Sharing skills gives principals the edge

Jane Tsharane used to hate dealing with tax matters – after all, she was a school principal and finance was hardly her area of expertise.

But then Tsharane, the principal of Makgatho Primary School in Saulsville, Pretoria, was paired up with the South African Revenue Service’s acting finance boss Bob Head, and grappling with tax became a breeze.

Tsharane was one of the principals who last night shared their experiences of working with Partners for Possibility, a non-profit organisation that’s working to fix public education.

Partners for Possibility, together with author Mandy Collins, launched the book named after the organisation at the Gordon Institute for Business Science in Joburg.

In attendance were Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and motoring business stalwart Brand Pretorius.The book relates how the organisation’s work – which pairs school principals and business leaders – has helped turn around schools’ performance.

The programme started about four years ago, said Louise van Rhyn, the organisation’s founder.

Tsharane and Stoneridge Primary School’s Richard Carelse were among the principals who discussed their involvement with Partners for Possibility.

Finance matters were the most-mentioned aspect. Carelse said the programme had taught him how to budget.Lesufi said there tended to be a top-down approach to education, and that more ordinary South Africans needed to share their skills.

He used school governing bodies as an example. In former Model C schools, he said, “you have a [chartered accountant], a judge, a [human resources] person ...”This was not the case in township schools – and they tended to perform poorly as a result.However, those looking to help would need to tread carefully, as Van Rhyn later cautioned against adopting a school.

“Don’t visit; don’t adopt it,” she said in response to a question from the floor. “Richard doesn’t want to be adopted, he wants to be partnered with.”She pointed out that the leadership development programme benefited both principals and business leaders new way of thinking.

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