Coordinating collaboration in the education sector

Improved collaboration could be a catalyst for businesses, non-profit organisations (NPOs) and government to design more effective and sustainable developmental interventions. David Harrison, CEO of the DG Murray Trust, told delegates at the Trialogue Business in Society Conference 2019 that “improved collaboration in corporate social investment (CSI) is what South Africa really needs to achieve significant quantum leaps”.

Based on her experience with the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project (OMEFP), Kanyisa Diamond is of the opinion that corporates often make the mistake of designing CSI projects without any prior engagement with government. Having this prior engagement and “designing together” would assist in establishing projects which meet the common goals. It would also assist to solidify the government’s buy-in and trust, by providing a platform to address any underlying concerns about the scale of the project and to see if the content meets the vision in the province/area. Diamond emphasised that, unlike corporates, government is concerned about entire schooling areas, rather than one or two schools at a time, so it is important for companies to prove, through effective monitoring and evaluation, that the cause and effect of their interventions have a net positive.

Does a partnership need a key driver?

Harrison underscored the importance of distinguishing between different forms of collaboration. “There are some powerful social coalitions which do not necessarily need a central driver, he explained. However, when one is trying to drive a campaign in a multistakeholder partnership, it is inevitable to have a backbone organisation to drive it,” he said. Therefore, assessing the purpose and structure of the collaboration is an important criterion for determining whether a key driver is necessary. For example, when there are multiple funding organisations from different countries, it makes sense that one organisation – preferably the country of impact – is appointed to drive the initiative.

Defining roles and responsibilities

According to Dr Rooksana Rajab, an associate of JET education services, the parties that are responsible for the implementation of CSI programmes often have different goals, which often results in power struggles and conflict that hinder the true value and impact of the initiatives. Clarity regarding roles and responsibilities in a collaborative initiative should be agreed from the onset in order to mitigate any potential drawbacks.

Department of Basic Education’s five pillars for partnering

“The guidelines for the collaborative roles that government would like to see companies and NPOs play in the education sector is highlighted by five pillars,” explained Given Mabena:

  1. Financial support
  2. Volunteering and capability
  • Priority support (as stated by National Teaching Fellowship Scheme and the National Development Plan)
    1. Infrastructure
    2. Teacher development and training
    3. Early childhood development
    4. Information communication technology
  • Research, innovation and support
  • Advocacy (mobilisation campaigns and specific events)

Conflict need not compromise trust

When multiple organisations begin to collaborate, it is inevitable that they will encounter conflict. Colleen Magner of Reos Partners emphasised that conflict can be healthy when leveraged in the right manner. It is very important to surface conflicts and not pretend that everybody is in consensus. Colleen asserted that the “tricky part is how to stay in conflict and maintain trust”.

IMAGE: Fltr-Colleen Magner (Reos Partners), Given Mabena (Department of Basic Education), Dr Rooksana Rajab (JET Education Services), Kanyisa Diamond (Old Mutual Foundation) and David Harrison (DG Murray Trust)

Article written by Claude Kamangirira

Photo taken by Cobus Oosthuizen

2019-05-21T17:15:46+00:00 May 10th, 2019|Business in Society 2019, Uncategorised|