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Fred Swaniker on Leadership and Education [INTERVIEW] – AfricanYouthJournals

Fred Swaniker on Leadership and Education [INTERVIEW] – AfricanYouthJournals

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Published by Fanele Chester

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Published by: Fanele Chester on Nov 20, 2012
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Fred Swaniker on Leadership andEducation [INTERVIEW]
April 12, 2012 ByAfricanYouthJournals Leave a Comment
 Fanele Chester, Swazilan
Fred Swaniker on Leadership and Education [INTERVIEW] – A...http://africanyouthjournals.com/2012/04/12/fred-swaniker-on-l...1 of 711/19/12 11:29 PM
Fred Swaniker, Co-Founder and CEOof the African Leadership Academyand African Leadership NetworkPHOTO: STANFORD.EDUSuccessful entrepreneurship comprises of three key elements: great people, a great ideaand capital. In Africa, there are plenty of ideas and opportunities, ones too that wouldhave very little or no competition in the market place. The capital needed to transformthese ideas into successful enterprises is there. What we do not have is people.
[African Leadership Academy]
1. Based on its success and recognition since opening its doors four years ago, is the African Leadership Academy (ALA) considering starting charter schools around the continent? Is ALAconsidering mentoring sister schools, or sharing some of the lessons and strategies that have worked so well, in order to broaden its reach to more African students around the continent?
We get this question a lot, however our focus is actually not to expand. So much work still needs to bedone, and a good leader is one that focuses on one thing and doing it very well. The AfricanLeadership Academy is still not sustainable, for example 85% of our students are on scholarship.Therefore we need to work on perfecting our model.However, one way we could expand is opening regional campus, for example a campus in WestAfrica, and East Africa. These would be ideally started by graduates of the academy, since they wouldhave an understanding of how we do things.From a short-term perspective, one thing we could do is train teachers from other schools based onour model. In addition, we could share our curriculum. Soon, we are planning to launch our owncurriculum called the African Baccalaureate (AB). This is a curriculum for Africans, by Africans,with a strong focus on leadership and entrepreneurship.Finally, its important to note that what makes the African Leadership Academy successful is not ourfacilities, but our philosophy and methodology. Opening a new campus with the same facilities isexpensive, and requires at least $30 – $50 million upfront. On the other hand, philosophy is free.
2. “Private schools for the Poor” is the title of an article that appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in January. It talks about the success of affordable private education in developingcountries around the world. Having been involved in education since your teenage days, especially asa school principal for a year before going to college, and now with the successful African Leadership Academy, what are your observations or thoughts on the increase in affordable private schools? Do you think we are ready to let the private sector take care of our schools, or should it be more of a private-public-partnership?
First, the public school model is doing well and successful in some African countries. For example,some of our strongest students come from Kenya and Zimbabwe, where public schools are goodschools. Its not an either or approach, that is, public or private, that is most important. Where thepublic school system is successful, it should be further strengthened and we should learn from them.
Fred Swaniker on Leadership and Education [INTERVIEW] – A...http://africanyouthjournals.com/2012/04/12/fred-swaniker-on-l...2 of 711/19/12 11:29 PM
Where it isn’t, the private sector can then leverage private education. In addition, a partnershipbetween the two would be great since the private sector may offer new ideas and innovation that thepublic may lack.
3. Khanyi Dhlomo, founder Ndalo Media, publisher of the successful Destiny and Destiny Magazine,commented that over the past four years, herself and her team realised that they had to “stop seeingourselves as a media company, but rather as a producer of quality business and lifestyle content which we can deliver in various forms across a number of platforms and industries”. Over the past  four years, has ALAs core competency evolved? How has your vision behind the academy changed  from when you co-founded it to today?
At first, we started as a high school, but we have realized that we are not educating students butleaders that will transform Africa. As a result, we now see our self as an African leadershipinstitution. Further, its important to note that one cannot become a leader over two years; it’s alife-long development process. This is why we work with teenagers during the two-years in ALA,with their college applications, as well as fostering a network that they can use in college and beyond.We are fostering a life-long network of leaders.
[African Leadership Network]
4. Let’s talk about the African Leadership Network (ALN), and Africa’s new generation of leaders.Who are Africa’s new generation of leaders? What are the challenges they are tackling, and theopportunities they are pursuing? What is the value of a network such as ALN, especially in Africa?
Each generation of African leaders has their own legacy. The first generation’s legacy isindependence, and is comprised of the likes of Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba. The second iscoups, warfare, corruption, as evident in countries like Nigeria and Zaire. The third, from ten to fifteenyears ago, left a legacy of peace and stability, where war is an exception and not the norm. Thislegacy can be seen clearly in Liberia. The fourth generation’s legacy is that of economic independence(compared to political independence), a crucial legacy that we needed to create our own wealth, so wewere able to provide basic needs such as education and food.The new generation of African leaders’ legacy is building prosperity for the African continent. It’sabout bringing wealth into the continent. This generation is below 45 years of age, a dynamic andentrepreneurial group of people that have the energy to bring prosperity on a continental scale. TheAfrican Leadership Network is essentially a pan-African network of these leaders, who are workingtogether as a continent and not as individual African countries. It’s a network of pan-Africanrelationships that works to foster an integrated African economy, for example where a financeMinister in Uganda can work with a private company in Nigeria on a power plant that serves amultitude of countries.
5. The Tony Elumelu Foundation, which celebrated their first year anniversary in December, has a particularly innovative philanthropy in its premise to help organic African companies grow from anational to an international level. It’s a scale of entrepreneurship that has not fully caught on in the African continent, except for a few outliers such as Strive Masiyiwa and Aliko Dangote. It isreminiscent of the age of consolidators in America’s entrepreneurship history, which produced entrepreneurs such as Henry Ford. Speaking from the context of ALN, what are your thoughts on
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