Principals take the lead

2020-02-11 06:00
Dr Elanca Shirley, UCT GSB course convenor, is with Abdusamad Ahmed, principal of Spes Bona High, and Gerrie Fourie, CEO of Capitec Bank.

Dr Elanca Shirley, UCT GSB course convenor, is with Abdusamad Ahmed, principal of Spes Bona High, and Gerrie Fourie, CEO of Capitec Bank.

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Abdusamad Ahmed, acting principal at Spes Bona High School in Athlone, was one of 18 principals from the Western Cape who received their certificates for the completion of their studies at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) at a ceremony held at the V&A Waterfront on Tuesday 28 January.

Ahmed said the programme’s focus on systems thinking was especially valuable.

“This has to be your first priority and then you have to consistently follow-up and ensure it is implemented,” he said, commenting the pass rate at his school had improved from 57.5% in 2017 to 80% at the end of 2018.

The course, aimed at school leaders, focuses on financial management, systems thinking and personal mastery. It is offered by GSB in association with the Principals Academy Trust, the Capitec Foundation and other partners.

Bank’s chief executive officer (CEO) Gerrie Fourie was a guest speaker at the event. He said the course provides support to principals in under-resourced areas. “School principals are at the centre of driving quality education, particularly maths and science. By impacting leadership, we can impact the entire school,” he said.

The other principals were Natasha Pather of Alpine Primary in Mitchell’s Plain, Bongani Macikama of Dunoon Primary in Dunoon, Searle Benjamin of Emil Weder High in Genadendal, Keith Meyer (acting) of Fairview Primary in Grassy Park, Tanya van Graan of Highlands Primary in Mitchell’s Plain, Thabo Mokhanya of Hopolang Combined School in Gugulethu, Ntsikelelo Ngcenge (acting) of Intshukumo Secondary School in Gugulethu, Dalene Olivier of La Rochelle Girls’ Primary in Paarl, Lincoln Wildschut of Mount Pleasant Primary in Hermanus, Jeffrey King of Northpine Primary in Brackenfell, Sam Sehloho of Ntwasahlobo Primary in Khayelitsha, Nomsa Mzola (deputy) of Nyameko Primary in Mfuleni, Charlton Williams of Simonsberg Primary in Kraaifontein, Bongani Dwlathi, of Sonwabo Primary in Gugulethu, Zameka Mfubesi of Umveso Wama Apile High in Grabouw, Deon Bougardt at Wavecrest Primary in Mitchell’s Plain and Sonamzi Batandwa of Welwitschia Primary in Delft.

The GSB programme is run at the university during the school holidays, with 16 days of contact time per year.

The Capitec Foundation offers bursaries to principals.

Fourie adds one school principal can have an impact on the lives of up to 1 400 learners in a year.

“Principals in under-resourced areas have tremendous ongoing obstacles to work through, including irregular school fees, crime, a critical lack of resources and lack of teacher training.”

“There’s often a high turnaround of teachers to contend with as well,” said Fourie.

The GSB programme helps with continuous professional development, fostering the self-knowledge needed to finesse intra- and inter-personal relationships. 

“This is crucial to transforming a school into a sustainable entity with a shared long-term vision,” he said.

A key aspect of the GSB programme is ongoing mentorship. 

The Principals Academy Trust provides ongoing mentoring for attendees for three years, on average. 

To date, it has engaged with 203 schools, with more than 200 000 learners in total. 

The foundation has already helped it to expand to the Eastern Cape. 

Fourie aims to further drive the programme’s reach in the coming year, 

“We currently have a number of leadership programmes in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal and we will be expanding this programme to Gauteng this year.” 

He concluded by congratulating this year’s class of graduates.

“School principals manage the curriculum, teachers and drive the performance of the schools they lead. 

“It is, therefore, critical that we look for ways to empower them if we are to impact the education system systematically and sustainably. 

“We congratulate this year’s graduates. You play an instrumental role in the lives of South Africa’s youth and our future.”

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