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Business leaders urged to play their part in improving education in SA

Symphonia for South Africa (SSA) encourages business leaders to contribute to education by joining its Partners for Possibility (PfP) Leadership Development and Principal Support Programme

The PfP programme partners principals of under-resourced schools with experienced business leaders in a 12-month journey of leadership growth in which much of the learning takes place as the partners tackle challenges together in schools. The business leaders benefit from a hands-on experience that is designed to hone their leadership skills too – in a set-up vastly different from their working environments:  a school that is burdened by multiple persistent challenges; some systemic, others unique.

“Most school principals have not been equipped with the skills they need to fulfil a leadership role that is both critically important and extremely challenging. While meeting this need for skills development is a mammoth task, it is not an insurmountable one if the private sector offers its expertise and support. Without skilled leadership, schools cannot provide the quality of education that gives young South Africans the prospect of a bright future,” says Dorcas Dube, Marketing and Communications Manager for SSA.

“Instead of developing an expensive, imported, consultant-led intervention, business leaders, who are well-trained to assume leadership positions, manage changeand are passionate about education are asked to share their knowledge and experience. Leveraging resources from the business sector to benefit schools is truly innovative,” Dube adds.

In post-programme surveys business leaders typically express very high levels of satisfaction with the programme, with many reporting that they have grown as leaders while making a difference, giving back and gaining insights into the challenges that educators and learners face.

After her 12-month PfP journey, senior IT Manager Charmaine Singh said: “I got such immense value from the programme. I had no idea what was going on in schools. When you are closer to the system you see the complexity of the problem.”

Nedbank Executive Head Grant Kelly praised PfP as ‘’much more than an incredibly successful education initiative.

“It is one of the very few true leadership development programmes which focuses on creating higher-order, socially conscious, empathetic and inclusive leaders in both the public and private sectors,” he said.

For Tembi Topham, Spar Group Human Resources Executive, interacting with thechallenges that principals and schools face has been humbling.

“It has been most inspiring to come together with the common purpose of making a difference and an impact in the communities and school.”

Sharna Fernandez, Western Cape Minister of Social Development, credits the PfP programme for her new-found sense of self-awareness.

“There is so much more that I can give to make a difference in education, my business, South Africa and the global stage.”

Within 10 years, the PfP programme has reached over 1,300 schools across all nine of South Africa’s provinces and has touched the lives of over a million learners.

PfP has been endorsed by prominent South African thought leaders including former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, Distinguished Professor of Education at Stellenbosch University, Jonathan Jansenand Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu. The programme has also received local and international accolades for its work in education and leadership development.

Interested business leaders can make contact at Dorcas@Sypmhonia.net. Alternatively, if you know someone who may be interested, please forward our details to them.