Partnership in Focus: Partners for Possibility - South Africa


Partners for Possibility (PfP) is a nation building and leadership development process where business leaders and school principals are partnered in a year-long partnership. Recently Louise Van Rhyn, the CEO and Founder of Symphonia for South Africa made contact with me share the story of PfP.

Despite South Africa’s status as a middle - income country, its education system is challenged. The World Economic Forum rank’s South Africa 146th out of 148 countries for educational quality and last in Maths and Science education. Even with increased government spending in education, the education system faces persistent challenges in terms of quality and effectiveness or learning and teaching at all levels.

With more than 20,000 schools in South Africa categorised as ‘failing schools’, the cost of illiteracy is estimated to be $550 billion rand per year, with 78% of grade 4 children not able to read in any language. In these failing schools teachers have often been promoted to the role of principal without the knowledge and skills to lead the organisation and with very little support from other citizens and parents.

Since 2010 Symphonia for South Africa has been supporting and developing school principals by partnering business leaders (with skills and knowledge of leading change) with school principals in co-action and co-learning Partnerships for Possibility across the country 

Partners for Possibility is a leadership and principal support process that:

o  Equips principals with skills and knowledge to lead change and to mobilise the communities around the school

o  Provides practical hands-on support to principals as they embark on a change journey at their schools

o  Shares what works and engages leaders to replicate proven interventions that leverage all resources 

The partnership approach has been highly effective and it has been able to strengthen leadership capacity in more than 900 schools across South Africa but the need is enormous and they are continually looking at new ways to scale their efforts.

To learn more about the impact of this innovative partnership you can check out this short video below and go to Partners for Possibility

With thanks to Louise Van Rhyn and Partners for Possibility for sharing their story. The content of this article is taken extensively from material supplied to me by Louise. This partnership has gained much support throughout South Africa and won many international awards. It is a true example of the power of cross sector partnering to solve challenging social issues.

Ian DixonComment