Eight years ago, Kannemeyer Primary School principal Ridwan Samodien was floundering. Trained as a fine arts teacher, he had never been taught to be a manager, yet he had been steadily promoted until he found himself in a role he was ill-equipped to handle. "We were bleeding kids. We lost teaching posts, we lost the deputy principal. People said I didn’t know what I was doing," he says. Nowadays Samodien exudes confidence and energy, thanks to the nongovernmental organisation Partners for Possibility (PfP), which pairs business leaders with principals of schools in previously disadvantaged areas to boost their managerial and leadership capacity. It was founded by leadership development consultant Louise van Rhyn, who upon returning to SA after a stint overseas was struck by the chasm between the education on offer to her own middle-class children and those from poorer families. "We have 25,000 government schools. Five thousand of them are doing very well, but they are built on white...

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