Partners for Possibility - transforming learning, one school at a time

Article by Iain Patton

We aren't going to solve our problems with the thinking which led to them. So if we want a better society and a healthier planet it's time to shake things up a bit.

But what I didn't expect, was to find an absolute earthquake of a solution in a South African township!

Last week I visited 4 township schools in Cape Town and Johannesburg. It was inspiring and uplifting. The Principals of these economically, environmentally and socially challenged schools are in a leadership programme run by the amazing non-profit Partners for Possibility.

Talk of shaking things up, Partners for Possibility is a really creative solution to South Africa's education crisis - it is a co-action, co-learning partnership between School Principals and Business Leaders.

While the goal of the programme is an empowered and energised School Principal, it's the children whose lives are transformed. With a confident and resilient Principal who is now a change leader not only in the school but in the wider community, teachers are inspired and motivated, the management team aligned and cohesive, parents and the neighbouring community caring and engaged. And the children? Exam results rocket, hope takes root and lives are transformed. Result!

For me, the genius of PfP’s approach is that it’s a cross-sector approach and we can all learn from this. The business leader knows little about education leadership and often nothing about township life, so they aren’t coming in to ‘fix’ the Principal. That would not work. Instead, they meet as equals, simply bringing an uncritical offer of partnership to face things together and find new solutions.

What is particularly fascinating is that it’s often the business leaders who come out of the partnership saying that they learnt the most - dealing with complexity, having influence without authority, working with very limited resources, building trust, empathy, conflict resolution, the list goes on. And in the process, they come out as better listeners, trust builders, more inclusive decision makers, active citizens and business people with a new and invaluable understanding of societal challenges - and market opportunities! Actually, I think the business value of their approach is way under-recognised.

This stuff is not taught in business schools. Perhaps it should?

Meet the Partners for Possibility Cape Town team. Just like the Johannesburg team, absolutely awesome!



30 November -1, 00:00