News & Media

Leaders in the education sector to elevate their contribution to a better Africa

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Centre Southern Africa (RLC-SA) and the Trevor Noah Foundation launched the Education Change Makers Leadership programme on 10 February 2020. The launch welcomed 50 young leaders from 13 countries across Southern Africa selected to participate in the programme. The launch at the Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL) had in attendance several inspiring leaders sharing their best advice with the young leaders.


Ryan Harduth (Trevor Noah Foundation Board Member), Lillian Barnard (Managing Director: Microsoft South Africa), John Groarke (USAID Southern Africa Mission Director) and Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Unisa)

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Unisa, Prof Mandla Makhanya, highlighted that "the education sector is under the spotlight especially now for both its failures and successes and this programme will drive and bring about positive change in the education system. The three-year win-win partnership with the Trevor Noah Foundation will breed a new generation of leaders with professional skills, knowledge and experience and leadership beyond the spheres of education."

John Groarke, USAID Southern Africa Mission Director, encouraged the change makers to seize this opportunity, get the most out of it and use it to contribute to change in the education space. He commended Unisa, the Trevor Noah Foundation and the RLC-SA for having the commitment to and confidence in the education change makers.

“I've come to realise the secret is great teachers. In my life and the lives of many other kids, one great teacher has made all the difference." ~ Trevor Noah

In sharing her leadership journey with the change makers, Lillian Barnard, Managing Director at Microsoft South Africa, touched on the importance of artificial intelligence, its transformative impact on life, and what that will mean for the education sector. She stressed that changing from the industrial revolution is inevitable not optional; she therefore encouraged the education change makers to be bold and fearless, and to ensure they arrived at the finish line of their success.

Trevor Noah Foundation Board Member Ryan Harduth applauded his team for their accomplishments given the organisation’s infancy, including this milestone partnership with YALI RLC-SA. He reinforced the critical role that educators play in shaping the future nation and looked forward to following the journeys of the 50 selected change makers over the next few months.

Closing the launch, Olwethu Sipuka, Director of YALI RLC-SA, expressed his hope that the programme would expand in the future, addressing education challenges across the continent.


The Education Change Makers Leadership Training programme is a partnership between the YALI Regional Leadership Centre Southern Africa and the Trevor Noah Foundation. The programme will be housed at the Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership in Midrand, South Africa, from 10 February to 6 March 2020.

The Education Change Makers programme aims to equip leaders in the education sector with the skills, attitudes and networks to elevate their contribution to a better Africa. Selected from a pool of over 1 000 applicants, these teachers, principals, education practitioners and policymakers are committed to making a greater impact in their communities by participating in the programme.

The diverse group of young leaders, between the ages of 18 and 35, committed to a four-week intensive residential training programme where they will be exposed to business and public management tools for the education sector. This will be followed by six months of postgraduate coaching and mentoring, continued professional development, networking and collaboration opportunities.

YALI was launched by the United States of America Government as a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Since its inception in 2015, the YALI RLC-SA has transformed the lives of over 4 600 young African leaders directly, while the alumni initiatives have influenced thousands more. Since its establishment, the RLC-SA has been robustly supported by USAID, with additional fiscal and in-kind sponsorship provided by the MasterCard Foundation and Unisa, as well as a handful of global and regional academic, corporate and non-profit entities.

The Trevor Noah Foundation is a South African-based non-profit organisation that equips under-served youth with the educational foundation and opportunity to become resilient future leaders of South Africa. In its flagship Khulani Schools programme, it implements interventions in areas of learner skills development, teacher training and support, and infrastructure to ensure young people exit into viable learning options post matric.

* Submitted by Harry Ntombela, YALI RLC SA | Partnerships and Alumni Manager

For interview requests, please contact Harry Ntombela (Partnerships and Communications Manager, YALI RLC SA) on 011 652 0329 / or Shalane Yuen (Executive Director, Trevor Noah Foundation) on

Publish date: 2020-02-19 00:00:00.0