Education Africa is a social-entrepreneur-driven project and was conceptualised in 1989 by James Urdang, the current Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Education Africa. James was fortunate to have been mentored by the late Walter Sisulu, the late Helen Suzman and the late Dr Aggrey Klaaste, former Editor-in-Chief of The Sowetan who became the organisation’s first chairman in 1992, when Education Africa was officially registered. Walter Sisulu, Helen Suzman and Dr Klaaste remained strong and active supporters of Education Africa and our projects until their passing.
Education Africa is a Non-Profit Organization which aims to assist disadvantaged South Africans in their quest to obtain a quality, relevant education in order to ensure that they are in a position to become global citizens and a competitive, productive element in the local job market. Education Africa aims for an educated nation, which in turn will lead to a progressive nation that is in a position to sustain economic growth.
Over the years, Education Africa has aligned itself with “striving to assist in re-establishing a culture of learning and teaching”, and more recently our guiding principles have been “Making real change Happen” by implementing “Poverty alleviation through Education”. The organization’s focus though remains the same – to make a meaningful contribution to the educational growth and development of previously disadvantaged communities. Education Africa’s motto is: Educate ∙ Equip ∙ Empower.
The organization’s focus is to break the cycle of poverty through educational interventions and providing educational opportunities for various age groups among South Africa’s disadvantaged citizens:
At the Early Childhood Development (ECD) level:
- Education Africa has a number of affiliated pre-schools where the young learners up to age 6 are taught the basic skills required to enable them to successfully integrate into the formal schooling system.
- Many of these pre-schools have in fact been constructed through Education Africa’s Social Architecture Project. To date the organization has constructed 15 pre-schools.
- Education Africa also – through its International Arts & Culture project – offers marimba (African Xylophone) lessons to these young learners.
At primary school level:
- Education Africa is very proud of the fact that it has sourced funding, founded and constructed Masibambane College in Orange Farm, a poverty-stricken township just south of Johannesburg. There are currently approximately 800 primary school learners at this school. Masibambane College today is a self-sustainable school with no intervention from Education Africa.
- In addition, the organization offers marimba training at various schools throughout the greater Johannesburg area. Research has revealed that one of the biggest educational challenges educational systems are facing is keeping school children occupied after school hours so that they stay off the streets. Due to a lack of resources and a low morale among the children we unfortunately find a high prevalence of teenage pregnancy, HIV Aids, drug abuse, crime, underage drinking etc. By offering them marimba lessons after school, Education Africa is able to constructively engage them in activities which are socially acceptable for boys and girls alike. In addition, playing the marimbas has been proved to enhance concentration skills; it works fine and gross motor skills; language skills and spelling is improved through singing and spelling games; both sides of the brain are being exercised equally and crossing of the midline becomes second nature. Learners who participate in Education Africa’s marimba classes are given the opportunity to perform at events within their communities. In addition they participate at the Education Africa International Marimba & Steelpan Festival (the largest festival of its kind in the world with around 2000 musicians of all ages participating annually), The Education Africa Sounds of Celebration Concert (a social cohesion project bringing together different communities to perform on stage. 2000 learners from disadvantaged communities are given the opportunity to come and see the concert. For many of these learners, this is the first time they have ever been in a theatre), and selected learners are given the opportunity, from time to time, to participate in International Arts & Culture tours.
- Through the Education Africa Edu-bike project, the organization has been able to reach tens of thousands of primary school learners (167 000 to date) throughout the country. This project aims to support in-classroom teaching. It is practical and inspiring, and covers the following learning areas: language, literacy and communication; mathematics and mathematical literacy; human and social sciences; natural sciences; technology; economic and management sciences; and life orientation (life skills). The books are being updated and further roll out is funding dependent.
At secondary school level:
- Masibambane College also has a high school. Again, this was founded and built by Education Africa who also sourced the funding for the school. Approximately 350 learners are currently enrolled at the High School.
- The South African Model United Nations (SAMUN) project is a true public private partnership that is run by Education Africa, in partnership with UNIC – Pretoria with technical support from other United Nations agencies in South Africa. It is unique in that it is the only Model UN programme in the world which is truly national as it is held annually in all 9 of South Africa’s provinces involving over 450 high schools. Another unique feature is that it is a twinning programme, bringing together resourced and under-resourced learners and educators to compete as a team. The social cohesion that learners experience, as well as the knowledge and skills they learn along the way, is truly inspirational and has motivated many young people to go on and achieve great things. The project culminates in taking a group of 12 high school learners to the United States annually to visit the UN and to participate in an International Model UN Conference. The Handbook which Education Africa has written to help learners prepare for the Model UN debates is a self-teaching sup[port tool and highly educational. Workshops are held in all nine Provinces, and teachers are able to use the knowledge gained at these workshops to teach the skills to other learners at the school.
- Education Africa has 9 Marimba Hubs and more recently the organization started to run Hubs from various Boys & Girls Clubs in Johannesburg.
- Through the Walter Sisulu Scholarship Fund started by Walter Sisulu and James Urdang, disadvantaged learners are being given the opportunity to obtain a quality and relevant education at some of South Africa’s top schools. 3 500 students have benefited from scholarships from this fund.
- In partnership with the Johannesburg Genocide & Holocaust Centre Education Africa offers and facilitates workshops for disadvantaged learners in the townships, to learn about the Holocaust and genocide that still affect the modern world and Africa.
A tertiary education level:
- Education Africa, with the UNISA Centre for Business Management, has developed two 1-year Certificate programmes which are run through the University of South Africa (UNISA).They are: The Programme in Business-focused Management; and The Programme in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. Both these programmes are being upgraded to be able to be taught through the use of tablets and online support, development of multi-choice questions and submissions of assignments. Roll out of this programme is expected to be reinstated in 2018 with new improvements.
- Scholarships and bursaries to the above programmes are available to outstanding, disadvantaged candidates through Education Africa’s Walter Sisulu Scholarship Fund.
Further education & training
- Through the Education Africa ECD project, a whole school training programme is offered for ECD practitioners. This programme involves a well-structured 18 months certified ECD training course supported by workshops, in-classroom training and in-classroom assessments. This programme gives caregivers the opportunity to enjoy a rewarding career while providing a sustainable learning environment that children can excel in and benefit from throughout their entire schooling.
- The SAMUN provincial workshops and handbooks empower teachers with the skills required to help their learners prepare for debates. New sections in the Handbook also help teachers keep South Africa’s heritage alive by providing a thorough review of the histories of Robben Island and the V&A Waterfront.
- Through the Edu-bike Africa workshops and handbooks the organization has provided training and teaching materials to educators.
- Through the marimba Hubs the organization trains talented players to become marimba teachers. Regular workshops and training sessions are held by the Education Africa marimba specialists.
Education Africa’s sustainable impact
It has always been Education Africa’s philosophy that it is not here to re-invent the wheel! Rather the organization focuses on bringing project partners on board so that their expertise can be harnessed for the ultimate benefit of the community. As such Education Africa is able to run its projects cost-effectively with a minimum number of staff and in some cases, a team of volunteers. This philosophy has ensured that Education Africa has long term credibility as an organization as well as the sustainable success to ensure its future. An example of how it strives to ensure a project’s sustainability can be seen in the Social Architecture project:
- First Education Africa partners with international universities to build pre-schools using sustainable materials;
- By resourcing caregivers in the ECD Programme, the organization ensures that the children at the pre-schools have the best possible education;
- These young learners then enter the formal schooling system being adequately prepared for the educational challenges ahead.
Accountability and transparency
Education Africa as an organisation has a very successful track record of delivery, accountability and transparency, and it is fortunate to have an international support infrastructure with independent registered offices currently in the US, UK, Austria and Germany. Registration is also pending in Canada. Furthermore, Education Africa is a Level 1 B-BBEE (Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment) participant, and in South Africa, it is a registered Not for Profit Company and Non-profit Organisation with Public Benefit Organisation status allowing for donor tax benefits. Transparency through financial and project reporting is ensured as follows:
- Education Africa’s Audited Financial Statements are available and open to all.
- Project financial reporting is carried out as per individual agreements with our donors.
- Donors may appoint an independent auditor (at their cost) to audit the funding which they have donated.
- Allocation audits on donor funding may also be requested at donor’s cost.
Governance Structures and Professional Partners
- Education Africa has an independent Board of Trustees in South Africa and in each registered international office.
- There is a Board of Directors
- Education Africa is registered and accredited as:
- Not for Profit Company (NPC) – Registration Number 1992/001394/08
- Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) – Registration Number 004-193NPO
- Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) – Registration Number 93000573T
- Level 1 B-BBEE Participant.
- The organization has capable professional service providers:
- Bankers: First National Bank
- Investment Funds: Investec
- Auditors: Ernst & Young
- Staff remuneration benchmarking: Deloitte
- Strategic review and oversight: Deloitte
- Legal Advisor: ENSafrica
An organisation with a dynamic future
Guided by Deloitte, Education Africa has developed and agreed future, ‘step-change’ strategies to enable it to have greater reach and effectiveness in addressing educational needs within and beyond South Africa’s borders. These strategies include:
- The re-enforcement of its South African based management and operational structures to accommodate recent growth and to even more effectively deliver appropriate projects on a sustainable basis.
- The well-structured expansion of the South African project footprint.
- The role out of selected South African education projects north of the border, into Africa, through the development of a social franchising model. Education Africa has a number of projects which are suited for this kind of development. This is a long term plan and is funding dependent.
Education Africa accolades
- In 1994 Education Africa received an award for its “Contribution to peace and to bring about a New South Africa” from the Hostels Peace Initiative.
- For the past decade, the Education Africa SAMUN team has consistently won the Best Small Delegation Award at International Model United Nations competitions.
- Education Africa and the SAMUN programme were awarded the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award by the United Nations Association of the National Capital. This award recognized programme excellence in furthering the aims of the United Nations.
- One of the marimba Hubs from the International Arts & Culture project, Phambili Marimba, was recently presented with the Golden Shield Award from the National Heritage Council of South Africa. The award recognizes best practice in promotion, preservation, conservation and/or interpretation of South Africa’s heritage.
Tracking how some of Education Africa’s beneficiaries have developed
The SAMUN programme has built a strong and influential bench of young thought leaders in South Africa, with many alumni of the programme going on to play an active role in business, politics, academia, the diplomatic corps and civil society. Alumni of the South African Model United Nations continually reflect on the impact of the programme on their careers, their awareness of the broader contextual environment that we operate in, and their individual leadership responsibilities in the country. As our country continues on its transitionary path, the role and voice of influential young people is becoming increasingly important. The SAMUN programme has proven to develop thousands of young people who play this critical role. Many of our Alumni continue with their involvement in SAMUN as they act as mentors to high school learners. (See testimonials below)
Types of international exchanges to leverage dreams and to envision possibilities between disadvantaged youth in South Africa and other nations
Through the SAMUN programme and the International Arts & Culture project, Education Africa has been able to give young South Africans the opportunity to travel and learn while interacting with youth from different countries and cultures. For many of these learners, these trips have been the first time that they have travelled in an aeroplane, and they have been truly life-changing. Education Africa is committed to ensure that these projects will continue to bring meaningful change to the lives of disadvantaged South Africans. Here are some testimonials:
“[SAMUN] has been and continues to be one of the highlights of my life. It has offered me the opportunity to work with young people from different backgrounds and from across the world. It has exposed me to a world I never imagined. I have come to understand the role South Africa plays in the global community and the dynamics of this community. A world of possibilities has opened up to me.” – Lesley Masibi – past participant of the Education Africa SAMUN programme who went on to intern at the Office of the Chairperson of the NYDA after winning the One Day Leader competition. He has also graduated with an Honours Degree in Chemical Engineering.
“SAMUN and Education Africa continue to inspire, motivate and change me. It is one of the single most rewarding and valuable experiences of my life and I am eternally grateful.’’– Juliette Morrow, SAMUN Alumni who is currently working as a specialist physician.
“Education Africa and SAMUN has made an immeasurable contribution into my life and personal growth… I trust that the programme will continue to touch the lives of many more young people in our country.” – Siphesihle Mahanjana, SAMUN Alumni.
“SAMUN is a great catalyst in shaping new leadership paradigms for young people.” Kenneth Diole, SAMUN Alumni, tutor and adjudicator, and opinion writer for Daily Maverick.
“The significance of a platform like the SAMUN debating competition cannot be overemphasized. We live complex lives in a complex and feisty South Africa. The role of dialogue and debate has therefore become essential to our democracy. As custodians and future leaders, our responsibility is an onerous one: We stand to inherit a legacy that is marked with challenges; and we have to occupy relevant spaces that serve to steer the country in the right direction. What makes the SAMUN debating competition an enriching and empowering experience is its ability to advance dialogue on critical international affairs and do this in a fun, fearless and exciting fashion that speaks to the youth of South Africa. That the programme has opened up a lot of opportunities for me goes without saying. In fact it has, in a way, informed my decision to pursue a career in the law. The SAMUN debating competition is an elevating experience. It’s more than just ‘debate’. Much more.” – Kgothatso Mampa, SAMUN Alumni, lawyer.
“Marimbas have changed my life! I cannot believe that I am going to London! I live in Reiger Park. People there are very poor. They don’t get opportunities like this in their lifetime. I am so excited and very grateful to Education Africa.” – Reiger Park primary school pupil who toured to the UK with Education Africa as part of our International Arts & Culture project.
It is common cause that Africa struggles with critical issues affecting the education of its school-age populace. Often poor levels of education are the result of a lack of infrastructure, poorly trained educators, lack of an early child development emphasis, teacher absenteeism, poor attendance by learners, lack of resources for primary school teaching, etc. This is also further challenged by the fact that often, learners come from dysfunctional homes and the parents/caregivers themselves have limited to no education to be able to assist the children. This results in many people being ‘stuck’ in poverty, and communities experiencing constantly increasing levels of unemployment. Without improved education little of significance in underprivileged communities can change.
Education Africa believes that it has the capability and responsibility to make a huge and lasting difference.
IMPACT THROUGH OUR FLAGSHIP PROJECTS
Education Africa’s projects have a proven track record of delivery and impact in South Africa. While our immediate goal is to expand the reach of our projects within South Africa, most of them have the potential to mirror these achievements across our borders. Although the current materials and methodology used have been produced locally for our South African market, they are easily replicable for the African continent. Education Africa believes that through the introduction of these products beyond our border and further afield into Africa, the organization will be able to contribute to the sustainable development of our continent. This, however, is all dependent on the availability of funding specifically earmarked for expansion into Africa.
Projects that are suitable for expansion into Africa are: Early Childhood Development (ECD) https://educationafrica.org/project/early-childhood-development/ ; South African Model United Nations (SAMUN) https://educationafrica.org/project/model-united-nations ; International Arts & Culture – Marimba Hubs https://educationafrica.org/project/international-arts-culture/ ; UNISA Certification Programmes https://educationafrica.org/project/unisa-certificate-programmes/ ; and Edu-bike Africa (plus three additional sets of learning and teaching workbooks addressing
EDUCATION – A KEY INTERVENTION FUNDAMENTAL TO GROWTH
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund both cite education as a key intervention which is fundamental to development and growth on the African continent. This is best summed up in The World Bank Group Education Strategy 2020 document, which states the following:
“An investment in education leads to the attainment of various development
achievements in the areas of health, agricultural, innovation, to infrastructure
construction and private sector growth. For developing countries to reap
these benefits fully—both by learning from the stock of global ideas
and through innovation—they need to unleash the potential of the human mind.
And there is no better tool for doing so than education.”
UNESCO backs this up in the document titled, Education and Culture in Africa’s quest for Development, which states:
“To reap the assumed benefits of globalisation…Africa needs its own critical mass
of persons who have mastered the skills necessary for success.”
Furthermore, according to Education for All by Alain Mingat and Carolyn Winter,
“Human capital—education and skills—is a critical weapon in the war against poverty.
If poor countries are to achieve faster economic growth—a necessary condition
for reducing poverty—they will need better-educated workforces.
Even a primary education can pay off handsomely. Investments in primary education
have been shown to reap higher returns—estimates range from 11 percent to
more than 30 percent—than investments in physical capital.
Investment in the education of girls yields especially high returns.”
It is clear that the development of Africa is dependent on human resources. Education is a fundamental human right and a precondition to sustainable economic development, economic growth and poverty reduction. As responsible citizens, both corporate and individual, we have a responsibility to address the issues of education being faced in South Africa and Africa.
A systemic change is required to transform education, with strong and co-ordinated interventions in the early years of children’s development – right through to tertiary education level.
Education Africa continues to fully support the decisions taken at The Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union which took place on 4 – 7 September 2006. At this conference the following were identified as areas of focus:
- Gender and culture
- Education management information systems
- Teacher development
- Tertiary education
- Technical and vocational education and training, including education in difficult situations
- Curriculum, and teaching and learning materials
- Quality management
Making real change Happen
Educate • Equip • Empower
Positively impacting education in South Africa and Africa is not a ‘nice thought’. It is an absolute necessity; a socio-economic imperative!
Education Africa is an experienced organisation with donor tax-efficient global structures that source funding for projects from various countries. The organization has the knowledge, proven track record, and dedication required to deliver this impact. Education Africa is proud of the fact that it has been able to initiate significant and enriching changes in the lives of so many of South Africa’s poor communities over the years.
REACH ENHANCED WITH EDUCATOR RESOURCING AND EMPOWERMENT
“A teacher affects eternity; he/she can never really tell where his/her influence stops.”
– Henry Adams
An important message is that by resourcing and empowering educators Education Africa has been able to positively influence many more learners over a shorter space of time.
Figure 1 shows an estimated number of learners, educators and schools that Education Africa has assisted since 2010. Some of the volatility in the 2013 – 2014 years was influenced by the lack of funding for programmes like SAMUN. Overall, the projects that have benefited learners (between 2010 – 2016) are summarised in Figure 2 below.
Figure 1: Direct project reach showing the impact by year (2010-2016)
However, the projects that have had the greatest impact / reach over the same time period are those where educators have been resourced and empowered to pass on core skills. These are projects like:
- SAMUN (South African Model United Nations),
- Edu-bike Africa,
- ECD (Early Childhood Development), and
- Marimba (African Xylophone).
The magnitude of the reach is shown in Figure 2 below. It is important to realise that the scales on the graph are different by a factor of 100 times for the left and right axis titles. The tall solid bar on the graph shows the influence those educators who have been on the SAMUN programme have on learners back in the school environment. What is key is that the concepts taught to these educators during the SAMUN process can be shared with learners that never got to attend SAMUN themselves.
Figure 2: Learners reached plus the impact of resourcing and empowering educators (2010-2016)
Note: scales on the graph are different by a factor of 100 times for the left and right axis titles.
For the major projects (shown in Figure 3 above) Education Africa has impacted the lives of around 1.2 million learners.