Global Connections V combined both an exploration of Student Leadership in the Education process and a celebration of the Seminar’s return to Africa. The initial gathering of Global Connections in 1997 was co-hosted by St. Stithians College and Collegiate in South Africa and the Maru a Pula School in Botswana. On that occasion there were 41 heads of school and other educators from 10 countries.
At Global Connections V, hosted by the Starehe Boys’ Centre and School in Nairobi, Kenya, 71 principals and directors of educational associations from 27 countries gathered to discuss a theme that influences and affects schools and youth worldwide. Some 25 presenters ranging from Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch, Justice of the High Court of Kenya to Peter Kapenga, Deputy Principal of the Ramallah Friends School in the Occupied West Bank, and Malcolm McKenzie, Principal of the United World College of the Atlantic; all of whom provided insight and differing opinions as to the question of the students’ roles and responsibilities in leadership.
Starehe itself became a role model. Its concepts of leadership, trust and responsibility challenged all participants. The relevance of the concept of leadership within the Starehe community was reinforced as one learned that this institution, approaching its 42nd anniversary and with the Founding Director still at the helm, provides first class education to some 1,100 young men from all over Kenya, 70% of whom are orphaned or come from destitute families.
In many respects, Starehe became the benchmark against which others could measure their own school’s concepts of leadership. For example, the Starehe Boys’ Scout troop is ranked number one in all of East Africa and yet there is no Scoutmaster. The older boys teach and take responsibility for the younger students. No teachers administer evening study halls and all students have the right of speech at the school’s weekly Barazza where students’ opinions, comments and critiques of school life may be made freely and without retribution before the entire school.
The Seminar focused on different styles and concepts of leadership worldwide in single sex and co-educational schools, boarding and day schools, private and public/government schools. Diversity of backgrounds, cultures and systems of education lent a depth and complexity to the issue of Student Leadership. Nevertheless, a Declaration on Youth Leadership in Schools was drafted, discussed and unanimously approved at the Seminar’s final meeting. It reflects the ways in which schools can contribute to the nurturing and promotion of positive Student Leadership at local, national and global levels.View Declaration