Postcard from Eswatini

It was a great privilege to be invited to be the guest speaker at the African Confederation of Principals Conference in Eswatini. I had heard a great deal about ACP from my colleagues, particularly my predecessor as ICP President, Alta Van Heerden, who was a former ACP President. It was wonderful to be able to see for myself what a powerful gathering it is and to have the chance to meet and work with so many friends and colleagues from across Africa. Congratulations to President Izuage Anselm, incoming President Welcome Mhlanga and to the Executives from ACP and the Eswatini Principals Association on putting together such a successful conference.

There is so much I could write about our time in Eswatini, but I will confine myself to three immediate thoughts:

  1. When I spoke to the conference I talked about ICP being a global community of practice, drawing together leaders from across the world to learn from one another’s challenges, ideas and solutions. The conference powerfully brought home to me the power of being part of the worldwide family  of ICP.
  2. We have so much in common. Although we came together from a variety of different backgrounds across Africa and in my case Europe, the experiences we described had so many similarities. Pupil attendance, challenges arising from the Pandemic, approaches to professional development, and the need to make effective use of new technologies- these were just some of the themes discussed which have an application wherever we find ourselves in the world.
  3. People matter. I concluded my Keynote by emphasising that amongst all of the tools at our disposal as leaders, we must never forget that people matter more than policies, structures or new technologies. As the Director of Education for Eswatini eloquently put it, education is a ‘social enterprise’. The ACP conference was a reminder of the power of spending time with colleagues not just to learn together, but also to share experiences and to spend time laughing together (my friend Indimuli Kahi, ICP’s Africa Representative, continues to be one of the most amusing public speakers I have ever worked with).

Thank you again to our friends in Eswatini and ACP for making myself, my wife, and ICP’s President Elect Leendert-Jan Veldhuyzen so welcome. I look forward to seeing many of you again soon, either in Finland in September or at ICP’s Convention in Mombasa in 2024.

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