GADRA Education seeks to function in such a way that befits its purpose as an agent of transformation in education. It embraces the principles and practices of collective activism and social justice. GADRA Education identifies itself as a learning organisation, that is committed to reflection, self-criticism, innovation and the risk taking that is necessary for trail blazing.
Taking a ground-breaking stance the organisation utilises its service delivery work as a base from which to mount advocacy forays. And, it seeks to use the advocacy experience and process to strengthen the quality of the services that it delivers. The organisation operates with a deliberate consciousness that public sector education and particularly schooling are not neutral spaces that can be resolved through technical interventions. One must alter the operation of power within and around the system to make it possible to effect transformation. In order to raise levels of accountability it is necessary to tackle the power that sustains the system in ways which necessarily include the stakeholder groupings best placed to demand greater accountability from schools namely; parents, learners and leadership.
GADRA Education’s vision is that public education in Grahamstown is fundamentally transformed within the next ten years.
By 2020 there are clear signs that public schooling in the City is experiencing a broad-based revival. By 2025 all children and young adults in Grahamstown benefit from good quality and relevant education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
The mission of GADRA Education (for the period 2016 - 2020) is to:
One of the main advantages of a small NGO is that can respond quickly and decisively to opportunities as these arise. Conventional strategies to remedy public schooling failures in the Eastern Cape have been tried and they have failed. Divergent or innovative thinking and action are required, and this is what GADRA Education commits to.
GADRA Education continuously monitors developments within the education sector as well as the Grahamstown context. When fresh opportunities arise or when new or previously undetected community needs are recognised, the organisation commits itself to responding positively and quickly. In responding to community needs, GADRA Education seeks to blaze trails and to open up paths. The inclination and appetite for innovation is accompanied by a commitment to pilot these new ideas before implementing them at a large-scale in order to ascertaining impact and efficiency.
As a relatively small NGO, on its own there are limits to what GADRA Education can implement and achieve. It implements a variety of strategies to overcome its institutional limitations, fundamentally important in this regard is building networks and partnerships with like-minded and related organisations.
The most significant organisation (of any type) in Grahamstown is Rhodes University. In 2014 GADRA Education signed a broad-ranging Memorandum of Understanding with the Faculty of Education, and later it was recognised as the University’s Community Partner Organisation of the Year for 2014. In 2015 Dr Sizwe Mabizela was inaugurated as Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University. He has captured the imagination of the city and the education community by committing the university to playing a catalytic role in revitalising public schooling in Grahamstown. Significantly, Dr Mabizela has asked GADRA Education to manage the university’s initiative in this regard.
GADRA Education manages the Grahamstown Primary Education Consortium, which comprises various institutions including Rhodes University (the Numeracy Chair and the Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Programme), Lebone Centre and Settlers Hospital.
There are a number of additional organisations (local, national and international) that GADRA Education has close ties with. Some of these are Ashoka, Ikamva Youth, the Mobile Science Lab, Awarenet and the Assumption Development Centre.
It is vital for Grahamstown that GADRA Education’s vision and mission are realised. The organisation delivers educational services that are crucial to the futures of hundreds of local disadvantaged young people and it is well placed to bring about the kind of transformation that is so desperately needed in the public schooling sector. For these reasons, GADRA Education is fully committed to the imperative that it operates in a sustainable manner.