SHANGHAI - Monday 21 October marks the beginning of the second week of the study tour in China involving 25 school principals from South Africa.
It promises to be another busy week ahead starting with a session at the Chongming Institute of Education in the morning and a visit to a rural primary and secondary school in the Chongming District of Shanghai.
The 25 principals are in Shanghai as part of the Department of Basic Education’s empowerment initiative for school managers in partnership with the government of China through the East China Normal University’s (ECNU) International Centre for Teacher Education.
Dr Peng Liping of the ECNU said that the presence of the school principals from South Africa in China would further promote the bilateral relationship and cooperation between the two countries and the friendship will enhance more opportunities in the future.
“The discussions on topics such as ‘how to be a school principal today, teacher professionalisation and quality assurance shall enable you to better understand what we have learned about China and its basic education and facilitate dialogue and discussions with your counterparts in school in Shanghai. You will also share ideas on how to be better school principals,” said Dr Liping.
The schools principals from South Africa represent all provinces and were selected from primary and secondary schools in rural areas as well as urban regions of the country.
The Deputy Principal of New Forest High in Durban, Linda Shezi, said principals in China set the climate for their schools. “This was evident in every school we have visited. The culture of the school requires the relentless pursuit of the what else factor, the school brand that distinguishes your school from another,” Shezi said.
Shezi was reflecting on the engagement that have taken place since arriving in China a week ago saying that the experience has been enriching.
“To set up and run a values-based school does not require any money, it does however require vision, adaptability, courageous leadership strength and leadership, strength of conviction and an unapologetic pursuit of doing the right thing educationally for children under our care,” Shezi said.
Dr George Motsoeneng, the principal of Embonisweni Primary School in the Free State, said that principals needed to remember that they have a difficult task of developing learners who were going to contribute to the growth of the country.
“The Principal should be a serving leader working to unify thoughts within the school. Curriculum delivery must not be compromised, instead all teachers must work to assist the school to ensure that the learners develop emotionally , intellectually , historically , cultural and that they are patriotic,” said Dr Motsoeneng.
The school principals and the DBE officials will this week also attend the Biennial Conference of International Confederation of Principals from 23 to 25 October in Shanghai. The Director-General of the Department of Basic Education Mathanzima Mweli will address the conference during the three-day programme.
The leader of the delegation James Ndlebe said that the first week had been a busy one and beneficiary to all in attendance. This was echoed by the rest of the principals as they individually gave positive reports on the success of the engagements and the lessons learned.
“The international conference coming up this week will add to an already hectic schedule but it will be extremely beneficial because we will have principals from around the world gathering under one roof to discuss issues affecting them and the work they do. More principals from South Africa together with provincial officials will join the conference when it commences on Wednesday. We hope that all the expsosure will benefit not only the school principals but the schools and communities they represent here. We are grateful for the sponsorship provided by the Chinese government,” he said.
The visit to China by the DBE officials and school principals is part of the implementation of a country level agreement entered into between China and South Africa more than 6 years ago.
Media Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275