12600 text messages in three different languages

12600 text messages in three different languages. This is what it took for Bovet Primary School in Johannesburg to ensure that their School Governing Body (SGB) meeting was a successful one, and a success it was!

For a full week in the run-up to the school’s SGB meeting, some 450 parents received SMS messages to their cell phones, encouraging them to attend the meeting and to take up an active role in the education process of their children.

A method which seemed to work because came D-day, parents turned up in heaps and bounds, a first in the history of Bovet Primary School.

“The SMS communication worked really well. We even received replies from parents saying thank you. In the past we could not even achieve a quorum at SGB meetings, but this year so many parents turned-up and indicated that they are willing to stand for nomination,” explains Mavis Khoza, Principal of the school.

The text messages were sent out in three languages including English, Tsonga and Chi Venda.

Mavis is however says all this could not have been possible without the help of her Partner for Possibility, Nic Hughes from Hollard, who generously sponsored the costs of the SMS service.  

“Nic is a true thinking partner! He has had such a positive impact on our school. I am so grateful to Symphonia that has partnered me with such a passionate person. I never thought that an outsider can make such a huge difference at a school. I always thought of the school and corporate world as two separate entities, but now I realise that we are not an island, and that there are people who care about education as much as I do. Being a part of the S@CC programme has been a real eye-opener,” said Mavis.

Mavis realised her old methods of handing out flyers to parents in hope that will attend the meeting was not working and therefore was forced to explore new ways of attracting parents.

“Marketing for previous SGB elections had been done through handing out flyers to learners. This clearly was not working. The school’s data base suggested that majority of the parents had cell phone numbers; it was then when we decided to use text messages as a marketing tool. This resulted in a superb turnout which lead to a robust election with a strong SGB being elected,” said Nic.

He added that though this experience of being a Partner for Possibility to Mavis has been daunting, he is continuously amazed by her dedication to the school and the community.

“I was under the illusions that making big differences quickly would be easy, however I was proved wrong. The experience has opened my eyes to the massive challenges that face the South African education system and more to the very lonely and close to impossible task our Principal’s face on a daily basis.  Her job is far more soul breaking than my corporate job. I am in awe of her.”

30 November -1, 00:00