KwaMashu school proves that leadership, vision and partnerships is a winning formula for quality education

KwaMashu school proves that leadership, vision and partnerships is a winning formula for quality education
Nkosinathi Ngubane and Taegan Devar

In a country where a lack of quality education intersects with the status of being the world’s most unequal society, business leaders and school principals are teaming up to create change.

The Partners for Possibility programme, developed by Citizen Leader Lab, pairs school principals with business leaders in a 12-month leadership development programme. Through these partnerships, principals gain the skills needed to confidently lead change in their schools, while business leaders hone their own leadership skills within a complex and challenging school environment.

At Bonisanani Senior Primary School in Ntuzuma, KwaMashu, Taegan Devar, an Industrial and Organisational Psychologist and the Managing Director of Durban-based consulting firm PeopleSmart, partnered with principal Nkosinathi Ngubane on the programme.

Bonisanani is a no-fee paying school located in an area known as ‘’the most unsafe area in Durban’’, KwaMashu township. Known for notoriously high murder rates, KwaMashu has been a hotspot for political violence and crime since the early 1990s. These social problems spill over into Bonisanini. Historically, the school has experienced a lack of parental involvement and low teacher and learner morale. Bonisanani also faces a lack of adequate infrastructure and it struggles to implement fundraising activities to supplement the funding received from the Government.

During their year together, Ngubane and Devar devised and articulated Bonisanani’s vision as a first step towards improving the school. “Our new vision gives our school the direction to grow for the next ten years. Having everyone contribute to the vision creates a sense of ownership. All the staff and the parents welcomed it,” Ngubane said.

A proud Devar acknowledged Ngubane for how he facilitated the creation of the school’s vision in a constructive and respectful way. ‘’I haven’t met a group of people, especially in a school setting, who have come up with such a powerful vision. Nkosinathi facilitated this in an inclusive and intentional manner, where all the voices were heard,’’ says Devar.

As Ngubane and Devar’s partnership progressed, the focus shifted to capacitating and strengthening Ngubane’s leadership. In pursuit of creating a ‘’Model-C school in the township’’, Ngubane observed that these schools are often successful due to factors beyond funding. “These schools are not just about money. They have dedicated stakeholders and parents available for their children. It’s not magic. Township schools can also achieve this through the right partnerships,’’ says Ngubane.

The principal credits the Partners for Possibility programme for instilling in him the importance of competent management, mentioning that it is not feasible for public schools to rely solely on the Department of Education for funding. Adopting a ‘’business mindset’’, he believes, ensures schools overcome funding obstacles and operate more efficiently. “Yes, we are a no-fee paying school, but we now run Bonisanani like a business. We are starting to attract resources that other township schools don’t have. This is because we have established networks with more resourced schools nearby. We also wrote sponsorship proposals to paint companies to beautify the library. All of these activities were successful, and Taegen really helped” Ngubane said.

While Bonisanani has made great strides in just one year, Ngubane is eager to take the school ‘’to the next level’’. Emphasising that sustainable change is a long-term commitment, he is confident that it can be achieved. ‘’A lot more work still needs to be done. We can get there if we work together, and with the support of the staff, parents, the community at large, Department officials and of course, Taegen. We will achieve our goals,’’ says Ngubane.

Devar agrees, adding: ‘’My partner thinks big, and his dream to be the best school for his learners is inspiring.’’

If you would like the opportunity to be a part of the Partners for Possibility programme and partner with a principal from an under-resourced school to work together towards addressing the school’s unique challenges, please contact [email protected]

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to grow as a leader – and make a real impact in education.

Let’s work together to create #TheFutureWeWant