School principals as conduits for sustainable livelihoods in agricultural communities in rural South Africa 

The main focus of this project, was to empower school principals towards re-imagining education towards sustainable livelihoods. It encompassed ecologies of learning through reflexive and ongoing transgressive co-engagements with education for sustainable development with community partners, through school culture change, teacher development and pedagogical transformations in classrooms. An established leadership intervention program based on a 70:20:10 model was set up with 4 school leaders and 4 business leaders who engaged in a year-long program that focused on the leadership of education for sustainable livelihoods.

This research project sought to develop school leaders and business leaders towards a process of repurposing education for sustainable livelihoods using the school food garden. The participatory nature of this research enabled the co-creation of action plans by Action Learning Sets that comprised, leaders, teachers, community members and unemployed youth.

The changes that resulted included:

  • Increased awareness and sustainability consciousness;
  • Self-leadership and empowerment towards learner “life” success rather than “school” success;
  • Leader agency in developing sustainable gardens through partnerships with business and community;
  • Teacher development of revisioning curriculum with a core focus on learning skills that enable food security but expand and extend into mechanisms for sustainable livelihoods;
  • Community engagement and volunteerism in “owning”, “investing” and “learning” from the garden; and
  • School culture evolution that is noticeable due to active learning in the school food garden.

The main lesson that this research project offers is summarised in the African idiom “it takes a village to raise a child.” Life success (within conceptions of sustainable livelihoods) and self-sufficiency in terms of food security are possible when schools and her resources (teachers, leaders and gardens) become part of community upliftment and where common purpose of education intersect with community values and aspirations of success. 

More information about the project

Key Themes:
Decolonising Research and Addressing Inequalities
Sustainable Livelihoods
Location: south africa
Principal Investigator: Kathija Yassim
Co-Investigators: Logan Govender, Bridget Johnson, Komala Pillay
Host Organisation: University of Johannesburg
Duration: 12 months

If you’d like to know more, you can contact the project Principal Investigator here.