From the editor

| June 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

In an article entitled “Facing the past with an eye to the future” that appeared in the Sunday Times on 28 May 2017, the chair of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) council, Sipho Pityana, wrote about the university’s new Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission.

The commission, Pityana stated, will initiate a “clemency conversation” between students, staff, management, academics and members of various protest groups on campus as a result of the recent #FeesMustFall movement.

The movement that spread quickly to other campuses was sparked by students and their supporters who were, said Pityana, “angered by what they consider to be an alienating and exclusive culture”.

Pityana believes that the commission has “great potential to produce something that could be a benchmark for other institutions in South Africa and even in other countries”.
Likewise, Lebogang Montjane, ISASA’s executive director, wants all member schools to initiate similar conversations, to urgently establish their own kinds of commissions. In his article on page 12 in this edition of Independent Education, Montjane observes:
It is unsurprising… that many of the leaders of the recent tertiary #FeesMustFall movement were sons and daughters at independent schools… these young people have cause to be angry when they see that [at a tertiary level] most of their community are excluded from the processes and experiences which confer benefit on a select few… it is advisable to interrogate existing symbols and systems within our schools and ask ourselves how well they reflect current society, our existing student bodies and our contemporary values.

I believe that Independent Education is a meeting place for schools to share the kinds of conversations they are having at this time in history. On page 32, for example, Ngoni Sagiya outlines the prevailing belief at new ISASA member Bradford Pre-Primary School, in Midrand, Johannesburg in Gauteng, that leadership should be fostered in the youngest of students. Says Sagiya, “Leadership starts when a child learns to handle a loss and moves forward; when a friend wins a game, or when someone else is elected class monitor…Bradford takes a long-lens approach to leader development”.
Other new ISASA members share in this edition how they are rising to the challenges of whatever environments they find themselves in. Two are inner- city schools: CityKidz Pre and Primary School in Mooi Street, Johannesburg, and Streetlight Schools in Jeppestown in the same city.
Education Published by ISASA Publishing
At the former, say Sharon Reynolds and Shelley Corrigan (page 40), where learning happens in the midst of a grey, cramped urban setting, the children call their school a “real school” and not a “building school”, such is its vibrancy. Say the authors, “It would not be unusual that a typical trajectory of an inner-city child may involve crime, violence, substance abuse and eventual unemployment. CityKidz challenges this notion.”

Based a few blocks away at Streetlight Schools that also serves the very young, Heidi Augestad says on page 42, “This article provides insight into the lessons we’ve learned about the trust and responsibility we build upon to create quality schooling, as well as the social strategies that we use to effectively engage with the contexts in which we operate.” This school thrives because it uses the Responsive Classroom approach to help children deal with “social baggage’ made “heavy with exposure and experiences related to the adult world.”
In the heart of the Cape winelands, Bridge House School is also undergoing an exciting transformation that has included a serious consideration of its underlying principles. The result is a move to ever- more relevant kinds of inclusivity. Say Linda Castaldo and Shaun Kirk, “We began to work on a version of curriculum delivery for grades 8 and 9 that allowed more freedom to all parties involved. We wanted to give our students the opportunity to choose the subjects they found most appealing, and we wanted to give our staff the chance to explore content about which they were particularly passionate.”

In perhaps the most exciting article of all in this edition (it’s hard to choose when so much positivity fills our pages), Nicky de Bruyn of the Uplands Outreach team at Uplands Preparatory and College in White River in Mpumalanga, details the marvellous partnership between the Outreach programme and the Mpumalanga Department of Education Insikazi School Circuit Office. It makes me believe that a school with undeniable quality, values and diversity, cares not just about its day-to-day operations, but about the community in which it finds itself. Furthermore, as Bridge House School now states in its revised mission statement, “In a changing world, we deliver a globally relevant education”.

Ask yourself: if a foreign visitor came to your school, would you be in agreement about what constitutes a “globally relevant education”? Then read Kottie Christie-Blick’s article on page 59 entitled “Time to start teaching climate change”. Then, if you will, heed Montjane’s call: “Do not wait to see what others do” and become part of the transformation conversation right now.

Category: Winter 2017

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