Working Together to make a Difference

When looking at the state of education in South Africa it is easy to get overwhelmed by the need and paralysed into inaction. But Partners for Possibility (PfP) has tackled these issues head-on with an ambitious plan that partners business with school principals. Several schools in the Cape Winelands are benefitting from these partnerships.

The World Economic Forum ranks South Africa 146th out of 148 countries for educational quality in Maths and Science, while more than 50% of children drop out before matriculating. And while government seems to be pouring resources into the education sector, the situation just seems to get worse.

Partners for Possibility is a creative solution to South Africa's education crisis. It is a co-action, co-learning partnership between school principals and business leaders where companies invest a portion of their Corporate Social Investment (CSI) budget by releasing an employee to partner with a school principal and so bring about change within the school.

The business leader uses his or her own knowledge and experience in a facilitated and structured programme to give the principals the support they need to take action. The programme aims to equip the principal with leadership skills to manage and motivate the teachers; and enables that principal to engage with the parents and community and so bring about a co-operation and accountability which in turn allows the learners to thrive even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Ronald Frans, principal of Klapmuts Primary School and Remgro’s Theo van den Berg are one such partnership.

Klapmuts Primary School serves a community located between Paarl and Stellenbosch where parents find contract employment as seasonal workers in the surrounding vineyards. Unemployment is high and therefore resources at the school are low. 85% of the families survive on government grants. But that hasn’t stopped Frans who has always harboured big dreams for the school.

Through his partnership with Van den Berg, Frans was enabled to approach the Cape Wine Auction Trust for funding. With this money he was able to train and employ 24 teaching assistants from the community. “They were matriculants just sitting at home doing nothing,” says Frans, “and now they are giving back to the community by helping the learners, and they are earning a salary.”

In addition, the school has made great strides in eLearning. “Poverty diminishes opportunity,” explains Frans. “Some children have never seen the sea or even Table Mountain, which is why visual learning is even more important here. We have to bring the world into the classroom.”

Similarly, the school has increased the learners’ exposure through sport. The school now hosts an annual Sevens rugby tournament where the learners are exposed to teams from other schools.

“Theo has been a rock,” says Frans, “he has been a great sounding board and the two of us are a good team.”
Van den Berg in turn feels that his role was merely supportive: “Ronnie has big dreams for the school so I couldn’t help but buy into that.” 

So far Partners for Possibility has impacted over 600 schools with their partnership programme with numbers growing every year. For more information on how to get involved visit

-Julia Moore