Partnership gets a second chance

The Oranjekloof Moravian Primary School has agreed to give a school collaboration project it almost bailed out of earlier this year a second chance and work with a new partner organisation.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) started the pilot programme – planned to run for the next five years – to test a new model of schooling that ropes in managerial and training resources from the private sector to support schools in need.

It runs on a non-profit basis with the full agreement of the participating SGB, (“Two schools to test new partnership model”, Sentinel News, November 20, 2015).

Oranjekloof Moravian Primary School is one of five schools – including Silikamva High School, Langa High School, Forest Leadership Academy in Eersterivier and Happy Valley Primary in Blue Downs – that voted to participate in the five-year pilot project in November last year.

But it hit a snag in March this year when rumours started circulating that the school was going to be privatised, school fees charged, admission policies changed and parents left out of decision-making.

Despite guarantees from the WCED that the school would stay a public one with no fees, parents insisted on voting again and were given until Tuesday March 15 to do so.

The voting did not go according to plan and the decision was left in limbo. The situation also saw the school’s initial partner, Mellon Educate, an international volunteer-based charity, withdraw from the programme (“School partner uproar,” Sentinel March 18).

Following detailed explanation from Education MEC, Debbie Schäfer, the misconception about the programme was rectified and parents now have a better understanding of how the pilot programme will benefit the school and their children.

School governing body (SGB) chairman, Nkosinathi Mazele said following negotiations between SGB, teachers and parents, the acceptance of the collaboration school model was agreed to.

He said it was a wonderful opportunity for the school as the standard of education would be greatly improved with the help of the new partner – the Common Good, a Cape Town-based NPO that tackles education, employment and early childhood development.

“Public schools don’t have many resources and the partnership will provide great opportunities for the children as well as the teachers. We look forward to taking the process further and the school to a new level,” he said.

Mr Mazele blamed misinformation for causing the tension earlier in the year. Teachers had feared their jobs might be on the line. He said the school bore no ill feelings towards Mellon Educate as the charity had helped to build classrooms and uplift education. He said the appointment of the new partner was not a requisite from the parents but it would give the school a fresh start.

“New partner, new beginnings,” he said.

WCED spokeswoman Jessica Shelver said the school’s new partner had appointed on Tuesday June 21. Parents would be able to vote, in a general meeting, annually throughout the five year pilot period on whether they wanted the school to stay in the programme or not.

The Common Good’s executive director, Sarah Binos, said the organisation was looking forward to its collaboration with the school.

“As we team together, we hope to create a momentum that will enable every child in the school to access an education that helps them realise their potential.

“We believe our collaboration should result in the development of a learning environment where the leadership, management, teaching staff and most importantly the children of the school will benefit,” she said.