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New leadership for EDU

- Kemantha Govender

The Wits School of Governance (WSG) recognises the importance of short courses in improving practice within the public sectors in Africa.

The Executive Development Unit (EDU) at WSG offers a wide range of specialised and flexible courses in specific management areas including: development, housing, public and development finance, public and development management, crime and policing, humanitarian assistance, social security, defence and peacekeeping, policy, governance, leadership and monitoring and evaluation.

“Short courses are designed to improve peoples’ abilities to get the work done. We assist by providing a conceptual understanding and problem-solving skills which are always directed to improving practice. We are striving to make an impact in governance, in particular in the area of government and on other actors in the governance arena,” says newly appointed Head of EDU, Adjunct Professor Trevor Fowler.

Fowler says the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 has certain targets, and to achieve these targets, there has to be a shift that happens in society and in the way governance is managed. 

“We will be looking at how we get government to meet its targets in concert with society, meaning assisting government to reach consensus with society and stakeholders. We have started discussions with the South African Local Government Association, for example, to understand goals set out for municipal government. Then, we are able to enhance the design of our courses, develop monitoring systems, in collaboration with various role players in society to achieve the goals in the NDP and the Constitution,” explains Fowler.

The EDU office has a long history of providing education to people to improve their abilities to achieve excellence and is able to design programmes specifically for particular types of practice that people have.

“We will look at the requirements; do an analysis based on research including global best practices and compile findings. Then, we combine theory with practice in the workplaces or institutions where participants work daily. The end result are short courses directly focused on learning and developing best practice based on the work done on a day to day basis,” explains Fowler.

The former Johannesburg City Manager says this role is important to him because all his previous positions have been about transforming society to create a better life, equity, justice, an end to poverty and inequality.  “Working with EDU means that we are able to work with people who are in the business of transforming society,” says Fowler.

Fowler has more than forty years of experience in civil engineering research, design, construction, project management, political and administrative leadership, management and negotiations, governance, community, national and international stakeholder management, water supply planning and development. He has held several high profile positions. He was the Chief Operations Officer (Deputy Head) and the Acting Director General (Head) of The Presidency of South Africa serving under formers Presidents Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma.