Ms. Sajidah Ahmed is from the Teacher Development Directorate and is responsible for professional development and training in schools. She became aware of the Jika iMfundo Campaign in 2017 and participated in the development of the SMT modules and leadership sessions of the programme.
Ms. Ahmed explains what struck her about the Jika iMfundo Campaign: “What stood out for me were the ideas of collaboration and accountability. It is important to understand people, and team effort is crucial. As I regard the above aspects as important to my own work, I continue to seek this from others within the team and the schools that I support. I have learned that in order to have a professional conversation, the starting point is evidence. This was not an easy practice to adopt, but with time it became easier.”
Ms. Ahmed elaborates on the changes that need to occur to promote collaboration in schools: “I believe the most significant change for me was to build relationships of trust. This has helped me to understand and empathize with the SMTs. They realize that I’m not there to find fault but to support them. The training has helped me and the SMTs to understand that support can only be beneficial if there is mutual trust. Compliance, on the other hand, does not allow opportunities for growth and development of people. Jika iMfundo has helped us to understand the difference between malicious compliance and real change, and that support for change and improvement comes from building relationships of trust.”
When asked about what will make some of the changes related to the Jika iMfundo ‘stick’ in the system, Ms. Ahmed emphasised that there should be, “… ongoing capacity building through leadership development sessions.” She also mentioned that, “The Teacher Development Directorate should be part of the design of the SMT modules.” This highlights an important point: the province and districts should not only be the ‘owners’ of the change programme, they should also be the ‘drivers’ of the programme. This will allow the programme to be embedded and sustained in the province, districts, and schools of KZN.