by Tshikululu Social Investments

No silver bullet

Investing in South Africa's education system

Funding and strong leadership is needed
Investing in education

There is an increasing awareness amongst funders and civil society more generally that there is quite simply no ‘silver bullet’ able to solve South Africa’s education crisis. The problem is a complex one, which requires careful consideration if stakeholders are to have any real impact with the limited resources available to them.

An area of investment which has received increasing attention in funding circles of late is that of school leadership, taking into account the school principal, in the first instance, as well as the school management team comprised of heads of department and deputy principals.  It is also valuable to see parents and the School Governing Body as an important part of school leadership as they are essentially the link between the school and the community in which it operates.

Not only is the case for interventions at leadership level strong because, as is the case in any professional environment, people in a new post require training and mentoring to fulfil their roles effectively, but also in a number of ways relating specifically to the education environment.

Strong leadership is vital because any intervention introduced into a school system is unlikely to be successful unless the leadership supports the initiative, and has the capacity to manage it effectively. Talking to implementers of interventions at teacher and learner level, it is constantly reported that one of the main barriers to effective implementation is a weak leadership structure, and limited buy-in and support from school leadership.

Finally, acknowledging that private funders are not an alternative to the Department of Education, but rather that they are in a position to support government policy imperatives in a way that adds value to larger scale programmes, attention should be given to government priority areas. Currently, emphasis on leadership is evident in a number of strategic documents including the DBE Strategic Plan, the Diagnostic Report of the National Planning Commission and the Goals of Schooling 2025.

Although leadership is by no means the only valuable way in which funders can make an impact on the education sector, it is certainly one which should not be ignored, as its scope for valuable impact is great.

Courtesy Tshikululu Social Investments

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