June 2021, Swellendam, Western Cape

A pioneering education leadership programme, which pairs principals from marginalised communities with experienced and retired principals from high performing schools, is promoting continuous improvement in this critical area of development.  This is the reason why BTE Renewables, through its Excelsior Wind Energy Facility, near Swellendam, has committed funding to this programme, in line with the company’s Community Investment strategy, which positions education as a cornerstone.

This project, the Principals Academy Trust (PAT), that the wind farm is funding, incorporates a 3-year mentoring and coaching programme, including a 1-year management training course from the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB). It will fund and directly benefit school principals from the local communities, including Mullersrus Primary School, Bontebok Primary School, and VRT Pitt Primary School, who will be mentored from 2021 to 2023.

“This programme is specifically designed to turn schools serving marginalised communities into centres of excellence by focusing on improving school leadership and teaching quality. This fits our ethos, as we believe that a strong and empowered leadership can affect all aspects of school management, and that this will positively impact the learning environment and learner results,” explained Libby Hirshon, Environment, Social and Governance Director for BTE Renewables.

Each principal is assigned a mentor from when they sign up, and there is a commitment from PAT to mentor the principal for a minimum period of three years. The programme also includes attendance at UCT’s GSB for the development course and workshops each term.

In their first or second year of mentorship, the principals will attend the UCT GSB for a purpose-designed short course management development programme (MDP). These contact sessions are 3 to 4 days long and are held in the school holidays. Topics include Systemic Thinking, Personal Mastery, Lean Business Thinking, and International Trends in Education. The course is designed to inspire principals and introduce a different way of thinking about their schools and education.

“Through my experience in life I found that change is inevitable. The difficulty with change is not the changing of things or the situation itself, but how people adapt to the challenge,” said Mr Allen Thompson, Principal at Mullersrus Primary School, speaking about the need to adapt school leadership structures and the importance of learning for personal and career growth.


BTE Renewables, formerly known as BioTherm Energy, has been operating in South Africa since 2003 and is positioned as a leading Pan-African renewable power developer with expertise in project development, financial, construction management and operations. The company is owned by Actis, the world’s leading emerging markets investor, following an acquisition in 2019.

Excelsior Wind Energy Facility is owned by BioTherm Energy (60%), Thebe Investment Corporation (37.5%) and a Local Community Trust (2.5%).

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