Memezelo Secondary School in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, is the most recent public school in South Africa to partner with a well established private sector group.
Leading financial services group Alexander Forbes has adopted the school with desire to support and enhance the quality of its education and learning output. Alexander Forbes is going to share expertise and knowledge – covering anything from financial management to leadership skills – with Memezelo, with the objective of advancing administration and teaching at the school. The ultimate end goal to improve the school’s matric results.
Monetary investments into Memezelo is going to be made available down the road, said Alexander Forbes CEO Edward Kieswetter. For the moment the main objective is going to be to stabilise human capacity. To start with investments will go towards repairing the school’s hall and several classrooms, in addition a new computer laboratory and a library will be built. “We’ll start to look at building those over the next few months,” said Kieswetter.
Alexander Forbes carried out a security risk audit at the school, and discovered that safety measures should be bolstered. This, too, will undoubtedly be addressed.
Kieswetter has established a mentoring relationship with Memezelo principal Prince Maluleke, which will incorporate the transfer of management and leadership skills. The principal was invited and attended the Alexander Forbes’ leadership conference which was held in Cape Town in January 2011, where, he said, he learnt a great deal.
Management teams from both parties will in addition get together for training programmes, while teachers have been given training in personal finance management. “A financially healthy teacher is a productive teacher,” said Maluleke.
HIV/Aids training sessions for teachers are up and running, and will be carried out over 12 months.
The partnership is a direct response to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s involvement in Memezelo’s affairs. He adopted the school in January 2010 in order to assist and make improvements.
“I am positive that this commitment will go a long way when it comes to enhancing the quality of education in this school,” said Motlanthe, talking at the launch. “As a result of this partnership we will turn Memezelo into one of the best performing schools.”
Earlier known as one of Gauteng’s significantly more problematic schools, Memezelo is turning the tide on poor matric performance, deficiency of order and mismanagement. The school obtained a 83.3% matric pass rate last year.
Kieswetter said Alexander Forbes intends to sustain the relationship with Memezelo over several years to come. “It truly is a journey that will actually unfold.”
Bursaries for top performers
Alexander Forbes will also be awarding bursaries to Memezelo matriculants who successfully pass with flying colours. This announcement inspired the school’s 2011 Grade 12 pupils to study hard and score high marks.
Matric pupil Babuyile Ncube fancies her prospects of receiving the coveted bursary. An orphan dependent on her grandmother, she is fully aware of the fact that the bursary could very well be a life-changing opportunity.
“It’s up to me to take this opportunity. I need to work hard,” said Ncube. The teenager, who would like to enrol for a biotechnology degree, is confident of her examination prospects. “I have many chances in making it. I need the bursary.”
Another Grade 12 pupil, Constance Madonsela, said the bursary offer was motivational.
Principal Maluleke prompted his pupils to work hard. “Go get those As, they will take all of you to university,” he told the pupils.
Alexander Forbes will concentrate on training programmes and “making bursaries accessible to committed pupils who perform well”, stated Motlanthe.
A call to adopt schools
The government is positive that far more businesses will listen to its call to invest in public schools, quite a few that happen to be disadvantaged.
Motlanthe and basic education minister Angie Motshekga connected with 150 local business leaders in last November to talk about Business-Adopt-a-School initiatives. Businesses did make pledges to support these kinds of schemes, according to Motlanthe.
Alexander Forbes initiative is “one of the first of many that I am hoping will continue to follow from the private sector”, said Motlanthe. “We encourage others from the business sector to heed this example as part of their corporate social investment programmes.”
While the government was “acutely aware” that it is responsible for the achievement of quality primary education, it also requires assistance from businesses, said the deputy president.
“The government cannot do without businesses,” said Gauteng Legislature member Molebatsi Bopape, adding that the education department has done well in transforming the school into an environment conducive to learning.