Upliftment and Empowerment Through Education
When we ponder on the past lack of educational opportunities for some of our South African youths, it’s clear that we have so much to celebrate. There are many inspiring stories of overcoming obstacles, restoration and success. The Transnet Foundation has its own education success story, which is leading to many happy endings. Through its Education Portfolio, the Foundation runs two programmes that are building bridges and bright futures for our youth. While one programme provides extensive training and support for teachers; the other enables promising orphaned children to get a solid education – and a healthy dose of hope.
A Holistic Approach to Changing Education for The Better
In 2009 the Department of Basic Education identified certain key drivers in improving educational outcomes. These drivers highlighted the roles of both teachers and learners in creating an educational environment that truly empowers. Transnet’s imperative and strategy underscores this approach. Teachers form the foundation of a high quality education system. In fact, well-trained teachers who have the necessary skills, knowledge and resources at their disposal can improve learner performance.
On the other hand, learners must be encouraged and supported in their journey and be given the right opportunities that can help them fulfil their potential. Through two programmes run by the Transnet Foundation, Transnet is making a tangible difference to the quality of education for both teachers and learners.
Targeted Teacher Training
The Teacher Development Programme is a programme implemented at selected schools. Targeted schools are selected in partnership with the relevant provincial Department of Education according to the following criteria:
- A culture of strong leadership and discipline;
- Commitment to teaching and learning;
- Good learner attendance record and consistent performance; and
- Willingness of the school community to be part of the programme.
The Transnet Foundation then facilitates, sponsors and monitors the implementation of the programme, which includes teacher training and development (the main focus), as well as providing resources and learner support.
Facts and Figures
Altogether, 50 Maths, Science and English teachers from 18 schools adopted by the Transnet Foundation are benefitting from classroom support, offered by highly experienced tutors.
- The tutors visit the schools at least four times a month to guide and support the teachers.
- Five thousand learners benefit from the holiday revision programmes funded by the Transnet Foundation.
- Learners from the 18 schools can apply for bursaries offered by Transnet.
- Currently 10 student teachers are benefitting from placement in top performing schools for experiential learning.
Angie Motshekga, Basic Education Minister
“I am really grateful and very appreciative for corporates that understand the difficulties and challenges in our societies. It’s just that one child that you save, that can make a world of difference to that child and the community, but also to us as a nation. So, to Transnet as a company, I am really grateful for the work they are doing for the orphans.”
Extensive Support for Schools
Even though the main focus of the Teacher Development Programme is to train and equip teachers, the objectives reach beyond that to provide broad support to the selected schools. The programme consists of the following elements:
- Provide the 18 schools with resources to enhance their teaching ability.
- Offer classroom support to the teachers as a practical way of helping them enhance their teaching methodology.
- Place student teachers at private schools as interns, to ensure an integrated approach to theory and practice. (more on this initiative below.)
- Identify and respond to resource needs of the target schools in general – for example, providing them with dictionaries, scientific calculators and IT equipment.
- The 18 schools on the programme received mobile Science kits, and Science teachers received training on the use of the kits.
- Conduct holiday programmes for the learners to help improve their performance.
- Track learner performance to ensure continuous improvement.
Hands-on Experience for Student Teachers
The Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) selected 10 student teachers for the ISASA Teacher Internship Programme. The education authority ETDP SETA pays for the registration and tuition of these students at UNISA. The Transnet Foundation then funds their placement in private schools, as well as the academic enrichment programmes that provide extra support and mentoring to the teachers. The selected students’ academic performance is tracked throughout their course to ensure that they consistently meet top standards.
Giving Orphaned Youth a Bright Future
The Orphaned Youth Education Programme speaks to the learner side of the education cycle. Ten orphaned youths from KwaZulu-Natal, North West Province and Mpumalanga were selected in 2012 for a seven-year programme. Through the programme the Transnet Foundation sponsors their schooling in top performing schools from grades 10 to 12 – including boarding fees, school amenities, clothing and a monthly allowance – as well as their tertiary education at universities throughout South Africa. The orphans also attend enrichment camps as additional support to help them cope with their studies. The selection process has started, to enrol for ten more youths. The new group will be assisted from Grade 8 until they complete their university education.
The selection process entails the following:
- Investigation of the learners’ academic results and school attendance records,
- Maths, Science and critical thinking ability tests,
- One-on-one interviews with the learners, and
- Testimonials from the learners’ teachers.
To ensure a fair selection process, the learners’ test scripts are sent to reputable independent moderators.
Orphaned Youth Education Programme Lifecycle
Sandisiwe Mdluli (15), one of the selected learners for the Orphaned Youth Education Programme
“We learnt that success is not something that’s just given to you on a silver platter, you need to do your part as well. We were reminded of how appreciative we must be for every little thing we have because, there are many people who are not as fortunate as we are. The programme turned out to be so much more than I expected.”
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