Barbara Njapha

Durban - IN 2009 a programme was established to empower principals at under-performing schools across the province in an effort to improve the overall education outcomes.

It had the full support of then education MEC, Senzo Mchunu.

The Principal Management Development Programme – implemented by Performance Solutions Africa in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the KZN Department of Education – was piloted at 50 schools in three districts in the province.

The nine month part-time course, which does not impact on school time, showed such success that it was extended to this year, with just under 2 000 KZN principals benefiting from the training.

It has since been taken to Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, where it is proving just as successful.

Managing director of PSA, Barbara Njapha, told the Daily News last week that Mchunu wanted to provide support to secondary schools who, in the main, were achieving under 60 percent Grade 12 pass rates, and some primary schools not doing well in the Annual National Assessments.

The programme is divided into six modules:

* Direction and planning - the vision for the school.

* Curriculum management - how to track what is being taught and assessed.

* People management - supporting the staff.

* School governance - codes of conduct and school governing bodies.

* Financial management.

* Resource acquisition and management - procuring books and managing assets.

Njapha said curriculum management and financial planning were critical aspects often being neglected or overlooked at schools.

“School principals can’t afford to find out in the third term that what was supposed to have been taught in the first term was not taught. By then it’s too late.”

The programme also equips principals, many of whom have limited knowledge of financial management, with practical tools to ensure the school remains financially sound.

“The workshop sessions are led by two coaches and attended by 20 principals at a time,” said Njapha. All coaches were former principals; vice-principals or department heads.

“Once the module is finished, coaches visit the schools a week later to see how the training is being implemented.”

Although changes take time to reflect in results, Njapha said the high schools that had gone through the training had, overall, exceeded the provincial average in matric results year-on-year since 2009.

In 2009, the schools’ results improved by 12.3 percent whereas the KZN average was a 3.5 percent improvement and in 2010 the schools improved by 15.1 percent as opposed to the 9 percent KZN improvement.

Schools that participated in the 2011/2012 programme went up in 2011 by 5.9 percent, whereas the KZN average went down by 2.6 percent and in 2012 the same schools improved a further 6.2 percent , still higher than KZN’s 2.4 percent im-provement.

Funded jointly by the KZN Department of Education and private sector donations, this is the last year the programme will run in the provionce.

This year’s private sector funding is from the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund and Old Mutual.

“What we discovered is that principals rely on their management teams, so a number of department heads have also been trained in the programme recently,”said Njapha.

“They are a critical go-between for the principal and teachers, so through them the word travels faster.

“Every workshop is also attended by the circuit managers. They supervise the schools and know how to monitor and motivate the schools towards better performance.

“The district co-ordinators, who are the training officials for the department, also attend the workshops so can continue with the training at other schools,” she said.

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Daily News