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The School


The mission of the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, based at the University of Cape Town (UCT), is to promote and inspire strategic public leadership in Africa. As a multi-disciplinary centre, the School and its offerings are designed to make public service at the highest levels of leadership an aspiration for the most talented of the community’s rising generation. 

About Us

The Mandela School promotes the development of strategic public leadership, including a strong emphasis on public sector reform, accountability and trust in governance. 
The Mandela School provides professional and academic training and forums for discussion for senior public officials and those engaged in public policy in South Africa, other African countries and beyond. 

The School trains top graduates to prepare them for public leadership positions and provides executive training for senior managers and elected office bearers. Some of its programmes are also designed for international organisations, non-profit organisations, think-tanks and the private sector.
One of the School’s core activities is bringing together policy makers, experts and other leaders in society around key policy issues. The centrepiece of this effort is the Building Bridges programme which brings together established and rising leaders from all over Africa to engage with intractable problems with the view to establishing new networks of expertise and trust.

We also engage in original research and generate evidence-based policy advice on critical development policy and practice challenges in Africa.  In doing so, the School acts as a cross-cutting hub, bringing together and building on the academic resources of different faculties at the University of Cape Town, as well as those of local and international partners.


The Mandela School aims to build an esprit de corps amongst leaders in South Africa and Africa more broadly, and to promote peer networks and linkages between leaders in government and in other fields such as academia, business, civil society and the arts. There are four main components to the School’s activities: 

  • A professional Master's in Development Policy and Practice;
  • Executive short courses designed for public leaders and officials, international and national non-profit organisations, think tanks and the private sector;
  • The Building Bridges programme which brings together established and emerging public leaders, policymakers and experts from across Africa on key policy issues;
  • A research centre on governance and development.