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As a
relatively young democratic nation-state, South Africa has achieved
demonstrable successes; amongst those a world-renowned Constitution and access
to education for all. There are however a number of issues which plague the
constructs of the state. “Yet the reality is that South Africa continues to be
one of the most unequal societies on earth in terms of disparities in wealth,
income, opportunities, and living conditions.” (Badat, 2009)  In this essay, a pair of challenges will be
explored as well as a business response to one of these challenges.

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undermining of the Constituent and the erosion of ethical leadership.

South Africa’s current and fifth Constitution was signed into law on 10
December 1996, it entrenched the values of the ethical and moral leadership.
“As we close a chapter of exclusion and a chapter of heroic struggle, we
reaffirm our determination to build a society of which each of us can be proud,
as South Africans, as Africans, and as citizens of the world…As your first democratically elected President, I
feel honoured and humbled by
responsibilities of signing into law a text that embodies our nation’s highest
aspirations.” (Mandela, 1996). As further highlighted in its Preamble, the
Constitution highlights “the foundations
for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of
the people and every citizen is equally protected by law.” (Republic of South
Africa, 1996). The values espoused by the Constitution include protecting the
rights and freedom of all; as well as standards of leadership, accountability,
dignity, and ethics.

significant challenges facing South Africa is the erosion of ethical
leadership. Ethical leadership is defined “is related to consideration
behaviour, honesty, trust in the leader, interactional fairness and socialised
charismatic leadership.” (Brown, Trevino and Harrison, 2005). Ethical leaders
in South Africa should act in line with the human rights enshrined in its young
democracy and it’s Constitution.  Ethical
leaders should, as value constructs, be “humble, concerned for the greater
good, strive for fairness, take responsibility and show respect for each
individual. Ethical leaders set high ethical standards and act in accordance
with them.” (Miheli?, Lipi?nik, and Tekav?i?, 2010)

case study, in itself, reflects broader South African issues related to
corruption; however, the focus of the essay will highlight the issue of the
erosion of ethical leadership. The case study centres on South Africa’s fourth
President Jacob Zuma and scandals relating to his relationship with a prominent
Indian family and the firing of those that have stood in his way. “The strength
of the Constitution depends on the ability of those in power to protect and
defend it and to submit to the rule of law. With the brazen axing of Gordhan
without reason, Zuma has shown himself to be beyond scrutiny. His presidency is
now capricious, with its aim being shoring up power for himself and his
associates.” (February, 2017). The ‘State of Capture’ report released by the
Public Protector of South Africa highlights extreme abuses of power and
systematic corruption in the state. These are numerous incidents of corruption
from money laundering to the illegal procurement of tenders; where the private
influence of a family has dictated state expenditure by the President. (Public
Protector South Africa, 2016).  At a recent
Constitution Hill event; Former Justice Albie Sachs stated that the current
lack of leadership “undermines the intrinsic values of our Constitution, and by
undermining the ethics of leadership; you do not undermine one tenant; but you
undermine all the tenants of the Constitution.” (Sachs, 2017). The lack of
ethical leadership alongside “increasing evidence of corruption suggests that
too many individuals occupy positions of authority for themselves and their
cronies. The poor and vulnerable are left behind. There is little fairness in
society in the face of rampant corruption. Sadly, the quality of our leadership
is the biggest liability that confronts us today.” (Manual, 2017).

delivery of quality education

equally destructive issue focuses on the crises of education in South Africa.
“Indeed, South African education is in a dire state. We perform very poorly in
global and Africa standardised tests,
basic needs like literacy and numeracy are not being met, schools are
dilapidated and the young people are disillusioned.” (Dwane and Isaacs, 2015)

to education, as under our Constitution, has been provided to all South
Africans, however, the remnants of the Apartheid system remain.  Thus the “results of over a century of
colonial and apartheid rule and racist control of the education system, a
system of education that was segregated hierarchically and geographically along
racial lines.” (Pampalis, 2014). Although much has been done by the Government
to provide educational services and opportunity to the youth, the delivery of
quality education remains a significant issue. 
“In November the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science
Study (TIMSS), a quadrennial test sat by 580,000 pupils in 57 countries, had
South Africa at or near the bottom of its various rankings … A shocking 27% of
pupils who have attended school for six years cannot read.”  (South Africa has one of the world’s worst
education systems, 2017). The delivery of teaching and learning is hampered by
inadequate infrastructure, as reported during a parliamentary reply made by the
Department of Basic Education “Eastern Cape had 187 schools without electricity…Pupils
at 1586 schools in Eastern Cape still used pit latrines, followed by KwaZulu-Natal
at 1379 and Limpopo at 932. Northern Cape only has 10 schools that use pit
latrines, Free State has 196, Mpumalanga 392 and North West 130.” (Heard, 2017)

the challenges in terms of the delivery of curriculum and lack of resources;
there are significant social welfare challenges within our schools. The United
Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women (CEDAW) said in 2011 that there were “grave concerns about the high
number of girls who suffer sexual abuse and harassment in schools”. (CEDAW
Report, 2011)

What can business do?

to quality education is key to South Africa’s transformation, as well as a
fundamental human right as ascribed by the Constitution. Critical to this
hypothesis is the consideration for holistic, whole school development. “It
should be clear that the fundamental challenge is to improve the quality of
education in schools. To be sure, resources for equity of access for poor
students, targeted nutrition programmes, facilities, toilets and the adequate
remuneration of educators are important.” (Badat, 2009) 

proposed theory, a business response to the education milieu, is for a
multi-stakeholder engagement approach through public-private partnerships.
“This includes the understanding that development does not flow from above and
cannot be done to schools by outside experts or officials but requires, within
a framework of common values and goals, unassuming, respectful, sustained and
mutually reciprocal and beneficial partnerships which puts people (teachers,
students) at the centre and draws on and supplements their knowledge, wisdom
and resources and enables them to ultimately become the authors of their own
development.” (Badat, 2009) 

terms of partnerships; investments should focus on large-scale investments of
matched funding, incorporating the replicable models of whole school
development. Numerous non-governmental organisations
are implementing successful education initiatives; however, these are tempered
by inadequate funding and largely small-scale. There needs to be a far more
systematic approach to collaboration. The National Development Plan 2030
highlights the critical need for partnerships in realising its goals. (2011) 
Effective partnerships mean that the whole is often far greater than the
sum of its parts. Partnerships increase sustainability; and for Public-Private
Partnerships to succeed, there is the reduction in the possibility of
duplication and the mobilisation of
collective resources.

evidenced by the establishment of Kagiso Shanduka Trust, one of the largest
Public Private Partnerships in education. With a R400 million investment;
implementation began in 2014 with a district whole school development model.
Kagiso Shanduka Trust’s district-based model has sought to address leadership,
infrastructure, curriculum and social welfare challenges in public schools.
“Partnerships were encouraged in the Free State, in which private organisations brought in infrastructure to help
schools. Kagiso Shanduka Trust helped schools in the Fezile Dabi and Motheo districts, focusing on maths, physical
science, English and home languages. Through the trust, the districts achieved
a pass rate of 90.2% and 82.5%, respectively.” (Fengu, 2018). Free State was
once again awarded the top province; whilst Fezile Dabi was the top performing
district in South Africa (Macupe, 2018). The basis of this partnership and
others taking shape in the education environment is coordinated holistic
development with a considered allocation of knowledge, resources, and funding.


essay has sought to discuss to critical challenges faced in South Africa; with
reference to two issues; eroded ethical leadership and the challenges faced by
the South African education system.  In
both of these issues, is the need for ethical leadership to address and manage
a far more succinct collaborative dialogue. As Hammani
states, should we be serious about leadership and education, we need to refuse
“to accept the logic of inequality and the repression that it involves and
continue to ‘search for human agency’, for the means through which inequality
can be undone.” (Hammani, 2006:32)


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