By Raymond Engelbrecht, Network Practitioner

Zola Pahlana, Princiapl of ID Mkhize High School, Gugulethu

What I thought initially:

That our strategy to contribute to the school developing extra-murally towards a community hub will be fruitless or under achieve for the following reasons:

  • When Zola started at ID Mkhize he was required to focus on changing negative / counter-productive aspects of the school culture, therefore paying less attention to extra mural and community hub development initiatives.
  • They were selected to become a Business / Commerce focus school and instructed by their district office to make all other programs secondary in importance.
  • The school became a target of vandals requiring focus and interventions from the school leaders – shifting extra mural and community hub development down the order of priorities.

What I felt:

Initially I felt disappointed as it seemed that EMEP may experience ‘another failure’ in Gugulethu as it did with Gugulethu Comprehensive High years ago. I felt this may give the impression that EMEP’s strategies cannot succeed in township communities like Gugulethu.

This realization became the motivation to intensify focus on the school and work differently, for eg not necessarily through internal extra mural development but through external community partnerships.

Contributing Factors to the Change Process:

  • Inspiration and Envisioning through relationships with service providers and peers
  • Consistent, relevant training
  • Regular Peer Learning processes
  • On site, personal and school support
  • Powerful, reinforcing experiences, eg visiting / engaging with local and overseas examples of community schools
  • Effective strategic partnerships

Current Visible changes and Impact:

  • Zola now believes that ID Mkhize can and should become a community ‘hub’
  • He inspires, envision and mobilizes members of the SGB, SMT and staff to buy-in to the vision and plans to become a community hub
  • He plays lead roles in current initiatives such as the Gugulethu Education Forum, partnerships with community organizations like the Gugulethu Youth Development Forum and hosting The E-Community Project (a ‘Premier Office Pilot’) at ID Mkhize which provides internet access for the surrounding community during after-school hours.