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A visit from Prof Chabani Manganyi, JET's first CEO

On Wednesday 5 June 2018, JET was honoured with a visit from Prof Chabani Manganyi, our first CEO. Prof Manganyi reminisced about the founding of the Joint Education Trust and acknowledged JET for the good work it has been doing in the education sector over a very long time.

Prof Manganyi reminisced about the founding of the Joint Education Trust and acknowledged JET for the good work it has been doing in the education sector over a very long time. 

Prof Manganyi shared part of his life story with us: He hails from what is now Limpopo, where he attended primary school and then, at secondary level, a Swiss missionary school at Lemana. He credits the education he received at Lemana for his studying for his PhD and landing up working at JET. Although schooled during the era of Bantu Education, Prof Manganyi was taught by black teachers who were dedicated to their profession – they made it possible to receive a good education in spite of the apartheid system.  He spoke about his father who, although away working in Johannesburg, insisted that his only son attend school. 

Prof Manganyi and Nick Taylor were appointed together to manage the Joint Education Trust and along with Kathy Tracey (PA to Prof Manganyi) were the first employees of JET.

Prof Manganyi was CEO until he received a personal call from Nelson Mandela who wanted him to be the first Director General of the new Department of Education. As Prof Manganyi said, one did not refuse a call from, nor turn Nelson Mandela down.

Prof Manganyi remarked that it felt good to be back at JET and that he sensed the same drive and energy that existed when the organisation was started. “It is exciting and pleasing to come to JET and see that people are still happy, driven and committed to the Joint Education Trust. Even though I left JET, it still remains a place where my heart is” – Prof Manganyi (2018)

Prof Manganyi noted that there has been slow progress in terms of educational change in South Africa and made reference to the evidence in the book “Creating Effective Schools”, co- edited by Nick Taylor and Thabo Mabogoane.  He lamented that part of the problem may be that teachers became politicized during the apartheid regime, and there is now a need for a culture change and for teachers to return to the teaching profession.

Nick Taylor added his memories of JET’s early days, and James Keevy pointed out that while education is still beset by problems, our research has enabled us to identify those problems, which is a step towards addressing them.

During a brief walk around the Education Hub, JET’s new office in Parktown, and while meeting staff, Prof Manganyi noted how at home he felt, as if he were returning to the same organisation he had left behind when Madiba called him in 1995.

We thank Prof Manganyi for sharing his memories with us and reminding us of the hope that lay behind the formation of the Joint Education Trust.  Our values as a JET team have remained true to those original ideals, and we are as committed as ever to making a difference in a country that needs us.