Deliberate leadership on all levels is necessary to save South African education from collapsing.
This is the message of the academic, political commentator and human rights expert Rhoda Kadalie. She was the keynote speaker at the annual general meeting of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) in Bloemfontein recently.
Kadalie did not beat about the bush in making it clear that education in South Africa, especially at tertiary level, is at the brink of to collapse. “Authoritative leadership is the only thing standing between us and disaster,” said Kadalie. With reference to what she called the “intangible” elements of leadership – those aspects that cannot be quantified – Kadalie made suggestions for the visionary leadership required. “First and foremost, values and respect are now valuable commodities. Instead of talking about it, our leaders have to show our children what values and respect are.”
Kadalie placed a lot of emphasis on teachers’ responsibility to educate children for the future. “Imagine what these children’s lives would look like in 2030 – and prepare them to successful then. This includes technology, but the actual focus should be on sustainable development.”
Against the background of calls for the decolonisation of higher education and recent conflict around the appearance of learners and schools’ code of conduct, Kadalie said South Africans have to learn to harness the power of their uniqueness. “We have to encourage diversity. Our unique history with everything that contributed to it is what enables us to come up with innovative ideas. This enables us to be globally competitive and the education sector should focus on teaching children to use this to their advantage.”
Kadalie congratulated FEDSAS on the organisation’s leadership role in the education sector. “The work that FEDSAS do speaks of innovative thinking. The organisation is ideally placed to influence public opinion.” She also reminded teachers about the responsibility that they carry on their shoulders. “Now more than ever we need teachers that can stand up and lead. All role-planers in the education sector should use their position and authority to lead so that we can prepare our children for the future.”
* Mr Erhard Wolf was re-elected as National Chairperson of FEDSAS at the AGM.