Apartheid's oppressive schooling system is still evident in our education system today. This makes it more difficult for young people living in rural areas to access quality schools, further studies and employment opportunities. This and other factors contribute to an educational climate where success is very much the exception. 1 in 4 students in our communities make it from grade 1 to grade 12. Of those that do, less than 2% graduate high school with a university level pass.
Through Public School Partnerships (PSP), we embrace a collaborative approach to public school innovation by bringing together communities, private sector funders, non-profit “operating partners” and government no-fee schools in order to significantly improve learner outcomes. The PSP movement aims to increase accountability, flexibility and capability within the public system. In 2018, Axium Education was selected as the school operating partner for a four-year Eastern Cape PSP pilot project. This was the first time this approach was piloted in a rural education context in South Africa. We partnered with the Eastern Cape Department of Education, a group of seven funders, the Amajingqi Royal Council, and 8 schools in the region. At the end of 2021, a new SLA was signed with the Province and Funders to renew the pilot and expand to another group of schools in the O.R. Tambo Inland District - near Zithulele.
This year Sea View Senior Primary School became our 9th PSP school and is situated in one of the poor rural areas of Mqanduli at Lower Mpako A/A under Chief Bongisizwe Sigidi. The school was established around 1950 with only one teacher who taught from Grades 1 - 4. Teaching was done in mud huts, built by the community. It wasn’t until 1988 when the government granted five classrooms (roofed with asbestos!). The government later provided the school with four prefabricated classrooms which cater for the senior grades - but overall the infrastructure is in a dire state... Sea View is a senior primary school, which means it has children from Grade R to Grade 7 - about 300 in total.
Axium’s initial focus with the school has been to develop and support the school’s leadership. We have worked with Sea-View’s School Governing Body (SGB), School Management Team (SMT), teachers and parents to redraft the mission, vision and values of the school
“At Sea View SPS we aim to create a safe, caring environment that will produce globally competent, self-motivated learners. As the teachers and parents of the school, we are committed to empowering our learners to develop strong character and purpose, and the skills, knowledge and values needed to contribute to their community and South African society.” - Sea View SPS Vision
We know that this tough work starts with strong leadership who creates excitement around a compelling vision, and it is exciting to see this starting to come together. Vision is not enough though. We have followed this up by crafting a School Improvement Plan that lays out how we will work together to realise this vision. Our School Development Manager, Ms Thoko Mkombe, has worked patiently and collaboratively with the school, as this is new territory for everyone involved. The positive working relationships are bearing fruit in the form of recognisable changes in leadership, teaching and learning, and the school's physical environment. The school’s core values are starting to be practised reliably and realistically. For example, one of the school’s values, “we work as a unified team, sharing successes and unselfishly putting others first”, reflects the good spirit with which the school’s SMT is working with the Axium team.
Five months in, with renewed vision and values, a strong plan to take the school forward, and a committed leadership team, our 9th PSP school is poised to make good on their commitment to learners.