04 November 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
SPP-OM winners with HS and Howard Ndaba
Mr HS van der Walt (UFS SRP) with the headmasters of the two winning schools, Ms IM Marumo (Moroka Secondary) and Mr ME Morata (Ntemoseng Secondary), Mrs Andi Magadla, and Mr Howard Ndaba (Director: Communications, FSDoE).

“The foundation of any sustainable economic development is education. You empower people and provide them with the necessary skills and competencies to be active participants in our economy. This is even more important today, in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

With these words, Silas Sebiloane, Old Mutual Regional Manager: Free State, introduced a celebration on 29 October 2019 of the successes of the schools supported by Old Mutual and the collaborative Schools Partnership Projects (SPP) since 2013. This is why Old Mutual (OM) invests in interventions such as this partnership between the Free State Department of Education (FSDoE) and the UFS Social Responsibility Projects (SRP), which coordinates the SPP from its base on the university’s South Campus.

Phenomenal progress and achievements

Mr HS van der Walt, Head of the UFS SRP, gave feedback on the initial goals and actual accomplishments of the SPP. The goal set by Old Mutual was to ensure increases in bachelor matric passes in the township schools identified, especially focusing on improving outcomes in the subjects of Maths and Science. The nine schools performed exceptionally, and achieved well beyond what was expected of them. For example, one school increased their Grade 12 pass rate by a phenomenal 68,8%! (See document 2018 Matric Data from SPP).

Seven-year mandate ends

The investment from the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project (OMEFP) was mandated for a seven-year period from 2013 to 2019, which means the  project comes to a close in December this year. 

However, Kanyisa Diamond, project leader at OMEFP, says this does not mean that Old Mutual will stop investing in education. “What it means is that during the seven years, while we were investing in different initiatives , we were also learning – What are the challenges in education? How can we, as a business, continue to make a contribution, through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), by assisting to address some of those challenges?” 

She said by learning how to overcome challenges, OMEFP is able to reflect on the progress and renew their strategy for what Ms Diamond calls ‘a new journey’ with different focus areas.  We will announce our upcoming journey in due course and soon,” she said.

FSDoE ‘punching beyond their weight’

The FSDoE Director for Motheo District, Mr December Moloi, said: “The biggest mistake is to stop a project just when it starts performing. Renewing the project helps to start, not from ground zero, but from a level of performance. We are very excited to reflect and be able to renew this initiative.”

Director Moloi also said it is important to invest strategically in the Free State (see the box ‘Invest with the district that has the numbers’). “To make a huge impact, go to the district with over 205 000 learners and almost 10 000 teachers—go where the masses are, go to Motheo District! We are punching beyond our weight, a district on the rise to greatness. This is not a pipe dream; it is achievable in our lifetime. We count you, our partners, UFS and OM, as those who have helped prepare us for greatness.”

He said the strategic focus of the district has also been adjusted. In 2011, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu were identified as having the greatest need for intervention from the SPP. Today, however, the critical mass has shifted, the need is now in Mangaung township. He applauded Old Mutual for recognising the reality that a matric certificate gives learners a fighting chance in the South African economy. “Give them that chance; make an impact by investing in education in Mangaung. We are ready to partner with Old Mutual and the UFS to implement, expand, and replicate this project’s sustainability. Let us not be satisfied with the first harvest; it is nothing compared to what is still to come!”

Teachers and school management honoured

Part of the celebration was also recognising the exceptional response to the support given by the SPP from two of the nine SPP schools in Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu: Moroka and Ntemoseng Secondary Schools. Each of the schools received a cash prize of R10 000 from Old Mutual. A special certificate was also presented to Mrs Andi Magadla for her outstanding passion in teaching and for supporting the OMEFP's initiatives.

Research feeds training of new teachers

One of the goals of the ITP and Strategic Plan of the UFS is to increase the university’s contribution to local, regional, and global knowledge through research excellence. Kanyisa Diamond says Old Mutual believes in sharing the lessons they have garnered from this project through dialogue sessions and an online Knowledge Hub hosted by Trialogue. She said working with universities on subject content helps to inform the curriculum according to which new teachers are trained, thus improving outcomes for future generations of learners. She also commented that ‘monitoring and evaluation by universities is exceptional when it comes to the methodologies they use to track project performance.

‘Invest with the district that has the numbers’: Motheo stats
  • 205 000+ learners
  • Approx. 10 000 educators
  • The FS province has been repositioned in education as top in the country due to Motheo District’s contribution to the strategic efforts of the department
    • The MEC for Education in the Free State credited the SPP and the Internet Broadcast Project (IBP) for the dramatic impact both had on the improvement of matric results over the past two years (see the article UFS congratulates Free State on matric results).

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