Learning and leadership at Al Ghazali College

| August 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Suleman Khan

Al Ghazali College (AGC) was established in Erasmia, Pretoria in 1999, as a community, faith-based school with an initial enrolment of 60 foundation phase learners from diverse backgrounds.

Its current enrolment stands at 239 learners, with an average teacher to class ratio of 1:9 learners. This approach is deliberate: small classes mean more personalised education.

The school’s philosophy is premised on the values of integrity, humility, respect and leadership. The organisational approach strives to:

  • harness the unique talents and needs of individual learners, transforming them into leaders
  • nurture moral and ethical behaviour in the learners, so that they can add value to their own lives and make a difference to society at large
  • operate within an Islamic framework of accountability, responsibility, hard work, compassion, equality and justice
  • view learners, teachers and parents as members of the AGC family
  • encourage our learners to acquire a deep sense of commitment to serve humanity and to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

The school environment is close-knit and, as such, the sense of commitment is quite prevalent. Our learners are active in the local community, where they support charities and humanitarian organisations, both locally and nationally.

Investment in teacher development a top priority

Led by Suleman Khan, an experienced principal with a total of 31 years in education, is a complement of 26 qualified teachers, highly experienced in the various disciplines they teach and recruited from diverse religious, racial and cultural backgrounds by the board of governors. Investment in teacher education, team building and staff development ensures that teachers remain up to date with trends in education, and we strongly believe that one way of achieving quality teaching is by investing in teacher development. Recently, for example, a selection of staff members underwent training in implementing a neuro linguistic programme (NLP)1 at AGC. Another group of 14 teachers participated in an Investment in Excellence programme with the Pacific Institute.2 Teachers at AGC are expected to model the following traits:

  • work collaboratively in support of learning
  • be committed to work with parents and community members to support the personal, academic and leadership growth of every learner
  • encourage learners to think critically and creatively
  • demonstrate behaviour that fosters trust, and open communication to build sound relationships with parents and learners.

Global perspectives

At the heart of being an educator at AGC is understanding the strengths and needs of all learners. Teachers are constantly encouraged to design their planning and instruction to significantly raise the bar of what learners need to learn and know. More importantly, every child who attends AGC must be given hope to realise their dreams. At the same time, a strong work ethic and positive work habits are consistently inculcated in all the learners – with a view to maximising the learners’ tertiary education options. Although the school is underpinned by the Islamic faith, learners are expected to have an understanding of the world beyond their community, province and country to participate effectively in a global society, and to be accepting of different points of view. In addition, character education, critical thinking and leadership development are core factors that make AGC a school of choice for many parents who are seeking a ‘whole child’ approach to education. The motto of the school – ‘For learning and leadership’ – is the guiding principle on which many decisions and policies are based, and the purpose of the school is to nurture happy learners into leaders.

A focus on learner achievement

To achieve this goal, the normal curricular offerings are extended to include self-leadership camps and programmes, and speech and drama classes. A conscious attempt is also made to foster the skills of elocution and debating in learners.

While the school enjoys adequate resources, every effort is made to ensure that these resources are focused on learner achievement. Within its precinct, for example, the school has a mosque complex that provides the learners, teachers and the broader community with a conference venue, a library, two swimming pools and modern gym facilities for both genders. In addition, the school has a sports complex that incorporates a hall, a lecture theatre and indoor soccer and cricket areas.

The planned phased implementation of a 1:1 iPad programme in the senior phase at AGC in 2016 is an endeavour to create a rich, blended learning environment that we believe would meaningfully improve the learning experience of every child and, at the same time, be responsive to new societal realities. In preparation for the implementation of the iPad programme, teachers have already acquired their devices and are expanding their knowledge and expertise. We believe that the world is rapidly changing, and to remain relevant we cannot teach our children the way we were taught.

Proudly part of ISASA

Joining ISASA was a carefully considered decision. Based on our outward-looking approach, we believe that effective networks could be created by attending conferences and governors’ workshops.

AGC has much to celebrate. The school has enjoyed considerable academic success over the years, with a 100% pass rate being the norm. Almost 98% of learners who qualify to enter university successfully complete their undergraduate studies.

References:

1. See, for example: http://www.nlpu.com/NewDesign/NLPU_WhatIsNLP.html.
2. See, for example: http://www.pacificinstitute.co.uk/solutions/investment-inexcellence/.

Category: Spring 2015

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