SEED Educational Trust is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in educational leadership development in South Africa. Essentially, SEED is a non-profit organisation which has been in existence since 2007 and is committed to bringing resilience and organisational health to stressed and challenged schools, so that learner performance is enhanced. To date, SEED has worked with 155 principals, deputies and heads of departments from 45 schools in the Metro East Educational District (MEED) of the Western Cape, as well as 32 managers from the District office. This has been an investment of more than R2 million in leadership empowerment in South Africa's fragile education system.
On 9 October, 22 principals from schools in areas such as Khayelitsha, Macassar, Blue Downs and Kuils River gathered at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) for a certificate function to celebrate 18 months of hard work following the completion of SEED’s 10th School Leadership Programme, sponsored by the Nedbank Foundation. The principals partook in two leadership development workshops, eight coaching sessions and two evaluations of team performance. The programme helped them to better understand the circumstances and context of the communities, schools and educational system within which they work and equipped them to lead in the midst of change, conflict and complex relationships. They learned to understand themselves better and to stay focused and self-differentiated amid of the often challenging situations that they experience on a daily basis. At the function they told their stories of improvement, progress and hope and we were in awe as we listened to their commitment and passion for education and the youth of our country.
Having the certificate function at USB was not incidental in that USB Executive Development, the public executive development company within the USB, is privileged now also to be formally associated with SEED Educational Trust and to look forward to how the partnership with this special organisation will take shape in the years to come. The relationship will especially intensify now that SEED's work is extending to Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. USB-ED will in future support SEED in the areas of programme accreditation and certification, quality assurance and research. The partnership context around SEED is also growing through the financial support of the Nedbank Foundation and Old Mutual’s Ilima Trust.
One can indeed ask the question why a business school would be mindful about leadership development in the school system. For USB-ED the case is clear: it is a societal imperative that we support the institutions that educate the leaders and managers of the future. The young people at school today will in a few years from now be the leaders and managers of the private, public and social sector of society. We simply have to do whatever we can to contribute to setting them up for success. Part of doing that is building the capacity of the system that takes care of their education and personal development.