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Partners for Possibility

Rembrandt Primary Rembrandt Primary Career Day at Multotec

Rembrandt Park Primary held a Career Day on 15 October 2012 at Multotec in Johannesburg, as a run-up to the schools official Career Day. The Multotec Group was established more than thirty years ago and its core business is the supply of products and services to the mining, mineral beneficiation and power generation industries.  110 learners, 4 teachers and Principal Elizabeth Seema attended the Career Day. Everyone was given visitor tags, stationery and mineral water on arrival which made the learners feel very important and welcomed by the friendly staff of Multotec.

The session began with a welcome and then presentations by individuals within the company who were involved in various careers such as finance, human resource management, engineers, fitters and turners and many more. The emphasis was that not all of us will end up with a degree, but practical work is vital and is very much in demand in many industries. 
The learners were allowed to ask questions after each presentation. The questions were very thought provoking, intelligent and clarified many details of the various careers on display.  The learners and teaching staff then boarded the bus to view other areas of the company to see aspects of the production capacities that it has. After a lovely lunch they returned to school in time for the final bell of the day and to prepare for the official Career Day to be hosted the next day.
“The children certainly learned a lot and it was good to take them to a company environment, rather than to just tell them about it.” Principal Elizabeth Seema said.
The Principal, staff and learners of Rembrandt Primary School would like to thank everyone at Multotec involved with facilitating this event, especially Bernadette and Thomas and they look forward to a continued relationship with Multotec.
26 February 2013, 14:04

Community of Learning Principals Cape Town: Teacher Support & Well-being (building effective teams)

Thursday, 14th May 2015, saw our third installment of CoLP in Cape Town take place at the University of the Western Cape. Our speakers; Andre Pretorius, George Phipps and Jamaaludeen Khan were ready to express their views on the best way to garner Teacher Support and to enusre Teacher well-being in our school system.

What was interesting about this CoLP was that each speaker addressed the theme from their individual perspective, which was welcomed by ferocious note-taking and nodding heads by the audience of school principals and other education-sector workers in attendance.

Andre Pretorius, principal at Heathfield Primary School, touched on all the training and methodologies he has learned over the years and how this has added to his leadership style today.

30 November -1, 00:00

Learning the Art of Community Building Learning th Art of Community Building review

Change starts with each of us. One conversation at a time.
‘Learning the Art of Community Building, conversations that change the world’ – it had intrigued me enough to take two days off work in order to ‘work’ on aspects on my being as well as my greater global understanding. Under the broad spectrum of ongoing self-improvement, I pursue these types of workshops because no matter what the subject, I always find it enriching, and often enlightening, to be in a shared space of awareness and learning.
A breakfast table of muffins, fruit, juices and more greeted us on arrival. A theme soon to be shared was how essential it is to provide a gesture of food when in an environment of establishing community, and how the offer of food can start to bring people together. Such a simple concept, yet so vital an approach! This was a confirmation how it is often the simple things done beautifully, and with care, that impress and impact on us greatly. 
So the workshop began, two days structured around six conversations, created by six powerful questions. I was reminded again about the art of powerful questions. And I was enamoured all over again by how one seemingly simple yet beautiful, bold question – with adequate space created for it to settle and inspire – can do so much. 
Six big questions inspiring six bold conversations. Four food snack breaks a day (very important don’t forget). Three fabulous facilitators. Two days of time away from the routine world to discuss and engage with fellow South Africans of all ages, cultures and backgrounds. One common purpose. Conversations that change the world.
The words of South Africa’s ultimate education ambassador and ex-MD of the World Bank Mamphele Ramphele still ring through my mind from that video clip on the first day. She said, “Africans have a subject mentality rather than a citizen mentality.”
The concept of active citizenship within the democracy of South Africa, created over 18 years ago, was presented in a subtle yet powerful way. As South Africans we have the world’s best Constitution in place to support the freedom we fought for all those decades ago. Yet here we are ‘waiting for superman’. Waiting for someone else to start something. Waiting for someone else to deliver. We have become consumers. We expect. Instead of creating what we need and want. It is this compulsive materialism which erodes the power of our very own citizenship privilege.
Leadership as a concept was presented as a way of being, an attitude rather than a role or a position. Along with this, principles of self-responsibility were read out like a manifesto of desire and delightful expectation. A manifesto we wanted to aspire to, to uphold, to be our best for ourselves and to respect and honour the best from those around us. To be aware of the stories we tell and how we are in our conversations. The facilitators spoke to the highest within each of us collectively in the 50 strong participant group and they created the space for us and invited us to take part in a shared purpose of experiencing conversations that can make an immense difference.
Many impactful quotes were shared which landed with new meaning in context of the workshop. From Tolstoy’s “Every man wants to change the world, but nobody wants to change themselves!” to one of my renewed favourites from Plato “Be gentle with everyone you meet, for you never know what battles they are fighting.” 
The essence of Symphonia, the NGO behind these Community Building workshops, became clear and resonated within me – a coming together of everyday South Africans to make a difference. Symphonia for South Africa began as a passion project inspired by Ros and Benjamin Zander’s book The Art of Possibility by the now returned expat Louise van Rhyn. The focus of Symphonia for South Africa is on education, with schools being at the heart and centre of the community.
As a recently returned expat myself, I too feel the desire and urgency in Louise’s need to see and make a difference in South Africa.
I also learnt about Symphonia’s Partners for Possibility Programme as I sat amongst a majority of school principals and their ‘partners’, each of whom is an active citizen adding their time, experience and insights to assist our country improve and succeed. One school principal at a time.
As the conversations unfolded, I listened to stories I’d not heard before. I heard how it was from all angles of the rainbow family. I listened with awe and inspiration to some, and with shock and sadness to others. One teacher expressed the challenge of getting parents involved in their children’s homework and development as well the difficulty in getting these parents to attend meetings or join the school’s governing body. He said how most parents in his area merely saw school as a place to leave their kids during the day while they went to work.
It was these intimate nuggets which opened my eyes the widest. It reignited in me that to get the right conversations started all we need is a little bit of courage, and a big bold beautiful, sometimes scary, question and then the safe space to speak, listen and hear others out.
The two days were gently facilitated and tools were provided to take part in and take away the conversations that can build community. From the importance of inviting people to participate (not telling them to do so) to looking at the things we are moaning about and thus what we are subconsciously perpetuating in our disempowering dialogues. We looked at the value of acknowledging the gifts people bring of themselves, and recognising within ourselves our own gifts. The theory of the six conversations is based on the methodology and work of Peter Block who has written three books, Community: The structure of belonging, Flawless Consulting: a guide to getting your expertese used and The Abundant Community.
Peter captures the essence of his work eloquently in saying, “Most sustainable improvements in community occur when citizens discover their own power to act… when they stop waiting for professionals or elected leadership to do something, and decide they can reclaim what they have delegated to others!”
I left the two-day workshop assured and certain of my need to step fully into being an active citizen. I will use my gift of writing to share the sentiments, insights and inspiration of how a few beautifully placed questions along with creating and allowing a safe space and adequate pauses and silences for authentic responses, how we can each and all contribute to uplifting each other, and our communities, our country. One powerful gentle conversation at a time.
Conversations can change the world. 
By Sue Northam
30 November -1, 00:00

PfP Blog Johannesburg PfP Celebratory Evening 2013


PfP Blog Professor Jonathan Jansen Endorses Partners for Possibility


Professor Jonathan Jansen is the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State and the Honorary Professor of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand. Passionate about education and its advancement, Professor Jansen has commended the work of Symphonia for South Africa and its Partners for Possibility initiative which pairs Business Leaders with School Principals in an effort to improve our crippling education system. His endorsement of the Partners for Possibility initiative joins that of Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, Desmond Tutu - Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Professor Brian O'Connel and Jay Naidoo who have all shown their support for Symphonia for South Africa's vision of a quality education for all South African children by 2022.

30 November -1, 00:00

Tlakukani Primary Ntsako adopts Louise

Ntsako (right) and friends

The positive effects of the Partners for Possibility Programme are not only felt by Principals and their Partners, or even just the school staff. It affects the learners too. Sometimes on a very personal level, as the excerpt below, about Louise Brits, Partner for Possibility to Principal, Ruth Mashaba, of Tlakukani Primary School wonderfully illustrates:

30 November -1, 00:00

PfP Blog Working up a sweat for a good cause


The Tour de Office initiative promotes healthy living, at the same time raising awareness and funds for causes in need. Teams from different companies square off in a 5-day biking challenge. This year, Quirk chose Symphonia for South Africa as the recipient of the funds raised and to increase awareness about the Partners for Possibility Programme, a ground-breaking initiative for leadership development for school Principals. Quirk's valiant match-up raised over R35 000. A feat welcomed by Symphonia for South Africa.

Recognised as the Best Digital Agency in South Africa at Financial Mail's AdFocus Awards 2012, Quirk is a “marketing agency born digital” where learning and innovation is making waves in the creative and technological marketing industry.  Between 15 – 19 July, the bodacious bikers from Quirk were allocated 19-minute slots during which they pedalled to support quality education for all children in South Africa.

What transpired was an inspiring competition between Quirk Cape Town and Open Box Software.  The challenge did not take place across tarmacs or biking trails but on stationary exercise bikes, with both teams of resolute bikers committing each push of the peddle to a worthy cause.

30 November -1, 00:00

Mandela Day Appeal Participating Schools


Mandela Day Appeal Partners for Possibility's Mandela Day Appeal

Mandela day is almost upon us and many South Africans will, once again, donate some of their time to honour Nelson Mandela by contributing to the enhancement of our beautiful country.


Just like Mandela, we at Symphonia for South Africa believe we all have a role to play in making our collective future better. To this end, Symphonia for South Africa (SSA) calls on all segments of the population – from the NGO sector to business to government- to work together to improve education, one of South Africa’s most pressing problems.

Through our Partners for Possibility (PfP) initiative, 135 pairs of Principals and Business Leaders have thus far been partnered and together have developed their leadership skills in order to inspire teachers, engage communities, and ultimately better educate OUR learners.

The PfP Programme provides an opportunity for business and community leaders to get involved in a radical innovation to change our education system, while at the same time improving their own leadership skills. It is at the forefront of leading social change within our schools, our communities and within the entire spectrum of Corporate Social Responsibility.

30 November -1, 00:00

Yeoville Community Blog PfP Programme features on FNB billboard


When PfP Jennifer Taylor submitted her Partnership story with Martha Mente, Principal, at Yeoville Community School to the FNB Blog - - she didn't expect to see a billboard promoting Partners for Possibility at the intersection of Sandton and Grayston Drives in Sandton CBD, Johannesburg. 

"After submitting my PfP story, I was contacted by their writer, who interviewed me, wrote the story and posted it on the blog," Jennifer says, "a while later I was asked whether I would like to participate in the next FNB ad campaign, and I of course said yes!"

"My experience has been that the best way to enrol business leaders is to talk to them personally about my experience of the Programme and, where this is not possible, to utilise any and all opportunities for exposure," she adds.

The result: "We partner with principals to help schools run better", a sentence which captures the essence of the PfP programme.The billboard campaign will be followed by a print campaign which will run in national publications.

Well done and thank you to Jennifer for her continued support of the Partners for Possibility initiative.  

30 November -1, 00:00


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