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Leadership development programme to empower local principals

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THE FRANCES Baard District business and education communities will soon be able to enjoy the benefits of the internationally recognised and multi-award-winning leadership development programme, Partners for Possibility (PfP).

Brought to the area by education and leadership non-profit Symphonia for South Africa, this South African initiative aims to develop business and school leadership that drives improved education in schools in the country.

The 12-month PfP programme pairs business leaders and principals from under-resourced schools in an effort to capacitate school principals and build their leadership skills. 

The programme offers business leaders a hands-on experience to hone their leadership skills in a set up vastly different from their own day-to-day working lives: a school environment riddled with unique challenges.

In a year that PfP celebrates 10 years of far-reaching impact, it hopes to expand its national footprint to Kimberley.

Symphonia for South Africa’s marketing and communications manager, Dorcas Dube, said on Monday that since its inception, PfP has grown exponentially, with its reach extending to major metropolitan cities as well as remote areas in all nine of South Africa’s provinces.

“By launching a group of new business-education partnerships in Kimberley, we believe that principals from schools in this area will derive great benefit that will ultimately reach the pupils. Of course, the business leaders who join the programme stand to reap many benefits too,’’ said Dube.

She added that most school principals were not equipped with the skills they needed to fulfil a leadership role that was both critically important and extremely challenging. 

“While meeting this crucial need for skills development is a mammoth task, it is not an insurmountable one if the private sector offers its expertise and support. Without skilled leadership, schools cannot provide the quality of education that gives young South African’s the prospect of a bright future as productive members of society and the future workforce of the country.”

Instead of developing an expensive, imported, consultant-led intervention, business leaders, who are well-trained to assume leadership positions, manage change and are passionate about education are asked to share their knowledge and experience.

‘’The private sector, through the PfP programme, has a conduit for social investment. The philanthropic efforts of business in education are not limited to monetary donations – there is an opportunity to channel funds into a sustainable process that strengthens individual leadership skills, builds social capital and provides support in schools.

“Crucially, the process gives principals the confidence, competence and energy to lead change at their schools. They are able to create cohesive teams at school, motivate their teachers and involve parents and community members in school activities,’’ Dube added.

By 2020, over 1 000 000 pupils attended the more than 1 000 schools in which the leadership had been strengthened through PfP. 

“PfP schools enjoy more support for teachers, improved punctuality among teachers and pupils, increased levels of co-operation and innovation within teaching teams, greater involvement by parents in their children’s education, and improved academic performance,” Dube said.

“Support for PfP is a direct investment in meaningful and lasting structural change which creates school environments that are conducive to high-quality teaching and learning.’’

“However, there is a vital element of support that PfP needs to ensure its continued growth and impact. We are calling on corporates and individual business leaders from the Frances Baard district to commit to the programme and contribute to sustainable improvements in South Africa’s education system,‘’ Dube concluded.

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