Excursion Details – Tour of the Rhodes Integrated Public Schools Initiative


When: 03 November 2023 

Time: 10:15 – 16:00 

Cost: R475

Register: To register for the excursion click here

10h15 (TBC)   Depart from the Premier Regent, East London

13:00 – 14:00  Lunch at Rhodes University, welcome from the Deputy Vice Chancellor and presentations from the Rhodes Integrated                                            Public Schools Initiative Project leaders and School Principals.

14:00               Board the Bus

14:10               Drive through Makhanda, where Project Leaders will orientate delegates inthe bus, sharing in the rich journey of how the city                                came together working towards revitalising public education and creating opportunities for all children and youth in Makhanda.                        Drive past primary and high schools.   

15:00              Comfort break at the Assumption Development Centre and another stop at the Joza Youth Hub.

16:00              Back at Rhodes University campus. From here, delegates should arrange transport for their ongoing journeys

The Rhodes Integrated Public Schools Initiative

When Prof Sizwe Mabizela was inaugurated as Rhodes University’s 6th Vice-Chancellor (VC) in 2015, he signaled that he wishes to lead a university that would address head-on the challenges of the young people in Makhanda, and build a more inclusive City. In what became known as “the VC’s Initiative”, Prof Mabizela committed Rhodes to contribute to the revitalization of public schooling in the City. There is also a considerable civil society competence in Makhanda, and partnership and collaboration are at the heart of the VC’s Initiative. Rhodes entered into a partnership arrangement with GADRA Education, one of the city’s most established NGOs. and built an ambitious, multi-facetted programme in which a number of local schools, public and private; university entities like Community Engagement (RUCE), Inthetho Zobomi (Allan Gray Centre of Ethical Leadership), teacher education programmes, the South African Numeracy Chair and the Business School; as well as NGOs such as the Lebone Centre, contribute. This rich networking environment has generated new ideas and enabled strong partnerships of collaboration.

The approach is characterised by innovation and iteratively learning, including experimenting with how to optimise Community-University Partnerships to impact positively on public education. This is evident in the Nine-Tenths Mentoring project, which has created a corps of informed, capable and engaged university students to mentor high school learners. The Nine-Tenths Mentoring project received the 2021 Global MacJannet Prize for exceptional student community engagement initiatives, competing against 15 other countries.

The Rhodes Integrated Public Schools Initiative recognises the complexity of the schooling system within its wider socio-economic context, and aims for systemic change through social mobilisation of educational resources and communities of practice. It addresses key components at different levels within the system, and has demonstrated that small changes linked to a particular innovation, can bring about significant shifts in the system as a whole.

Over the past decade, the number of disadvantaged local students who have gained access to Rhodes University has increased tenfold, from around 12 per annum to over 130. Makhanda has become the best performing city in the Province for three consecutive years, with an 85% NSC pass rate, 5% higher than the national average and 8% higher than the Provincial average. The number of Bachelor passes achieved has increased from 179 in 2015 to 305 in 2022 and the school drop-out rate has decreased from 43% in 2015 to 35% in 2022.

 In 2022, an evaluation led by the Tutuwa Foundation concluded that the programme was ‘excellently executed and achieved admirable depth’ and played a ‘key role in building the education community in the city, filling an important gap’. Notable was that the programme operates effectively along the entire stakeholder chain, comprising learners, teachers, schools, the community, students, academics and the schooling sector at large. 

We hope that this excursion will spark ideas for others who want to start or expand systemic initiatives in their local contexts, and we also look forward to conference delegates sharing their own examples and reflections, to contribute to our ongoing learning, as we strive make an even bigger impact on public education as higher education and civil society partners.

Please register and pay by 15 October 2023.