HELSKA is an innovative CUT project in response to the compounding evidence of chronic and pervasive leadership quality challenges across virtually all sectors of society. It is conceived and operated as an academy that provides a support system for talented and gifted youths with a basic leadership record who are also deeply committed to their personal quest to develop into exceptionally skilled higher education and social leaders.
HELSKA offers a series of programmes aimed at advancing the development of the next generation of academics, capable of meeting the administrative, leadership and human capital needs for an excellent, focused public higher education system. These programmes include the provision of fellowships to support high-calibre candidates who intend making a lifelong commitment to the pursuit of excellence in public higher education or the support thereof. It reflects the university’s commitment to ensuring that South Africa’s future generation of leaders is knowledgeable, informed and equipped for the task of entrenching, sustaining and expanding democracy.
What is HELSKA’s vision?
Apart from the development of values, behaviours and competencies for the participating individuals, HELSKA is also focused on developing further social capital in the form of a seamless network of similarly gifted and motivated persons across the university. In brief, HELSKA is planned and designed to empower, train and motivate young people as excellent leaders in the support of socio-economic development as well as the development of quality public institutions.
What does HELSKA aim to achieve?
HELSKA is an intervention through which the university – in future partnership with others – aims to make a contribution to improving socio-economic development nationally through effective leadership. This intervention is premised on effective and targeted intellectual development as an extension of the university’s core mandate.
In conceptualising this intervention, the university also seeks to advance its view that successful socio-economic development, as well as the pace thereof, must be founded on decisions that are scientifically sound. This requires a sizeable number of people who are highly committed and have the necessary skills to generate the scientific evidence supporting such decision-making processes, as well as people who are equally as committed and sufficiently skilled to use this evidence to produce tangible socio-economic advances.
While the afore-mentioned aims of HELSKA might be universal, they must also be responsive to the country’s socio-economic development priorities of redress, as well as the high expectations for accelerated personal development among previously disadvantaged persons. In this regard, the university has taken the position that there is a need for both redress and excellence.
What are HELSKA’s objectives?
HELSKA, through its various programmes, is an effective response to the need to upgrade the knowledge and skills of senior and influential leaders within communities and institutions, thus improving the quality of their work in terms of governance and management. In brief, HELSKA’s objectives are to:
- Train leaders in organisational and management skills;
- Capacitate and support young and influential leaders through ongoing mentorships;
- Strengthen the capacity of district officials in terms of monitoring and evaluation; and
- Mobilise leaders against poor service delivery.
How are HELSKA’s programmes structured?
HELSKA provides specially assisted leadership skills development opportunities through three interconnected programmes:
- General programme, which provides general leadership development through a seminar-formatted programme of activities and engagements.
- Stars of Academe and Research (SoAR) programme, which addresses the need to increase our national intellectual capital and which is specifically structured to address transformation in the field of science, engineering and technology (SET) and other scarce skills areas and to build capacity in critical areas (health sciences/engineering/social development/agriculture). The principle aim of this programme is to ensure an ongoing cohort of excellent academics to engage in teaching and research into the future. The programme also offers adequate support to young master’s and doctoral candidates, especially black and female graduates, who aspire to creatively contribute to teaching, research and innovation, as well as the diffusion and transfer of technologies and skills needed to enhance the university’s contribution to socio-economic development.
- Leadership in Education and Development (LEAD) programme, which is aimed at supporting the development of general and institutional leadership, focusing on the skills, competencies and cognitive development of leaders who can articulate a vision, develop and oversee the implementation of a series of linked strategies and tactics and, through a combination of people, resource and partnership development activities, enable the realisation of that vision. This programme provides for a combination of formal, semi-formal and informal interventions. Each successful applicant undergoes an assessment that will assist in identifying his or her leadership and developmental trajectory and on the basis of which suitable leadership interventions will be developed and/or sponsored.
What is the expected outcome of HELSKA?
On conclusion of the HELSKA project, the expected outcome at individual and university level will be a critical reflection on “leadership effectiveness behaviours and practices” among SoAR and LEAD fellows, thus encouraging future collaboration among fellows in view of enhancing the socio-economic development impact of scientific leadership, especially in the central region of South Africa.
Mr Tebs Ncokazi
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