Transforming a KwaMashu School: Part One

In a country in which a lack of quality education for all learners and our status as the world’s most unequal society intersect, business leaders are teaming up with school principals of under resourced public schools to impact the system and create change.

Taegan Devar, an Industrial and Organisational Psychologist and the Managing Director of Durban-based consulting firm PeopleSmart, dedicated her time and leadership expertise towards making quality education a reality for learners at Bonisanani Senior Primary School in Ntuzuma, KwaMashu. She paired up with the principal of Bonisanani Senior, Nkosinathi Ngubane, on the Partners for Possibility programme.

Developed by Citizen Leader Lab, the programme pairs school principals with business leaders in a 12-month leadership 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.

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. This stems from the increasing number of KwaMashu families living in poverty, the negative effects of violence on the young psyche and a lack of positive role models. Bonisanani also faces a lack of adequate school infrastructure, and the school struggles to implement fundraising activities to supplement the funding received from the Government.

Determined to overcome these challenges, Ngubane and Devar made devising and articulating Bonisanani’s vision their first priority towards improving the school. According to Ngubane, the pair’s first objective was to create a vision of Bonisanani as a ‘’Model-C school in the township, run efficiently – like a business.’’

Ngubane said: ‘’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.’’

Emphasising the shared dream of creating a well-resourced, prominent township school, Ngubane believes that schools in suburbs are successful due to factors beyond funding. ‘’These schools are not just about money. They have dedicated stakeholders and parents are available for their children. It’s not magic. Township schools can also achieve this through the right partnerships,’’ says Ngubane.

Devar expressed her pride at how Ngubane 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.

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

Keep your eyes peeled for Part Two of Transforming a KwaMashu School

Let’s work together to create #TheFutureWeWant!