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Thought leaders debate the significance of ethics in schools


Author: admin posted in PfP Blog on 30 November -1, 00:00

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On 7 August 2018 The Ethics Institute of South Africa (TEI), in conjunction with PfP, hosted a workshop to discuss ethical issues arising in South African schools

As an independent public benefit institute producing original thought leadership, TEI holds the conviction that the years spent at school are among the most crucial for our moral development and that a strong ethical culture is a critical part of the formula at work in well-performing schools.

This formed the basis of the one-day workshop, which sought to explore the notion of ‘schools as moral communities’ and how to make this a reality in South Africa. The in-depth discourse covered themes including: generating leadership commitment to running schools as moral communities, building consensus within school communities around ethical standards, and ensuring that all school stakeholders are both ‘ethically aware’ and motivated to be responsible members of the school as a moral community.

 

 

Twitter insights from attendees of the workshop

 

As far back as 2013, Professor Deon Rossouw, CEO of TEI,indicated that a lack of ethical standards isa lesser known, but vital contributing factorto under-performance in some schools, saying that schools can be transformed when their leaders are successful in introducing a set of shared values. Acceptance of such values and a commitment to practising them creates an environment that generates positive moral development and high-quality education outcomes.

Professor Rossouw, who is currently the Extraordinary Professor in Philosophy at Stellenbosch University, has also previously argued that schools are indeed a microcosm of society and very often become enablers of a dysfunctional society.

However, it is not all doom and gloom according to the Professor, as schools are in a powerful position to become catalysts for a changed society because success by some students can ignite the desire for change in others, while alumni can carry their sound ethical ethos into their adult lives.

Professor Rossouw believes that, ultimately, the solution is to ensure that ethics are ‘lived’ rather than just taught through school curricula. He emphasises that all school constituencies have to be involved in identifying the values, with those who exemplify these co-created values being rewarded and those who do not being censured.

The practice of ethical leadership, based on shared values, is part of the DNA of the PfP programme and the ideas that emanated from this workshop will further inform PfP’s leadership capacity building work.