Sr. Augustina Thokoa, SNJM, is the current Administrator of Mazenod High School in Maseru, Lesotho. She graduated from ASEC’s Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program, Administration Track, in 2018. She received her leadership position while she was in the SLDI program. As of 2020, this is her third year leading the school.
In her role, one of the first changes she implemented was in the financial management of the school. Sr. Augustina learned that the school faced significant financial difficulties, especially regarding the boarding facility for the girls. Through a needs assessment she conducted with teachers, parents, the school board and non-teaching staff, she developed a new financial plan, separating the boarding facility finances from the rest of the school. This change has clarified the financial system and helped the school engage in long-term financial planning.
She also worked to improve the boarding facility, installing a solar power system to reduce electricity consumption and increase available hot water. With the changes she implemented, enrollment for boarding students has increased by 13.
“[SLDI] has helped me a great deal because I couldn't stand in front of different stakeholders and, you know, address them on issues. ASEC gave me the courage and stance to say, ‘Yeah this is what has to be done.’ For that, I’m grateful.”
Enrollment for the entire school increased under her leadership as well. Sr. Augustina developed a computer lab for the school, partnering with a company to obtain 70 computers for student use.
Also the school now offers a feeding program, which is not available through any other area schools. Teachers and staff receive a free lunch as well and are offered opportunities for networking and professional development. These benefits for students and teachers served to stabilize student and staff retention, which has remained consistent throughout her placement.
In addition, providing teachers with necessary educational materials, in combination with a holistic education that prepares students with life skills and a spiritual foundation, has led to improved academic performance and student behavior. Sr. Augustina's approach to leadership, learned through the SLDI program, empowers her to work with transparency and effectively collaborate with stakeholders.
According to the United Nations Chldrens Fund (UNICEF), Lesotho faces challenges in enrollment and retention in secondary schools, as well as a lack of school infrastructure. Sr. Augustina's stewardship and dedication to long-term sustainable solutions helped her make a significant impact in these key areas, benefiting the students, teachers and school community she serves.
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Highlights of Sr. Augustina's Work
- Mazenod High School faced significant financial difficulties, especially regarding the boarding facility for the girls.
- Developed a new financial plan, separating the boarding facility finances from the rest of the school.
- Improved the boarding facility, installing a solar power system to reduce electricity consumption and increase available hot water.
- Enrollment for boarding students has increased by 13 students.
- Developed a computer lab for the school, partnering with a company to obtain 70 computers for student use.
- School now offers a feeding program, which is not available through any other area schools.
- Teachers and staff receive a free lunch as well and are given networking and professional development opportunities.