It has been tough for all of us. And if there is one thing that Covid-19 has shown us it is the fact that there is unequal access to teaching and learning between the privileged and the poor in South Africa. The pandemic has worsened the academic outcomes at many schools. Principals have been faced with many challenges even when schools reopened. Since March it has been a series of “stop-go” instructions and circumstances – all new to principals throughout the world.
It is the Principal’s responsibility to reboot a school and ensure that everything is held together and on track. The responsibility weighs heavily. You need to keep the staff accountable; the focus at a high school is always on grade 12 results yet, at the same time, at a combined school like Port Alfred High, you need to keep the grade 1s in the palm of your hand. In trying to hold everything together while fighting the Covid-19 enemy, there are multiple fronts including the Department of Basic Education, the Department of Health, parents and other stakeholders like the School Governing Body all demanding your attention. As a principal I have realised that one needs to dig deep into your reserves of resilience, tenacity, persistence and patience while remaining committed to conquering the enemy.
The Port Alfred High School staff will recall that, early on, I stated that we are all in different boats but in the same storm. Our job is to steer the school ship into the safety of the harbour by 15 December 2020 without losing too much in terms of the academic year. It is in times such as this that teachers, support staff, parents and all stakeholders need to rally and stand together as committed troops marching to victory. It is important to be mindful that, as in any war situation, there are those who will seek to manipulate the system for their own benefit. It is our job to guard against such corruption, thank and work with those who support communities in dire need and to always put the well-being of our learners at the top of the priority list.
As the principal of Port Alfred High School it is my duty to set the direction of our ship, invest in key people, redesign the institution and adapt the leadership style to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 context. It is vital to ensure that everyone is embedded in the fabric of the school and is treated fairly. It has been my baptism of fire while also my pleasure to go to war with dedicated, passionate, hardworking colleagues who always putting our learners first so as to nurture future leaders of South Africa.