From the Junior School head's desk: 20 March 2024


The most recent message from the head’s desk in the Senior School newsletter included the statement that “remarkable things can occur when a community unites.” While Mrs Shiakallis was commenting specifically on the commendable achievements of the girls and staff in the Senior School, I would like to extend her observations to incorporate associations and affiliations that we enjoy beyond our gates and which support and strengthen our efforts on campus.

Last week, Ms King, Mrs Shiakallis and I attended a Southern African Heads of Independent Schools’ Association (SAHISA) meeting hosted by Investec’s philanthropy division. Part of the morning’s programme included an address by Fani Titi (Investec Group Chief Executive) as well as an economic update by investment strategist Chris Holdsworth and a panel discussion on voter education and engagement in the democratic process moderated by Lebogang Montjane, (ISASA Executive Director).

At first glance, what might have looked like a potentially staid line-up turned out not only to make for compelling listening, but also worked on everyone present as an inspiring call to action. School leaders were charged with the responsibility to find practical ways

in their curriculum – not just what we teach, understand, but what we value teaching – to nurture and fortify the connection between education and participation in democratic society.

Fani Titi framed the discussion through his emphatic return to the related concepts of freedom, prosperity and participation while Chris Holdsworth directed our attention to underreported improvements in our economy and held out a promise of some alleviation for the South African consumer in the next few years.

Lebogang Montjane’s practical-minded and plain-speaking panel featured our highly respected colleague, Confidence Dikgole (CEO of the Independent Examinations Board), as well as public figure, writer and academic, Lindiwe Mazibuko, and Mbali Ntuli (founder and CEO of community development initiative, Ground Work Collective). Also contributing to the conversation was David Gosher, a third year LLB student at the University of Witwatersrand.

What emerged from the panel’s wide-ranging and impassioned responses to Lebogang’s prompts was a clear mandate for us all to work at redefining what it means to be a citizen in this country. Lindiwe Mazibuko made the simple but powerful point that the missed opportunities for participation in civic life among South Africans of different ages are largely owing to a lack of education, not access. The shift from seasonal activism to sustained, informed participation is one we need to make, urgently, at our schools.

Shifts like this begin, send out roots, and take hold with initiatives like our Grades 6 and 7 human rights project (driven and devised by Ms Elk and Mrs Howden) and our enrollment in the Think Equal Early Years Programme from Grades 000 to Grade 1 motivated and overseen by our head of Little Saints, Mrs Diana.
“Remarkable things can occur when a community unites.”


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