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From Challenges to Solutions: A School Principal’s Leadership Transformation

Despite the many challenges our country faces, communities across South Africa are brimming with opportunity.

The story of Celia Tseke, the principal of Matlosana Senior Secondary School, is a testament to this and the impact that transformative leadership development can have on the functioning of a school and the lives of its learners.

In the heart of Jouberton, Klerksdorp, Tseke’s leadership transformation began when she embarked on Citizen Leader Lab’s school leadership programme. The award-winning NPO develops and strengthens the capacity of leaders in the private and public sectors. The school leadership programme is a structured 12-month leadership development programme, where principals receive the support and skills needed to lead change and mobilise communities around their schools.

Klerksdorp, a once vibrant mining community, is now often described as a ‘’ghost town’’ because many major mining companies have left the area. This has contributed to gang violence and a 60% youth unemployment rate that continues to plague the town’s residents.

Being a recently appointed principal of a large secondary school in this area came with many challenges for Tseke. A structured, practical leadership development programme was just what she needed to support her new leadership endeavour.

‘’When I heard that Citizen Leader Lab offered a programme that could assist me in my journey of leadership I thought, why not? Being on this programme really did help me to cope with all the challenges of being a newly appointed female principal,’’ said Tseke.

The programme encouraged Tseke to reflect on her own leadership style and how she could be more collaborative and inclusive in her principalship. She says she has begun to wholeheartedly embrace the adage, ‘’Leadership is not a one-man show’’, in her interactions with her co-leaders and colleagues.

‘’I now believe that a team effort is essential in achieving Matlosana’s vision and goals,’’ says Tseke.

The principal also believes that the school leadership programme nurtured her ability to communicate effectively. As a result, she has inspired other key stakeholders to become agents of change in the school.

By using the community building principles she learned on the programme, Tseke says that she was able to actively involve the parents of the Grade 12 learners, which she believes contributed to Matlosana’s much improved 2022 matric pass rate.

‘’I began to realise that communicating with the parents encourages them to really get involved with their children’s schooling. For instance, the Grade 12 parents organised study camps for the learners. They even raised funds to provide the learners a safe place to study, away from all the distractions and disruptions in the township,’’ Tseke mentions.

Although theoretical learning is an integral part of leadership development, Tseke emphasises that Citizen leader Lab’s school leadership programme provided her with opportunities to build lasting relationships with like-minded people from other sectors.

‘’One of my fellow participants is a respected pastor in the community, so I invited him to have a talk with my learners. I also know one of the other participants, a business leader, that I had previously worked with to construct toilets at my school,’’ says Tseke.

Tseke adds: ‘’I believe that every sector has its own set of challenges, but if we can come together, we can find ways to solve these challenges and uplift each other.’’


Calling on Klerksdorp business leaders from all backgrounds:

Your involvement in creating #TheFutureWeWant for Klerksdorp matters. Starting this August, invest in the leadership development of a capable school principal and drive positive change in a school and its community. Polish your own leadership skills and network with like-minded individuals at the same time. Email to secure your spot.