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SA education programme wins global kudos

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A South African social enterprise shared the limelight this month with some of the largest companies in the world when it was named one of the world’s best leadership programmes.

Symphonia for South Africa was selected as one of the top 10 International Leadership Partner and Providers at HR.com’s Leadership 500 Excellence Awards. It received this award for its flagship Partners for Possibility programme, where business leaders and school principals partner, receive training and work together to improve the education prospects of learners at under-resourced schools.

Partners for Possibility was the only South African programme to be recognised in this category.

In reaching the Top 10 list, Partners for Possibility join the ranks of some of the world’s largest companies and most recognised leadership development programmes. Other companies that were named for their contribution to
leadership development in various categories include General Motors, the Florida International University Centre for Leadership, FranklinCovey and Emirates Airlines.

HR.com is thought to be the largest global social networking and resource site for human resource practitioners. Its annual awards have recognised the top global HR, leadership and training providers for the past 30 years. This year their annual LEAD Conference event was attended by HR professionals from across the globe and the keynote speaker was the 42nd President of the US, Bill Clinton.

Partners for Possibility was created in 2010 in an attempt to support school principals of under-resourced schools by partnering them with business leaders. The University of Western Cape endorsed programme is designed to train the business leader and principal in general leadership skills, which they then hone in the dynamic and challenging school environment.

Several large South African organisations, such as Nedbank, BestMed, Sanlam and Exxaro have joined the social movement and have supported or sent their own business leaders on this programme.

“Honing your leadership skills in a dynamic environment where you do not have direct control trumps any leadership training programme that only rely on clinical case studies in a classroom environment,” says Louise van Rhyn, CEO of Symphonia for South Africa. “At the same time these business leaders and school principals help advance education and improve social development.”

Van Rhyn adds that the final winner is primary and secondary school education. Partners for Possibility is active in 279 schools across South Africa and participating schools have reported significant improvements in their Annual National Assessment (ANA) scores, improved teacher, parent and community participation and a new-found enthusiasm for education.

The HR.com recognition award is the most recent award in the long list of accolades for the PfP programme. Last year the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu awarded PfP with the coveted Reconciliation Award – their highest award to any entity that has contributed towards reconciliation in South Africa.

Prior to that PfP received the top award in the Africa category for Innovative and Creative Partnerships from the global International Education and Business Partnership Network (IPN) in Belgium.

Partners for Possibility is active in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Limpopo and is looking more business leaders to join the movement. For more information on the HR.com award or the PfP programme, contact: Louise van Rhyn, CEO of Symphonia for South Africa on 082 449 1414 or louise@symphonia.net or Leo Kok on 082 327 2763 or leo@4pr.co.za.