How Common Good is Responding to Education in South AfricaDave de Korte
Nelson Mandela believed that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This, together with seeing the need for systemic change in the Education sector, is what fuels Common Good’s response to the Education crisis in our nation. Our view is broader than a single classroom and longer than a single year, as we see the long-term trajectory-changing potential of giving learners access to high-quality education regardless of their socioeconomic status.
Common Good’s Education Team is a School Operating Partner (SOP) working in the Collaboration School Project with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). Legislation was passed in the Western Cape which has created a powerful hybrid model for private funders and government to jointly tackle and improve learner outcomes for no-fee public schools. We started in 2016 at the beginning of the Collaboration Schools Pilot project and have emerged 5 years later having learnt many lessons. In the process we have also refined our theory of change, and are now ready to scale up our programme by taking on two more schools.
Common Good currently partners with three schools: Boundary Primary School (BPS) and Disa Primary School (DPS) in Bonteheuwel, and Silikamva High School (SHS) in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay. These schools are ‘home’ to over 1800 learners, 108 educators and support staff, and three caring and motivated School Management Teams (SMTs). Our plan is to add an additional two schools to our network in 2022.
Our offering to schools focuses on the biggest challenges and constraints that stand in the way of school improvement in no-fee schools. We prioritise the key drivers of school improvement and leverage collaboration school legislation to create an enabling environment for change. Working with schools and school leaders who are vision- and mission-aligned, we are committed to driving change.
We do this by strengthening operational leadership and creating an enabling environment for change, which allows for the development of instructional leadership, that drives the development of rigorous teaching, all resulting in improved learner outcomes. All this is located within a strong monitoring and evaluation framework, allowing for data-driven decisions as a SOP and within our schools.
We support schools in creating and implementing change through their School Improvement Plans (SIPs) which target the highest-leverage activities to see whole-school change. And we provide the necessary support, challenge and accountability to see the SIP objectives become a reality – driving school improvement through the existing leadership structures of the school.