WCED Director named as one of M&G’s “Powerful women” | Western Cape Education Department
WCED Director named as one of M&G’s “Powerful women”

WCED Director named as one of M&G’s “Powerful women”

9 September 2020

Every year for Women’s Month, the Mail & Guardian (M&G) invites the public to nominate “an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things” for inclusion in their annual Women Changing South Africa supplement.

We are extremely proud that Karen Dudley, who heads the Western Cape Education Department’s Curriculum Directorate for Grades R – 9, has been named as one of 50 women on the publication’s list of powerful women for 2020.

Dudley’s can-do attitude has ensured her spot on this exclusive list of South African women who are excelling in their chosen fields and inspire and motivate other women to prosper and make a positive impact in the world.

More than 600 nominations were received for the coveted 50 spots on the list of pioneering women. Dudley was one of the winners in the Governing Woman category. The other categories are the Networking Woman, the Healing Woman, the Guiding Woman and the Business Woman.

M&G wrote that “although no person is perfect, what makes Dudley stand out is her ability to acknowledge her mistakes and work to improve herself. She is also a team player.” 

In an interview with the publication, Dudley said: “It’s not only passion that drives me to excel but, more importantly, it is my purpose that drives me the most. Purpose for me is the strongest connection to the soul. When someone says to me ‘you can’t’, I make sure I upskill myself and those around me and I say ‘go for it’.”

Dudley has served education for more than three decades in numerous capacities. 

Prior to her appointment as director, she was the head of curriculum in the Metro Central Education District. She said she was humbled and very proud to lead the General Education and Training Curriculum team. Her vision is to constantly focus on the improvement of learning and teaching environments and to build strong and respectful relationships of trust and support.

Dudley enjoys sport, especially volleyball, and represented South African at international sporting events.

Some of the highlights of her career include being invited to a personal dinner with former President Nelson Mandela, with whom she shares a birthday, for exemplary work in under-privileged communities. “It was one of the highest accolades to sit beside him and have dinner with an icon!” 

Dudley was awarded an International bursary in 2005 to study Languages across the Curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania. On return to South Africa, she and other colleagues wrote the course for the South African context at the University of KwaZulu-Natal for teachers and subject advisers. She has also represented the WCED on other national and international platforms such as the Global Teachers Awards in Dubai and the Batho Pele Awards.

She added that throughout the process of being nominated, she realised just how much her colleagues, friends and family support her. 

“The entire experience has been a big confidence booster and has demonstrated to me how powerful it can be to stop and recognise the great work going on all around. In my office and in my field, I’m surrounded by intelligent, strong, talented women.  This nomination highlights the very qualities I work towards to consistently display in my career. I plan to use this kind of recognition to inspire and encourage other women professionals to communicate, collaborate and conquer for the common good. After this experience, I am inspired to find ways to recognize the work of others around me.”

The list of all the 2020 winners and their stories are available here: https://powerfulwomen.mg.co.za/karen-dudley-2020/