integrated into the organization.
Fundraising, Donor and Relationship Management:
  • Implement the sustainability plan in accordance to the strategic plan to ensure that all new and existing programs are adequately funded and that the organization operates at maximum financial health;
  • Build relationships with current and future donors, foundations, local partners, government agencies and politicians;
  • Work closely with US and TZ Board of Directors to ensure meeting funding benchmarks;
  • Represent Toa Nafasi at conferences, networking or fundraising events;
  • Ensure the continuation of grant application research, submission and reporting.
We are seeking a candidate who:
  • Demonstrates a passion for education, disability rights, women’s rights, and community development;
  • Is creative! This position requires an individual with vision, who can spot both opportunities and weaknesses and is able to steer the organization in the right direction;
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in International Development, Management, or commensurate field of study, or at least five years of experience managing an international development project;
  • Lives locally or is willing to relocate to the area;
  • Has demonstrated experience in nonprofit program management, including:
    • A track record of implementing successful programs in community settings through developing partnerships, closely monitoring program implementation, and tracking program impact through data collection and grant reporting;
    • A history of strategic thinking in the context of program design and project planning and having refined programs over time to improve outcomes;
    • A history of maintaining and growing donor relationships and partnerships with government and private sector actors.
  • Preferred: Experience managing in a school or education program setting;
  • Has experience managing people. It is critical that the person in this position be a strong manager who is able to collaborate effectively with team members, listen and integrate ideas, support staff development but also identify and address weaknesses and issues as they arise. Must demonstrate excellent time management skills and have the capacity to juggle multiple projects and priorities;
  • Has experience with public speaking and is able to publicly represent Toa Nafasi in an inspirational and professional manner;
  • Is computer proficient in Microsoft Windows Suite, especially Word, Excel, and PowerPoint;
  • Is fluent in English and Kiswahili; Must demonstrate strong writing skills in both languages;
  • Has excellent time-management skills; is organized, takes initiative and at all times conducts oneself with integrity, honesty and passion.
How to apply
Please send a one-page cover letter and CV with three references to susan@toanafasi.org before June 12th, with the subject line “Executive Director Application”.

The cover letter should include net salary expectation. You are also welcome to send up to two additional links or attachments that demonstrate your eligibility for this position.

These may include a writing sample (kindly ensure that you are the sole author) or link (for example: a TED Talk or press link for a project you managed). Please provide clear context for any additional links in your email. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for interviews.

Thank you for your interest!

Closing date: 12 June 2020

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