SA: Twin schools pool resources, encourage social cohesion

In a move to improve learner outcomes and foster social cohesion, the Gauteng Education Department (GDE) has officially launched the twinning of Hoerskool Bastion and Madiba Secondary Schools.

Launched on Wednesday, the Twinning Programme is part of the Gauteng Department of Education’s wider strategic framework and its “Re-organisation of Schools” strategy.

Through the programme, the department pairs suburban and township schools to nurture holistic learner development by creating an environment for cultural exchange through sharing expertise and resources.

The programme also ensures that learners are exposed to peers from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, improve equality of access to high-quality education, and strengthen the quality of education delivered compared to global best practice.

“We are proud of the outcomes witnessed from the first phase of the twinning programme and grateful for the support received from the four pairs of schools, which opted for Section 17GB status during the pilot phase.

“Our greatest respect goes to our first pair of schools, Bovet Primary and Lyndhurst Primary School. We have witnessed improvements and the schools benefited from our partnership with Honeywell, which exposed their teachers to the Aviation world in America,” said GDE MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

Amongst other schools that were paired are Mikateka Primary School (Ivory Park) and Halfway House Primary (Midrand), Unity Secondary (Daveyton) and Wordsworth High School (Benoni).

Alexandra Secondary and Sandown High Schools, Cultura Secondary and Zithobeni Secondary Schools, Reiger Park Secondary and Sunward Park High School were twinned in the first phase of the programme in 2017.

“These pairs of schools have demonstrated that through twinning, the resources can be shared between schools, learners and educators can participate in shared teaching and learning activities, including social cohesion the teaching expertise in the subject content and achieving improved learner performance,” said Lesufi.

The department has also developed an implementation plan to support schools during and after twinning to ensure achievement of potential benefits, such as:

• Cultural exchange as learners integrate;

• Improved cultural awareness;

• Sharing of resources and resultant efficiency gains, and

• Embedding Social responsibility.

The department took the opportunity to dispel the notion that the twinning of schools would result in the more affluent school being disadvantaged.

“It is important to note that, this programme offers opportunities to School Governing Bodies to re-think the opportunities for change embedded in the Twinning, as the future is now to increase private partnership investment to the benefit of our schools,” said MEC Lesufi.

The MEC said the programme has been carefully structured to benefit all of the flagship schools.

He added that the department has prioritized the provision of resources, assistance and support to these schools.

“Ultimately, the programme provides a potential benefit, as opposed to a burden, for the schools, its learners, parents, and the education system as a whole,” said Lesufi.