Working closely with all major role players is vital to ensure the school pulls in one direction in accomplishing its vision and objectives, says Ndongeni Zweledinga
When I assumed my duties as a principal at Jersey Farm Primary School in Mthatha, Eastern Cape in 2004, I realised that I had a big task ahead of me. My first objective was to sell my vision to the stakeholders, namely: school management team (SMT), educators, learners, school governing body (SGB) and parents at large. After all, education is a social matter. I believe in teamwork, shared leadership and respecting other views.
I read the school’s mission and vision and after consultation with the stakeholders, we agreed to update and improve them. We collectively launched the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign. All school policies such as school safety, admission policy, code of conduct for learners, curriculum management and the SGB Constitution were made in consultation with all parties.
Teaching and learning remain our focus. We communicate through regular meetings and notices to promote a culture of learning and teaching and to share the vision and mission of the school. To encourage teamwork and attainment of our shared vision we have set up active committees to look into matters such as the curriculum, co-curriculum and extramural activities. We also practise transparency by sharing information on departmental circulars among key role-players. I believe in excellence, hence I impact and influence all the people around me to do their best; I encourage and applaud learners and teachers through awards. I also award SGB members by giving them certificates of participation when they finish their terms.
I believe in networking with the outside world, and this is bearing fruit. For example, through networking, an NGO called Sinani donated 10 computers to our school. The Family and Marriage Society of South Africa is offering pro bono services to the school through a social worker. This enhances learning and teaching because it addresses behavioural challenges faced by both learners and teachers. We are also part of a programme called Care and Support for Teaching and Learning. This programme addresses learners’ and teachers’ problems by examining their backgrounds to discover the root causes of their challenges. It also helps learners obtain their birth certificates and school uniforms. Child welfare has also established a centre at our school to provide psycho-social support to learners and teachers. Learner Support Agent is providing similar support to help improve learner behaviour, attendance and school results.
I believe in capacity building, starting with my educators and myself. I encourage my educators to improve their qualifications in the subjects they teach. I encourage educators and SGB members to attend training workshops. Learners are given leadership roles by being appointed, for instance, as class reps and they also get involved in Peer Education. Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha Campus is also helping by sending social work students to teach life skills at our school.
We raise funds by involving local businesspeople, who contribute generously to our school. Parents volunteer to do their own fundraising initiatives for certain school projects. All of these initiatives require a leader who is transparent and works closely with all the major partners.
I am proud today that our school has such a wonderful infrastructure, including a well-stocked library and a well-equipped computer lab. Our school is used as a moderation centre for Circuit 2 schools. It is also one of the only functioning schools in Mthatha district in terms of curriculum and co-curriculum delivery and extra-mural activities. In a sense our school is a developmental centre that ensures our learners have bright and secure future, and can improve their lives through quality education.
Ndongeni Zweledinga was a finalist in the Excellence in Primary School Leadership category of the National Teaching Awards 2015