From the editor

| March 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Think of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and you will think also of his great love for children and his belief in the transformative power of education.

In this first edition of 2014, we were able to celebrate these passions.

On page 42, Tessa Dowling, our regular columnist based at the University of Cape Town, pays tribute to Mandela through the voices of Xhosa praise poets who rightly remember all aspects of the man, from his height to his humility. Consider, says Dowling, the quiet majesty of these words: Wadibanisile izizwe ezikhulu nezincinane. (You brought huge and small nations together.)

Our newest columnist, Khalil Osiris, has also been deeply affected by Mandela. Sentenced to a prison term in the US, Osiris corresponded with Madiba. On page 44, Osiris recounts an epiphany: “My question was: how was he [Mandela] spending his time in prison? It became clear to me that he was educating himself and using that education to the benefit of others.”

Osiris’s story captures the essence of Mandela’s sacrifice: his own freedom for the freedom of generations to come. Madiba would share our joy at the stories in this edition of the magazine about those who have learned how necessary and fulfilling it is to serve the needs of others. At Woodridge Preparatory School in the Eastern Cape, for example (page 34), deputy headmaster Franzl Bause recounts the lessons that pupils learned by doing for others what they could with what they had – from chopping wood to caring for animals. Says one Woodridge student: “I felt happy and emotional… seeing so many animals that had been beaten and traumatised now happy, healthy and enjoying themselves.”

Animals have captured hearts and minds at other schools too. At non-profit Daktari Bush School not far from the Kruger National Park, Michele Merrifield and her team have woven lessons about wildlife rehabilitation into a formal curriculum for children from surrounding communities (page 54).

And ISASA members Ashton International College Ballito in KwaZulu-Natal and Elkanah House in Cape Town have taken up the fight against rhino poaching. On page 60, Karen Stadler, information technology expert at the latter, recounts how a simple viewing of rhino at a water hole involved her and her students in a global crusade to save these magnificent beasts, and on page 56, you can read how the former joined forces with legendary explorer and philanthropist Kingsley Holgate to raise awareness about poaching.

Philanthropy may be uppermost in many bursars’ minds at the moment. Reports IOL News: “This year is going to be much worse than last year when strikes, widespread job losses and a weakening economy pushed up the cost of essential items, forcing families to cut down on their spending or even take out loans.” Adds investment marketing actuary with a financial services company, Sinenhlanhla Nzama: “If your child is starting Grade R this year, the combined cost (from primary school to university) of education is expected to be R950 800 for public schools and R2 207 000 for private.” In our ‘Conversations’ section on page 30, you can read about research undertaken by Rick Ginsberg and Karen D. Multon, and take heart from what they’ve learned about how American school leaders maintain staff morale to keep organisations on track despite difficult circumstances. There’s also much to be gleaned from the SPARK story (page 18). Says founder Stacey Brewer: “[Our] blended learning model offers a path to strategically reduce costs while enabling a high-quality learning environment.”

And on page 22, Amir Pasic, vice president of international operations at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), reports that: “Independent schools… must communicate to their constituents the way in which philanthropy improves access to education. As private giving to education increases in many places around the world, people often worry that access to educational institutions will be restricted to only wealthy individuals. It is important for schools and their advancement professionals to dispel this mistaken assumption. What ties schools together across the globe is a commitment to scholarships, fellowships and the kind of philanthropy that expands access to education.”

Times may be tough, but ISASA schools continue to teach and learn in new and adventuresome ways, making global and local connections. I’m sure they’re reassured by the knowledge that the new hand on the ISASA helm is steady and strong. Says Lebogang Montjane on page 11, “I inherit a well-run organisation which offers the most comprehensive services of any schools association on the African continent.”

ISASA member school missions are, of course, informed by ‘quality, values and diversity’. Said Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Category: Autumn 2014, Regular Columns

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