Leadership & Board

Vanessa Francis

Country Director, South Africa

Vanessa has over thirty years’ experience in education in South Africa, at all levels. She brings a broad range of experience including strategic planning, education policy development and evaluation, programme management, monitoring and evaluation, and publishing. 

Before Vanessa joined Room to Read in 2014, she consulted for the South African Department of Education, conceptualising, designing, implementing and evaluating educator professional development programmes at provincial and national level. She participated in key curriculum development initiatives, leading the development of the Languages curriculum for the intermediate phase at primary schools. She has extensive experience in the design and delivery of teacher in-service models and led a major education reform project in Gauteng province, the commercial hub of the country, focusing on underperforming schools. She has extensive international experience having contributed to curriculum development, teacher training and materials development for Nepal, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho. She managed on behalf of the South African government, a CIDA-funded public administration capacity-building project in Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

Vanessa holds a Master of Science in Education degree from the University of Rochester, New York. She is an activist committed to social and economic transformation and firmly believes that, through its dedicated staff, Room to Read is an ideal vehicle to contribute meaningfully to alleviating the impact of structural and systemic consequences of poverty and under development, and of long and sustained periods of exploitation and oppression.

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