A Gqeberha-born business leader has overcome formidable odds to build an empire that continues to sustainably support education.
Quinton Uren is no stranger to education interventions. Two years ago, Uren’s global automation technology company, Jendamark Automation, developed the cutting-edge, yet affordable Omang ed-tech tablet.
The device, which offers educational resources via a protected digital classroom, made remote learning accessible for scores of learners affected by COVID-19 disruptions.
So, when the opportunity arose to participate in the internationally acclaimed, multi-award winning Partners for Possibility (PfP) programme, Uren leapt at the challenge.
“Jendamark has always had a space in learning systems for operators on assembly lines. However, I joined Partners for Possibility because it was different to any of the education initiatives I had been involved in.
“The PfP programme gave me better insight into the challenges schools actually face on the ground. I wanted to continue to make a difference,’’ said Uren.
Delivered by NPO Symphonia for South Africa, PfP pairs school principals with business leaders in a 12-month leadership programme. Through these partnerships, principals gain the skills needed to confidently lead change and in their schools, while business leaders hone their own leadership skills within a complex and challenging school environment.
Now in its tenth year, the programme features the key elements of professional coaching, world-class training workshops, leadership development exposure in a marginalised South African school and learning and networking opportunities for principals and business leaders.
Uren was partnered with Zamuxolo Mapakati, principal of Newell High in New Brighton, Gqeberha. The partnership developed when teaching and learning were most vulnerable to COVID-related upheavals.
Uren explained that the main objective of the partnership was to foster a culture of teamwork and cohesiveness among the stakeholders of the school. Although he and Mapakati had not overcome the challenges precipitated by the pandemic or even the ones that existed before, Uren believes the collaboration has made progress in mitigating them.
“I feel we have accomplished a sense of community and a culture of teamwork. For the learners, we wanted to lay out the possibilities available in a high tech industry.
“We exposed them to what a digital future for education would look like.’’
Uren’s educational journey makes for an intriguing story on its own, and sheds light on why he is such a passionate proponent of education. Observing his auto mechanic father fix cars, Uren developed a love of mechanics and machinery early on in his life. He also credits his teachers for “igniting within him a curiosity for knowledge”.
In recognition of his tenacity, business acumen and success, Uren was named as finalist in the prestigious All Africa Business Leaders in 2018.
Uren believes that an agile, quality education system is one that acknowledges the individual in a fully supportive digital ecosystem. He, however, laments what he describes as the stagnation of the education system.
“The future I hope to see is a country that is safe and politically stable, with a vibrant economy. I believe in the people of South Africa. We have a natural resilience which is unique to us. This resilience is the capability to adapt, not only to survive, but also to thrive.’’
If you are a socially conscious business leader who would like the opportunity to contribute to education through a partnership with a principal from an under–resourced school contact Dorcas@Symphonia.net or visit www.PfP4SA.org for more information.