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Education Conversations


The “Education Conversations” were a series of facilitated discussions on education that took place at various national tertiary institutions, in collaboration with the Development Bank of Southern Africa, The Field Education and the Mail and Guardian. The aim was to engage South Africans in constructive and solution-driven dialogue about the issues facing education today, based on the belief that education is a complex and dynamic issue that will require the participation of a wide spectrum of civil society.

Anyone and everyone who is passionate about improving the state of education in our country can make a valuable contribution to creating solutions, because although there are large structural and technical changes that need to take place, some of the most important challenges facing our learners and schools are to do with changing behavior.

In addition to the events, Education Conversations involved a nation-wide multi-media campaign to encourage people throughout the country to talk about what is working, the solutions they’ve discovered in their particular areas. There are islands of excellence that exist, despite the odds, in our country, and it is crucial to create a platform for these ideas and solutions to be shared.

The initiative was a resounding success, with extensive media coverage and over 900 participants from a variety of backgrounds: academics, students, teachers, parents, and concerned members of the public. The interest and insight shown by all participants is indicative of an encouraging shift in public attitude towards education, and we were honoured to host such illustrious speakers as MECs Grant and Creecy, Professor Jansen, Dr Badat and Dr Mamphela Ramphele.

The conversation topics were:

BUILDING OUR DEMOCRACY – “How do we prepare young people in schools and universities to be active and caring citizens?” (Free State University) Rector Professor Jonathan Jansen and Graeme Bloch

EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION -”What can each of us do to turn our schools into centres of excellence?” (University of the Western Cape) MEC for Education Donald Grant, Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, Professor Brian O’Connel and Graeme Bloch)

LEADERSHIP IN SCHOOLS – “How can we encourage great leadership to emerge in schools?” (University of Johannesburg) MEC for Education Barbara Creecy, Ms Matshiliso Dipholo (SADTU Vice President), Dr Mduduzi Mathe (Principal, Bukhulani High School, Soweto), Ravi Naidoo, Nolulamo Gwagwa

FIXING SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS – “What can we all do to ensure that our schools deliver the best possible education and opportunities to our children?” (Rhodes University) Vice-Chancellor Dr Saleem Badat and Graeme Bloch

To download podcasts of the talks visit

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