Springbok spears possibility partnerships

Working together are, from left, chief executive officer and founder, Louise van Rhyn and Citadels head of philanthropy, Jean de Villiers.

Partners for Possibility and Citadel have engaged with businesses and interested stakeholders to encourage more public participation to assist in a mentoring programme for school staff, especially principals, to help take some of the burden away from schools that face many challenges.

For over a decade, Partners for Possibility, a non-profit organisation, has paired business leaders and school principals to help improve education outcomes and throughout March this year Citadel and Partners for Possibility will host a series of events around South Africa looking at the role individuals, corporations, parents and teachers can play in the education system.

During each event Citadel’s head of philanthropy, former Springbok captain and former SA rugby player of the year in 2008, Jean de Villiers, will examine the role education plays in eradicating poverty and, in turn, helping to address the unemployment rate and skills shortages.

In a discussion that took place at the Citadel Building in Claremont on Monday March 12, Mr De Villiers explained why he is so passionate about helping to uplift education in South Africa.

“Being a rugby player and the captaincy that I had, gave me a platform to do something that I love and also to impact people’s lives from a social point of view. Today along with Partners for Possibility we can help in terms of our education – that is the key from where so many of our problems stem from and if we can sort that out it will be a solution to all of the other issues that we have.”

Melanie Burke, who is the director for Partners for Possibility, described the process that takes place between a school principal and a partner to help uplift a school to enable it to become the centre of the community.

“We take a school principal and business leader and partner them in a year-long development. There is a serious hardcore curriculum attached to this. There are five days of training and other times spent together. So it’s about over 150 hours over a year-long experience. What we do with that is to create the right environment for change to be possible.”

Louise van Rhyn, who is the chief executive officer and founder of Partners for Possibility, said schools that are well-funded would have public participation from external members not on the school’s payroll who assist in information technology, human resources and finance. Underfunded schools on the other hand, might not have the same kind of support in terms of public participation and this is what Partners for Possibility wants to change.

Ms Van Rhyn said they want to take the feeling away from principals who feel isolated when dealing with school challenges.

Keynote speaker, Preston Jongbloed, who provides assistance to Manenberg High School, described how an incident had alerted him to how a programme like that of Partners for Possibility can help principals up against challenging circumstances.

“I was at the office at the school when gang violence erupted, a shot was fired at the middle office and nobody was ducking or diving, only me, that is their norm.

“I think Partners for Possibility has a massive opportunity to engage the private sector and schools and develop leadership opportunities that can enable schools. When you get people from the outside who ask how they can help, just by caring
and showing interest, it goes a long way.”

John Kennedy, Citadel director, said they want passionate people driving change and Jean de Villiers is one of those individuals.

Partners for Possibility relies on funds from business partners and interested stakeholders who are looking to uplift the quality of education in the country.

For details, call 021 913 3507 or email pfp@symphonia.net