Harvard and UJ celebrating the beginning of collaboration
The Soweto campus Conference Centre is where dignitaries from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts go when they are in Johannesburg. A year ago Prof Drew Faust, Harvard’s president, delivered a powerful lecture about the history of South Africa and the reasons that UJ was selected as their partner in Africa. One year later the dean of the Graduate School of Education, Prof Kathleen MCartney, spoke again about the importance of collaborative work to find ways to improve the many troubled school in both the US and South Africa. She emphasized that many of our problems are the same and reminded the audience that of the youth the 50 largest cities in the US only 52% graduate with a high school diploma.
Among other speakers such as Ms Palesa Tyobeka, from the DBE and Prof Ihron Rensburg, the UJ’s vice-chancellor, the consensus was that that education in SA is in a state of disrepair, but that this does not mean we should be cynical. To work with principals and other leaders in districts and in the Education Department is perhaps the best way so far to try to achieve lasting systemic changes.
There are others who share this view and a representative of the social responsibility foundation of JP Morgan addressed the audience, saying why this company is willing to sponsor some of the work. Currently the DBSA (Development Bank of South Africa) and the World Bank are also on board with funding to support the Education Leadership Institute, which is now housed on the Soweto campus.
The other leg of the enterprise is the Principal Network, a multifaceted online presence with interactive web pages, blogs, and facebook discussion groups.The Principal Network forms part of both the Education Leadership Initiative (ELI) and the Education Leadership Institute.The collaboration with Harvard is planned for three years and the ELI and will be a longer programme of education and communication with principals and other education leaders. The progress of the programme will be researched by way of case studies and formal impact evaluation.
See photo gallery