South Africa has an education crisis.
The government spends the biggest slice of its budget on education, more than any other African country. And yet the crisis persists. In How to Fix South Africa’s Schools: Lessons From Schools That Work, Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor at the University of the Free State and documentary filmmaker Molly Blank look at South African schools that work, in spite of adverse conditions – hunger, poverty, lack of resources, lack of toilets, and overcrowding in both rural and urban environments – and have drawn out the practical strategies that make them successful.
Some critical strategies they found include: principal leadership; parental involvement; committed teachers; understanding the whole child; a commitment to quantity and quality; motivational activities; setting performance standards and working effectively to meet them; continuous student assessment; and outside partnerships.
The book includes 19 videos that chronicle the stories of these school communities. Every one of these schools has its own story, but all have the same goal – to use the power of education to change people’s lives. While each school has its own narrative, Blank and Jansen show the similar factors that contribute to their success. The students at these schools are resilient. The teachers are dedicated, effective and supportive, they use concrete strategies and get their students to love all subjects.
Finally, principals are committed and effective; they have the visions and capacity to move an entire school community. The book and videos not only illuminate these strategies, but they also present lessons on how to implement them to strengthen quality of education and transform other schools.