5 Lessons on Collaboration from Huntington Digital Learning Campus

On Tuesday 9th May our team received the keys to the new Huntington Digital Learning Campus, located in a rural village bordering the Kruger National Park.

We still have a way to go (electricity, computers and desks) but the building, and all the hope it represents, will be ready.

The project is a collaboration and “collaboration” is a word that we have been celebrating over the month of April for two reasons: (1) It is a value that, in the current global political climate, needs to be nourished and practiced by all; and (2) We wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to many of our friends and partners who collaborate with us on our mission to democratise access to quality education.

Here’s what we have learnt about collaboration over the last year:

1.     Be patient and follow the process

However excited we got about the project, we set a timeline that had clear mini-objectives and we stuck to those objectives. To a large extent this approach is inspired but a mantra that is often shared by one of our Trustees, Boyd Varty: “Know your truth, follow the process, be free of the outcome.”

2.     Listen carefully and with empathy

We tried to ensure that every partner, from funders to bricklayers, were heard and given a platform to voice their concerns. We did this by creating a building committee that included at least one representative of all stakeholders, including the community of Huntington village.

3.     Communicate regularly

Our building committee met twice per month and held a detailed meeting that discussed the project timeline, community questions, building challenges and processes that would be followed once the project was completed (e.g. recruitment of staff and students). Each meeting had a clear agenda, as would be expected, but it also opened with a meeting intention statement that reinforced the committees’ commitment to cooperative problem solving.

4.     Remember your MTP or Massively Transformative Purpose

At all our building committee meetings, our commitment to cooperative problem solving was underpinned by a reminder of our Massively Transformative Purpose: To create access to world-class and wonder-filled education for people living in rural South Africa.

5.     Trust as Much as You Can

None of us is perfect, but if we are going to move towards a more collaborative world, we must show a willingness to trust each other. Collaboration, relationships and growth cannot happen without trust.

Thank you to the More Community Trust, Hundzukani Primary School, the Mpumalanga Department of Education, the Huntington Community Development Forum, David and Evelyn White, Larry and Christy Hierholzer, Investec, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Sithole Restoration Services (SRS) for collaborating with us. A special thank you to Linky Nkuna for guiding this collaboration with such wisdom and grace, and to Abednego Khosa from Hundzukani for chairing the building committee.

We’re almost there!

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An photo of the early collaborators including the More Community Trust, Hunzukani Primary School in Huntington village and Good Work Foundation. This photo was taken on site in September 2016.

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Ryan James (GWF Head of Development), Kate Groch (GWF CEO) and Linky Nkuna (Head of Justicia Digital Learning Campus).

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Linky Nkuna, far left, with members of the Building Committee and Huntington Community Development Forum.

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The amazing building crew. All residents of Huntington village.

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Selfies are allowed! Robert Sithole (Director of SRS, building contractor) with Ryan James.

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A building committee meeting at Hundzukani Primary School.

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Recruiting the future digital facilitators of Huntington Digital Learning Campus at Hundzukani Primary School.

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The site of many more collaborations: Huntington Digital Learning Campus.

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