Home-grown education innovation among international prize winners on Mandela Day

Partners for Possibility has made history by being named one of six winners of the prestigious global World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Awards.

The announcement was made by the creators of the WISE Awards, the Qatar Foundation, on the morning of 17 July 2018 and coincided with centennial Mandela Day celebrations.

‘’We are truly honoured by the acknowledgement of the impact of the Partners for Possibility leadership development and principal support process. We see this as recognition of the power of active citizenship, leadership and cross-sector collaboration,” says Dr Louise van Rhyn, founder of the PfP programme.

Since the 2009 inception of the WISE Awards, WISE adjudicators have evaluated over 3 200 applications from over 150 countries and have awarded 54 prizes to social innovations that address urgent education challenges in countries as far afield as Finland, the USA, Spain, Morocco and India.

This year, the 12 shortlisted projects from eleven countries were selected from a pool of 413 projects and evaluated according to strict criteria, including their transformative impact on individuals and wider society, financial stability, scalability and replicability.

The global judging was followed in May this year by an in-country evaluation. This was done by a team from the WISE Awards who visited PfP to experience the programme first hand and to interview alumni and other key programme stakeholders.

“To be named a finalist is already a very high honour, so we are particularly proud of being named a global winner. It is particularly poignant that this news is released during the week that we are celebrating Mr Mandela’s legacy as he has been an inspiration to all of us,” says Van Rhyn.

Since its inception almost a decade ago, PfP believes it has made significant headway in realising Mr Mandela’s vision of quality education for all children in South Africa.

It is well known that beyond his commitment to education in his formal capacity, Mr Mandela made a concerted effort to encourage the private sector to contribute funds for the establishment of schools, particularly in under-resourced areas.

However, he did not stop there. He envisaged a more systematic approach to enable school and community development.

“Partners for Possibility is informed by a theory of change that acknowledges local, in-school leadership as the most sustainable way to effect the change Mr Mandela envisioned,”  noted Van Rhyn

PfP has also been designed to achieve the key enablers for the transformative National Development Plan (NDP): Active Citizenship, Leadership and a Capable State through cross-sector collaborations between business, government and civil society. The development of these key tenants is necessary in promoting and actualising the values Mr Mandela lived by.

 As an innovative African solution to an African challenge, the PfP programme is an example of the National Development Plan in ‘action’. Through improving the leadership skills of school leaders, which subsequently improves education outcome for learners, PfP addresses the underlying causes of poverty and inequality.  The programme speaks to the core of the NDP – the creation of a decent standard of living for all by 2030.

“The co-action, co-learning leadership development and principal support initiative continue to unite South Africans of all races and classes around the common goal of reducing inequality, encouraging active citizenry and promoting economic growth. This is achieved by focusing on the key capabilities of both the people and the country and activating strong, solution-focused leadership throughout society.

“We hope that the addition of a WISE Award will inspire the Partners for Possibility team to continue to positively impact our education system,’’ adds Van Rhyn.

The other five 2018 WISE Awards winners include the Nigerian Safe Spaces Clubs for Girls, One Village One Pre-School from China, Generation based in the USA, Technology-Based Deaf Education from Pakistan and the Canadian 1001 Nights Life Skills and Citizenship Education Program.


30 November -1, 00:00