Partnerships between principals and business executives will help improve the quality of leadership in South African schools.
Partnerships for Possibility for South Africa (PfP4SA), an initiative by Symphonia, pairs principals with business executives in order for the two can learn leadership skills from each other.
“We believe successful businesses have good leaders and therefore successful schools should have good leaders,” said Veronica Wantenaar, Master Learning Process Facilitator at PfP4SA, at the 2013 Think!Fest series of lectures.
Wantenaar, who has a background in coaching business leaders, said that the two parties enter into the relationship as equals. This helps to ensure that both the principal and a business executive learn from each other rather than one-way transference of skills. “It is an art of matching business leaders and principals,” she said. “Like a company, a school requires a vision.”
She said that principals have to lead the change that has to happen in schools. “If the school is a unit of change then the principal is a change leader,” said Wantenaar.
For the principal and to the benefit of the school, the partnership helps “establish a cohesive and functioning team of educators at each school”.
One of the challenges in South African education is parents who are disengaged in their children’s education. “It is called the drop-off in Grade 1 and pick-up in Grade 12,” said Wantenaar.
What makes the problem even more complicated is that most of the disengaged parents have not completed schooling themselves and they view education as something that only takes place at school. She said that parents need to be reminded “to take responsible for their role as primary educators”.
The partnership will also help “to facilitate a strong sense of partnership between parents and teachers” and “to mobilise the wider community to actively get involved”, said Wantenaar.
The community of people who live around the school are also important for the safety of school property. Wantenaar explains that it is only when that community takes ownership of the school that the school property is well taken care of.
She said that it was worrying that 60% of learners are dropping out before they get to grade 12.
Click on the following link to listen to her presentation: Veronica Wantenaar