“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.
Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
The political, economic and educational landscape in South Africa has never been more volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous. It is in this uncertainty and ambiguity that Sacred Heart College brings a sense of hope and stability without being naïve or short sighted. Interestingly, the McKinsey report Lions on the move II: Reaching the potential of Africa’s Economies says that our continent has strong fundamentals but that governments and companies “need to work harder to make the most of its potential. The report stresses that one particular area that needs more attention is creating tomorrow’s talent. Creating and growing that talent cannot be left to chance but must be intentional and deliberate.
We recognize that learning takes place throughout life in many places and spaces. Learning experiences that are not providing learners with learning environments and opportunities that prepare all of them for the challenges of work, life, and citizenship in the 21st century and beyond are not setting those learners up for success. They are not creating and growing the talent that will ensure that we reach our potential as a continent and as an important country on this continent.
Creating and growing that talent has a strong foundation for success in learning that takes place in a school that provides a range of experiences for learners. These experiences should develop skills, dispositions and abilities to succeed individually as well as ensuring ongoing innovation in our economy and the health of our democracy. A school that does this is a school that is resilient, responsive and relevant. As important as developing these skills, dispositions and abilities, is providing a place that encourages a sense of identity and belonging.
Schools both private and state have been challenged by learners this year because of this sense of alienation and a feeling that they don’t belong. This is in part as a result of an imposed and poorly interrogated school code of conduct as well as a single dominant largely colonial culture that has gone unchallenged for the past 22 years.
As we celebrate 20 years of our Constitution and all that it encourages us to aspire to, it is important to remember that we are accountable to the rights and responsibilities enshrined in our Constitution. When a school draws up a code of conduct, it should always provide for the reasonable accommodation of all the different cultural and religious practices of the learners in that school. This demands much more than mere tolerance of what is perceived as different beliefs and practices. It requires a respect and celebration of the diversity of cultures and religions in South Africa.
In reviewing our Code of Conduct this year we were reminded of this imperative by our learner body. We will continue to interrogate our Code of Conduct as well as our curriculum to ensure that we continue to be a High School that is inclusive in all aspects of its functioning. Our warmth of welcome and family spirit is something we should never take for granted and as we celebrate all these aspects of Sacred Heart College we must remind ourselves that we are united in our diversity and that Sacred Heart College has been a place and a space where our learners have many different learning opportunities to thrive as tomorrow’s leaders, workers, and citizens.
Ms Heather Blanckensee