Paul Harding, Chariman of the South African Quality Institute board TITLE: Creating Quality in South African Schools

Title: Creating Quality in South African Schools



Nelson Mandela saw education as a way to bring quality of life to disadvantaged millions of South Africans.  He inspired a nation to unshackle itself from an apartheid and colonial past. Of the crucial importance of education, Mandela stated:

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

The South African Quality Institute (SAQI) fully supports Mandela’s statement. That is one reason why SAQI is involved in spreading Quality principles, tools techniques and practices in schools across the country. In South Africa, about 10% of the schools are of first-world standards. They have excellent teaching resources and have extensive cultural and sporting facilities. Parents are desperate to send their children to such schools.

Sadly, for the overwhelming majority of children, the school system has denied them quality education. Twenty six years after its first-ever democratic elections, the majority of South African schools do not provide quality education.

However, in the midst of this education tragedy, there are corporations, individuals and organisations that believe in the significance of Mandela’s statement about education. They want to help. They know that if the school system can be improved on, the quality of life for the children has the potential to soar.


Quality in Education

The South African Quality Institute is ‘walking the talk’ of helping to improve the schools of the country by giving training courses and publishing a quarterly Quality Education Newsletter.

Whether you’re a company with your glitzy head office in New York or a poor school in a slum outside Cape Town, similar quality practices and principles should apply. Both the corporation and the school should be guided by a set of Values. The success or failure of the company or the school is largely dependent on the calibre of the Chief Executive Officer or school principal’s leadership.        

A starting point to improve South African schools has been the design of a Quality in Education model that will be discussed in this presentation.    



Paul Harding was born in the UK and has a toolmaking background. He immigrated to South Africa 39 years ago, initially to run the Nissan South Africa Tooling Division 

He then took over a Quality Management position at Nissan and has since worked in Quality Management for more than 34 years. After leaving Nissan South Africa as Head of Corporate Quality he joined the Board of the South African Quality Institute (SAQI) as a non-executive Director. He later took over the position as the SAQI Managing Director, a position he held for 12 years. He is currently the chairman of the SAQI board.

He is a Companion Member of the International Academy of Quality and also is the representative for Africa on the ASQ Technical committee for Organisational Excellence.

Paul holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial Administration from the University of Cape Town. He has published a number of papers on Quality Management, Leadership and Policy Deployment (Hoshin Kanri) and regularly speaks at International Quality Conferences. His paper on Dynamic capabilities: Top executive audits and hoshin kanri at Nissan South Africa, published by Emerald, has to date received 55 citations.

He has a particular interest in “Quality in Education” and has co-authored a White Paper for IAQ on “Inclusive Quality of Education” that he presented at the 2nd IAQ World Quality Forum in Bled, Slovenia.