SA companies urged to ‘Adopt-a-School’

3 October 2011

More than four hundred community members braved the rainy weather to gather at the Caley Sports Ground in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape for the national launch of the Accord on Basic Education and Partnerships with Schools campaign on Sunday.

Run by the Department of Basic Education, the National Economic Development and Labour Council, and Brand South Africa, the campaign encourages businesses to “adopt” schools and donate educational facilities to them.

Brand South Africa’s director of stakeholder relations, Iggy Sathakge, said the launch came ahead of a national roll-out of the Adopt-a-School campaign, with the aim of delivering quality education to all underdeveloped schools.

“The premise of the campaign is to build requisite skills at primary level education,” said Sathakge, after acknowledging that the nation’s skills level was low and at risk of staying that way.

On 13 July, an accord was signed by businesses, labour and the government as a pledge to ensure that every South African child was in a classroom and every teacher was teaching.

A number of companies have already committed themselves to the campaign, including banking group Absa, the Industrial Development Corporation and food manufacturer Nestle, which is providing bursaries to pupils.

Sathakge said the majority of citizens lacked a strong educational foundation, which was supposed to have been acquired at primary school level. As a result, when they got to university, they tended to drop out.

He added that it was not just up to teachers to ensure children were educated but that all members of communities, including churches, families and police, should be accountable as well.

Initial focus on three provinces

The launch took place in Butterworth as the town was recognised as a hotspot for dysfunctional schools.

Sathakge said the campaign’s initial roll-out would take place in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

“The challenge is greater in these three provinces, and special attention will be given to schools in these areas,” he said, noting that the matric pass rate had been dropping in these regions in recent years.

He added that there would be no specific timeline for the campaign and that it would operate for as long as necessary to reach the objective of providing quality education.

As a means to monitor progress, Sathakge said that partners would report regularly on the roles each business had played.

He added that a website would launch within the next month that would monitor the role businesses were playing in their chosen schools.

Key points of the accord

According to the recently signed accord, organised labour, business and community organisations must aim to adopt between 100 and 200 schools by the end of 2011. Depending on this year’s success, the programme will be expanded to target between 500 and 1 000 schools in 2012.

The accord further states that businesses must adopt schools that are performing poorly and subsequently implement whole school development programmes.

“If a business adopts a school, they may conduct an analysis of what a school requires and then provide what is needed,” said Sathakge.

The accord also states that the parties involved in the Adopt-a-School campaign will agree to work together to change the mindset of teachers, pupils and parents to rebuild the part of the education system that is dysfunctional.

It concludes by saying that the campaign aims to produce fully functional schools with the so-called Triple T foundations of a good institute. These include effective leadership and management; teachers arriving in class on time and teaching for the full period; and making teaching materials available.

Demanding accountability

Congress of South African Trade Unions secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi roused the crowd with a passionate speech on the ills of the current education system.

“This campaign will demand accountability. Those who have mismanaged the education system must be dismissed,” he said to a cheering crowd.

He said that communities must adopt a zero tolerance approach towards lazy teachers and those who used female pupils as sexual objects.

Vavi emphasised the lack of progress made in provinces like the Eastern Cape and said the crisis manifested profoundly in this province because the Department of Education was dysfunctional.

He also said that, countrywide, most children from poor backgrounds were stuck in dysfunctional schools, adding that: “60% of those schools do not have laboratories and 60% of pupils are pushed out of the education system before they reach grade 12.”

MediaClubSouthAfrica.com reporter – get free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service.