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Great news! 1,518 school leadership teams complete training to begin their journey to simultaneously transform their schools into centres of excellence

These 1,518 schools which are attended by over 570,000 students are situated in the rural Capricorn North, Vhembe East and Vhembe West education districts in South Africa which are situated adjacent to the Zimbabwe border and the border of the Kruger National Park.

The District Directors of the three districts have reported to the provincial Head of the Limpopo Department of Education that they expect significantly  improved academic results at the end of each academic year mainly due to significant improvements in the effectiveness of School Leadership Teams and transformation of the habits and attitudes of teachers, students and the school leadership teams.

The International Schools Centre of Excellence Programme has empowered the entire education supply chain (head of provincial departments of education, three district directors, circuit managers, principals, middle managers, teachers, students, parents and each school community) to become fully engaged in transforming the culture at underperforming schools into cultures experienced at high performance schools. 

The Programme is driven by Ms Onica Dederen, Head of the Limpopo Department of Education and the three District Directors but is implemented from bottom up by each school management team, teachers, learners, parents and the community. A winning combination!! 

The simultaneous training of 1,518 schools to begin their respective journeys become centres of excellence provides evidence of the sustainability, replicability and scalability  of this Programme.

Circuit Managers with the Head of the Limpopo Department of Education, their three District Directors and the Chairman and CEO of the Billion Child Foundation at the Awards Ceremony at the conclusion of the six month programme

Training of school leadership teams in Lesotho to set their schools on a journey to become centres of excellence

UNICEF funded the training of school inspectors in Lesotho to train school leadership teams to begin their journey to transform their schools into centres of excellence.

In the final report to UNICEF the Lesotho Ministry of Education and Training reported that 61% more learners graduated from previously under-performing primary schools compared to the control group.

School Inspectors and Subject Advisors attending the International Schools Centre Of Excellence Programme.

Transforming education at under-performing schools in South Africa

BCF has trained thousands of school leadership teams to begin their journey to transform their schools into centres of excellence since 2011. 

The percentage of students gaining a basic school leaver matriculation pass at schools whose school leadership teams had participated in this Programme increased every year from the year in which they were trained for approximately six years before plateauing at 86%.

During the covid years, 2020 – 2022, despite missing over 100 days of formal education and many families not being able to afford data to take advantage of online teaching, the percentage of students passing remained constant between 85% and 86%. This demonstrates the resilience and sustainability of the Programme. The school leadership teams, teachers, students and parents who are proud of the achievements of their schools are determined that school results will improve every year.  A sense of ownership is a key to success of this Programme.

The percentage of students gaining either a university or technical university matriculation pass at schools whose school leadership teams participated in the Programme prior to 2016 increased from 52% in 2015 to 71% in 2022. This provides evidence that effective teaching and effective learning is achieved at these schools.

Many of the principals who attended training between 2011 and 2016 have retired, died, or were promoted. Despite change of leadership at schools, the high performance culture and academic results remained intact confirming the sustainability of the Programme.

Once a high performance culture is in place, the entire school community works as a cohesive team to ensure standards are maintained.

In 2018 DBE reported that the percentage of students passing English in Grades 5-7 at primary schools whose school leadership teams had been trained increased from 54% in 2014 to 87% in 2017 while the percentage of students passing mathematics in Grades 5-7 increased from 39% in 2014 to 65% in 2017. 

Head teachers, Deputy Head teachers and Departmental Heads developing strategic plans to reinvent their schools to become centres of excellence while attending the International Schools Centre of Excellence Programme in the rural village of Batlharos approximately 40 km southeast of Hotazel in the Northern Cape Province. Note the attire. Hotazel despite its name is very chilly in winter.

157,000 parents have attended the South African National Parenting Skills Programme since 2008

At these workshops parents learned the practical skills they need to raise their children to become confident, self-reliant individuals.  

Parents also learned how to encourage their children to read and do homework every day, the importance of their children not dropping out of school and remaining at school until they matriculate.

Teachers relaxing during a workshop at which they were trained to facilitate the SA National Parenting Skills Programme

Discussions with Ministries of Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

The methodology of this Programme has been studied by the Ugandan, Tanzanian and Zambian Ministries of Education and been found compatible with their objectives, structures and their teaching methodologies.

BCF received Letters of Intent from the Ministries of Education in Uganda and Zambia indicating they wish to launch the Programme but with the caveat that external funding would be required.

BCF has received informal enquiries regarding a fully funded programme from seven African countries, 

With minor adaption, this Programme is replicable in every country. 

Senior officials of the Uganda Ministry of education and Sports meet the BCF Ambassador and his team.

Training of pastors in the dangerous Langa township in Cape Town

SAGA (UK) funded the training of pastors to train congregants and members of the community in practical parenting skills. Pastors trained over 2,000 parents.

SAGA (UK) funded the training of pastors to train congregants and members of the community in practical parenting skills. Pastors trained over 2,000 parents.

International Award: EduWeek 2018 NGO of the Year

BCF was awarded the above award at the 2018 EduWeek Conference in Johannesburg which was the biggest edutech conference in Africa that year attracting over 4,000 delegates

BCF CEO Alan J Whitaker receiving the Award

How Fezile Dabi rose from being a failing education district to become the best performing education district in South Africa

Few students entering the matriculation class at underperforming schools in the Fezile Dabi education district in the Free State Province expected to pass because only 48% of the students who wrote had gained a basic school leavers matriculation pass.

Although they did not know it, their futures were about to change.

At the end of the academic year 75% of the students passed!!

Since, Fezile Dabi has obtained the highest matriculation results in South Africa despite most of the schools being situated in rural areas or in the townships on the outskirts of towns and villages. In so doing it has beaten the education districts in Johannesburg and Cape Town where there are many well-resourced schools which were established over 100 years ago which attract top teaching talent and are handsomely supported by alumni and local businesses. The reason Fezile Dabi beats these districts is because it does not have under-performing schools.  

Amazingly, despite missing over 100 days at school due to covid and many students not being able to afford data to participate in online teaching, 78% of learners who wrote gained a university to technical university matriculation pass!!

What happened

School management teams from underperforming schools in this education district attended the Billion Child Foundation International Schools Centre of Excellence Programme

School management teams learnt how to mobilise and inspire teachers, learners, parents and school communities to proudly work as a cohesive team to develop a culture of effective teaching and effective learning with teachers and parents proudly playing a key role in the education of each child.

Pride, ownership and accountability are the keys.

When teachers feel they are part of something bigger than themselves they prepare lessons more thoroughly and present them in the classroom more effectively.

How a traffic policeman was reduced to tears

A few years ago our Chairman and CEO, Alan, was driving back from Bloemfontein to Pretoria in South Africa which is a round trip of 10 hours. On the return journey 300 km north of Bloemfontein a large traffic policeman stopped him for travelling at 140 km per hour.

He admitted he had exceeded the speed limit of 120 km per hour and climbed out.

They both leaned against the car and discussed the weather and sport while the officer worked around to the fact that a policeman’s shoes don’t last very long. Before the officer could ask for money for the shoes Alan said he wanted to show him why he had been to Bloemfontein.

In the boot was a contract signed that morning by Stanley Malope the Superintendent General of Free State Provincial Department of Education commissioning BCF to train an additional 108 school management teams to transform their schools to become centres of excellence.

After examining the contract, the police officer asked him if his name was Ellen. He told a wonderful story about his son. 

During July, the previous year his son who was in Grade 12 wanted to drop out of school as he felt he was certain to fail to gain a university entrance matriculation during the year end examinations.

He said that someone called Ellen had been responsible for training the school management team of the school his son attended. 

Suddenly everything had changed. The teachers began teaching. They started after school ‘clinics’ for those who needed extra lessons. The parents and community came on board. 

Cutting short the story he told Alan with tears running down his face, his son was now at university and had just completed his first year to become a land surveyor.

He told Alan to get back in his car and drive 23 km to the next Services and to get the jockey to take the petrol out of my car and replace it with Red Bull as my car would go faster so that he could get home sooner!!!

Not bad for the police officer who had stopped Alan for speeding!

Alan wanted to share the story with you to demonstrate what it means to children and parents when you transform a school into a centre of excellence. The students get a very real chance to escape a life in poverty to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle.

To date BCF has trained thousands of school management teams to transform their schools into centres of excellence. Over 2.9 million learners at these schools have been the beneficiaries of the generosity of UNICEF, VVOB, Worley Ltd and many other Foundations and Trusts.

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