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Support hubs to prioritise schools' needs

Helderberg schools affiliated to the Strong Schools Community Collaborative (SSCC) have been handed a lifeline to navigate problems arising from the Covid-19 crisis.

The SSCC Support Hubs initiative will provide school leadership with a platform to solve problems collectively by identifying needs and planning how to address them successfully. This, in turn, would lead to more effective learning opportunities for pupils.

“Multiple stakeholders are involved with schools, but often these entities are not aware of one another,” explained Sonja van der Bank of SSCC.

“By ensuring the social investments made by NPOs and individuals are aligned with the school’s strategic priorities, precious time and resources will be saved. The school’s leadership will remain the main driver of the improvement initiatives and the most pressing issues will be solved more quickly thanks to clear priorities and teamwork.”

A typical support hub will comprise the principal as chairperson, coordinator from SSCC, key stakeholder representatives as hub members and a representative from the provincial education department for needed support.

Nomzamo High School was launched as the first self-sustaining SSCC Support Hub last month. The school’s principal and senior management team have been part of SSCC’s school leadership development programme for the last four years.

Principal Chris Mgubanto welcomed the school’s inclusion in the project. “As a quintile 3 school, we face multifaceted challenges that need additional hands and brains to overcome,” he related.

“Through the brainstorming process we identified three challenges and were close to solving one, when disaster struck with the storm last week. We are working on online teaching, but are prohibited by the availability of devices for the learners.”

Since the launch of the first support hub, programmes have also been launched at ACJ Phakade Primary in Nomzamo and Dr GJ Joubert Primary in Strand.

At the pilot school a needs analysis was done in consultation with the school’s senior management team, after which the hub collaborated to develop potential solutions for problems discussed collectively. The hub coordinator then designated various tasks to the hub members, who need to activate their own networks to respond to the need. The final step is the implementation of an action plan, which sees the tasks executed and feedback provided to the hub.

The first three tasks identified through the needs analysis of Nomzamo High are the 50 new or used smart devices for the matric learners with no access, a marquee tent for the regulated daily scanning and sign-ins of staff and learners during winter as well as funds for the labour and hardware of connecting to school’s lavatory facilities to existing water tanks. The first two smart devices have already been sourced and have been delivered to the school for testing.

“We are actively working towards the belief that a school’s community can empower its school with support, investment and involvement,” Caryn Maree from SSCC said. “In return, a strong school has the potential to transform its community by offering hope for the future. In this challenging time we launched a support hub to strengthen this school.” The support of the community is needed to realise the mission and vision of the support hubs fully.

So a full-time SSCC project manager must be appointed to drive the tasks on behalf of the school. “The work of SSCC at under-resourced state schools in the Helderberg is focused on sustainable change,” Maree added. “We are committed to improving the roots of the schools so that they can also produce the fruits education has to offer learners, communities and society as a whole.”

Businesses and individuals interested in supporting the initiatives can obtain more information by visiting www.strongschools.co.za or sending a WhatsApp message to 072 304 2045.

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