Twenty-five South African school principals, who spent two weeks in China to broaden understanding of the work by educational leaders at a global level, have returned home.
They were accompanied by officials from the Department of Basic Education (DBE).
The principals spent 15 days in Shanghai as part of the DBE’s empowerment initiative for school managers in partnership with the government of China.
The principals were selected from the leadership of the South African Principals’ Association, and forms 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.
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.
“The school visits, lectures and the sharing of ideas have made all of us want go back home to make our ordinary schools extraordinary,” said one principal.
The visit to China is part of a agreement between Beijing and Pretoria more than six years ago.