South Africa: SA School Principals Return Home From China

The 25 South African school principals, who spent two weeks in China on a study initiative, have returned home.

The school managers from all provinces were accompanied by four officials from the Department of Basic Education.

The principals spent 15 days in Shanghai as part of the Department of Basic Education's empowerment initiative for school managers in partnership with the government of China, through the East China Normal University's International Centre for Teacher Education.

The principals had been selected from the leadership of the South African Principals' Association, which is an affiliate of the ICP. The initiative is part of the DBE's commitment to support professional associations in the field of leadership and management, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP).

Professor Peng Liping of the International Centre for Teacher Education said education needs continuous research and exploration, which requires the exchange of ideas and inspiration.

"The seminar on basic education policy and practice for South Africa made it possible for 25 school principals and four officials from the Department of Basic Education to gather together with experts from UNESCO, scholars from ECNU, and fellow principals from secondary and primary schools in China for a mutual discussion and exploration for better solutions to the problems we have been confronted with, and to share knowledge and experiences," Peng said.

Prof Peng said the exchanges would certainly assist in the attainment of the objectives of ensuring inclusive and equitable education and life-long learning for all.

"Your presence in the seminar and visit to Shanghai has also promoted bilateral cooperation between China and South Africa, and the friendship has enhanced and facilitated more opportunities for our partnership for years to come," he said.

The Director for Education Management and Governance Development at DBE, James Ndlebe, said the department needs to expose principals to innovation that can be used to improve school performance, irrespective of rural or suburban setting.

"We talked about discipline, punctuality, respect and the different strategies that can be applied to make schools effective. We were able to identify some other ideas that we can use in our own situations.

"We have seen how to run successful schools using new approaches, how to create and sustain a culture of excellence in a school," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the principals, Dr Motsoeneng said: "The school visits, lectures and the sharing of ideas have made all of us want go back home to make our ordinary schools extraordinary."

The visit to China by the DBE officials and school principals was part of the implementation of a country level agreement entered into between China and South Africa more than six years ago.

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