Transformative growth and momentum marked at 1,000 partnerships celebration

The establishment of 1,000 empowering partnerships for possibility between school principals and business leaders across South Africa was celebrated in Johannesburg this May.

Dr Mzukisi Qobo, Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy at Wits Business School,was the keynote speaker at PfP’s 1,000 partnerships celebration held at Rembrandt Primary School on 29 May 2019. The event saw PfP participants and team members, along with representatives from partner organisationsand other education stakeholders, gather to celebrate an important milestone in the life of the PfP programme.

Passionate about education and its advancement, Dr Qobo lauded the PfP programme as innovative, resilient and filled with possibility.

‘I was born in Langa, and then grew up in the township of Khayelitsha. In such places, the schooling system is like a leaking sieve – too many learners fall through the cracks due to the rampant crime, gangsterism and drug abuse. This is why I’m attracted to initiatives like PfP. The programme is “solutionist”-based, rather than a problem-driven answer to the schooling system in areas like Khayelitsha,’ he said.

The distinguished professor went on to talk about the nature and magnitude of the education crisis in South Africa, describing it as a very challenging problem and a real barrier to growth in the country’s economy.

‘Education, as a wicked problem, has no clear solution. Traditional solutions have proved futile. There is often tension between the different stakeholders, and we know that we can’t just throw money at the problem. There is, however, growing recognition that education cannot be solved through governance alone. We are moving away from this dispensation, as we realise that cross-sectoral collaborations work better,’ he said.

Dr Qobo concluded that education cannot be tackled by government alone, at either a micro or macro level and said ‘I encourage everyone to persist in championing the PfP cause,’ adding: ‘the PfP programme is a pioneer of making the concept of shared values concrete and tangible’.

Robyn Whittaker, PfP Stakeholder Engagement Lead, took to the stage to share more about PfP and started by pointing out that the work of the organisation is underpinned by the key tenets of the National Development Plan and inspired by the ‘walk together’ imperative that emerged from the Dinokeng Scenarios project.

Referring to the dream of PfP Founder, Dr Louise van Rhyn, Robyn said: ‘Louise wanted a way to mobilise the active citizenship of South Africa to engage in nation-building and strengthen the fabric of our society. This vision resulted in the birth of PfP. At times, this felt impossible, but today we give thanks to the 1,000 business leaders and principals, and their teams and networks, who have made it possible. PfP is a platform that has identified a common purpose for South Africans. It is our hope for the future, and we believe it is healing our country through its current transition.’

In true PfP style, the presentations were followed by a small group discussion. In groups of 10, each one including funders, business leaders, principals and other key stakeholders, attendees were able to share frank and divergent perspectives on education and the role of business in it, as well as their experiences of the PfP programme.

The celebration event was also an opportunity to unveil PfP’s stunning Madiba mosaic, an artwork in which 1,000 photographs of members of the PfP community have been blended to create the image of a smiling, jubilant Mandela surrounded by children – those members of society whom he cared for so deeply.

Another highlight of the evening was the performance by Rembrandt Primary School’s vibrant Grade 4 choir whose harmonious singing enchanted the audience.

Dr van Rhyn wrapped up the celebratory evening with a strong call to action: she appealed to the audience to do their bit to help grow the PfP programme. ‘We want to reach 2,000 schools by 2020, and we need you to help us find 1,000 more people to say “yes” to this amazing initiative,’ she urged.

A similar celebration event took place on 6 May 2019 in Cape Town where former Public Protector, Professor Thuli Madonsela, delivered a rousing address as keynote speaker.

Watch Professor Thuli Madonsela’s address here:

30 November -1, 00:00