Helping lower South Africa’s unemployment rate one student at a time

With the current unemployment rate at 27.2 percent, according to Statistics South Africa, the
number of South Africans actively seeking employment remains one of the biggest challenges our
country is facing.

This year will again see thousands of matriculants completing school, but not meeting the admission
requirements of attending a tertiary education facility. Some will be able to hone their skills at
Further Education and Training Colleges, which offer an alternative to traditional tertiary
institutions, and this is where corporate companies can play a major role by investing in the
development of students to become employable within their organisations.
One such institution that has taken the initiative to address the burden of unemployment is the Sparrow
FET College located in Sophiatown, Johannesburg. It offers students skills development programmes
that enable them with the tools to enter the formal job market or becoming self-employed

The college partners with reputable corporate companies who have identified skills shortages within their own organisations or industries and together they train the youth in much-needed skills that
will see them become employable within the organisations.
Each programme has been designed to deliver high-impact training in employable skills such as hospitality, automotive repair, welding and end-user computing.
All these SETA accredited courses are offered in partnership with industry representatives, who offer the relevant insight, work experience and sometimes tuition funding for learners who are unable to meet the financial demands of the training.

Over the last five years, one thousand, one hundred and eight students have graduated from
Sparrow FET College and 60-65% of these students have been placed into active employment
positions throughout the country.

Sparrow FET College is not only offering vocational training to its students and unlocking the door to
employment, but is also helping businesses achieve BEE compliance.

To find out more information about Sparrow FET College or how your business can get involved call
011 673 4419 or 011 482 1015


Minke Molenaar

We hear from Minke Molenaar, a social worker from the Netherlands who has been
volunteering at Sparrow Foundation School to support the grade 7s with Social
Development Class. Minke specialises in counselling families with children who have
developmental, learning and behaviour problems.

“Last year, I started at Sparrow School delivering Social Skills Workshops with grade
6. This developed into a ‘social development programme’ for all students in grade 7,
with a focus on social, and executive skills. Social skills are the skills people use in
contact with others, in contrast, executive skills are the skills that help people to get
things done; both are important skills that enable Sparrow students to succeed in
learning tasks and social life.


Last term the learners worked on topics such as:
Expressing emotions,
Problem solving and planning.

“My focus in working with the students is to create a positive environment and offer
them opportunities to succeed based on their needs and where they are at now. In
class, we work in small groups to give the students the opportunity to express
themselves, have group discussions and work together as a team during fun,
interactive, hands-on activities. “

“For example, ‘The Marshmallow challenge’ was an activity, where the students had
to show their planning, problem solving and teamwork skills by build a tower, using
only 20 sticks of spaghetti, one piece of string, one piece of tape and two
marshmallows. This was a challenging, but fun activity for the learners!’

“As grade 7 learners are nearing to the end of their time at the Foundation School,
we are focusing this term on planning, organizational skills, time management and
learning skills to prepare the students for their transition to the next school level.”

Thank you Minke for all your great work at Sparrow!

If you would like to volunteer at Sparrow, then we would love to hear from you. We
have lots of volunteer opportunities from Practical one day projects to reading once a
week with our learners to support literacy at Sparrow. Email to find out


Sparrow Athletes shine in competitions around Johannesburg

Sparrow Foundation School had a busy term, travelling all over Johannesburg
to take part in school athletic competitions. The events took place at Crawford
School, Lonehill (1st August); Bryneven School, Bryanston (15th August and
22nd August) and Fairways School, Illovo (5 th September).

The teachers also enjoyed the competitions, as they got to witness the
children from Sparrow gaining confidence and having fun whilst participating in various athletic events.

This was a great opportunity for Sparrow learners to be exposed to different schools and facilities in Johannesburg.

Although all Sparrow children were amazing in the races, Sparrow recognised two talented leaners: Ishobalam Sithole who came second in all 80M sprints in all of the different competitions, and Bryan Molemogi, who came first in all of the middle distance runs.

Thank you to Mr Thabiso for giving the Sparrow learners the opportunity to
visit all the different schools in Johannesburg for Athletics competitions.

If you would like to support our learner’s education, then we would love to hear from you! Take part in our Educate-A-Child Programme and sponsor a class at R1 500 per month, or a child’s education for as little as R100 per month. By becoming involved with the Educate-A-Child programme, you can help us to improve the education and training of disempowered youth in South Africa,
contributing to the larger objective of uplifting the country’s economy and the wellbeing of those marginalised in our society.


Grade 2 children at Sparrow Schools participate in the Eco Brick Campaign.

Sparrow Schools’ learners took part in a sustainability project to teach children
about the importance of waste and recycling through Eco Bricks…

You may be thinking…
‘What on earth is an ‘Eco Brick’?!

An Eco Brick is an empty plastic bottle that is packed tightly with non-recyclable materials, primarily plastic, until it becomes a strong, durable building block. This is a great way for up-cycling building materials cheaply and has been used to create schools, nurseries and homes in the community.


Recycling is one of the best ways to have a positive impact in the world in which we live in. The amount of waste we are using is increasing. This campaign is an important issue globally, not just in South Africa. Research claims that by 2050, there will be more plastic straws in the ocean than fish.

Sparrow’s Eco Brick campaign took place throughout August, whereby children collected plastic bottles and filled them with non-biodegradable plastic waste.


The Eco Brick project was a wonderful way to teach children about recycling and
how to use waste for a good cause. The children were amazed that it could be
used to build a house!

Amy van der Berg, Sparrow Schools’ Research and Proposal Developer, headed the project to highlight the importance of recycling at Sparrow.
“We must teach our children the value of leaving things in a better condition than when they found them.”

Thank you to all of the children who were involved in collecting plastic bottles to create eco bricks and supporting building materials for people in need.


If you would like to read more about how Sparrow Schools is also helping other
charities, read last week’s blog:

Sparrow supports local charities in Johannesburg


Sparrow supports local charities in Johannesburg

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what
difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the
significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela

Last month, Sparrow Schools Educational Trust was blessed with support from various companies and individuals contributing their 67 minutes and more on Mandela Day, to celebrate his 100 th birthday (read the story here). This month, Sparrow decided to also do what they can to pay it forward by giving back to the community and donating 100 soccer balls to various charities around Johannesburg. These charities included: Stitches for Africa, Kindness Like Confetti, Slovo Centre of Excellence and Feed Thy Kids.


Jackie Gallagher, founder of Sparrow Schools has instilled the ethos of collaboration and helping others, not just at Sparrow, but local charities in the area, so that “charities support charities” through collaboration and support.

“On behalf of the charity organisations that I support, thank you so much for the soccer balls that were donated,” said Teresa Richards, charity consultant and founder of Charity Fusion.

If you would like to celebrate the spirit of Mandela Day throughout the year with Sparrow, then get in touch! There are many ways you can support and change the lives of children with learning difficulties, including volunteering or signing up to our ‘Educate A Child’ programme.


“Giving is the highest expression of potency…Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness.” Erich Fromm



Sparrow’s Founder, Jackie Gallagher, nominated for Top Businesswoman of the Year Award

National Women’s Day, celebrated annually on the 9th of August in South Africa,
was particularly special for Sparrow Schools, as Jackie Gallagher, Founder and
General Manager of Sparrow Schools Educational Trust received the news of
being a nominated as a finalist for Standard Bank Top Businesswoman of the
Year Award.

Jackie Gallagher founded Sparrow Schools almost 30 years ago out of a need
expressed by a circle of friends and acquaintances for help with extra lessons
and assistance for their children.  A newly qualified teacher, with a love for fixing
things, she established Sparrow Schools Educational Trust, with the aim of
helping learners with learning disabilities reach their full potential.


Aside from her love of education and empowerment, Jackie is passionate about
marketing and networking, and uses these passions to drive funding and
corporate partnerships for Sparrow Schools.   She says of herself that she is a
dreamer at heart, and loves to come up with crazy ideas.

South Africa’s premier gender empowerment awards happens every year,
whereby a full-time team of researchers assesses thousands of individuals
against strict transformation and performance criteria. Sparrow is delighted to
be nominated and to celebrate gender empowerment, not just on Women’s Day,
but also throughout the year.


Big Hope 2: Young Leaders Congress

Liverpool Hope University’s Relationship with Sparrow

We have a partnership through the student exchange programme. Students have come and worked at Sparrow and assisted with programmes at the school. The different areas where students have assisted are: teaching one on one maths to our learners, assisting with teaching English in small groups, helped with sport, and maintenance projects around the school. We would like to grow the partnership to one of collaboration where the
student is learning as well as teaching and assisting Sparrow. Dr Penny Haughan, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Student Life and Learning at Liverpool Hope University, says “The Big Hope 2 programme has been designed to be an exciting, thought-provoking and insightful learning experience. A host of inspirational speakers provide unique opportunities to hear from leading global influences who are at the forefront of national and international challenges. Big Hope 2 allows for the opportunity to work as part of a team in learning tracks for an in depth experience of some of the global challenges addressed by the Congress.”


”To begin with, I must say it is quite difficult to sum up my time and experience during Big Hope as there is so much to share on. It was emotionally gripping and thought provoking. Big Hope 2 was a world class and humanising experience that I will always keep close to my heart and I aim to share my renewed knowledge about different cultures, about society and the movement of creating possibilities to make a better tomorrow. There were many delegates from around the word who joined the Congress, to name a few: India, Rwanda, Uganda, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Palestine, Brazil, America”, says Lindsay Stephen, the deputy principal of Sparrow Foundation School. Big Hope 2 was created by LHU in celebration of Liverpool being chosen as Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2008.. Four key topics were addressed throughout the event: freedom, conflict, equality and change. Different key note speakers, discussions and learning tracks were part of the daily programme and the following topics were discussed: Migration, Faith, Innovation, Education, Sport, Communication, Work and business, Community, Politics, Culture and the Environment.

The opening ceremony took place at Liverpool Cathedral.. Lindsay says, “I was honoured to be asked to carry the South African flag along with other delegates representing their country – it was an emotional and proud
moment for everyone. One of the keynote speakers during the openingceremony was Father Michael Lapsley, who was part of the liberation movement during Apartheid and spoke about a “dream”, a dream for a better future for all. His speech was inter-spaced by a song of John Lennon – Imagine, and it was simply beautiful. I was truly moved by Father Lapsley’s speech and felt privileged to be able to listen and learn from a man who moved and thrived against oppressive regimes. Father Michael continues today with his NGO, the Institute for Healing of Memories. I remember sitting in the Cathedral with tears in my eyes and goosebumps all over- and I know I wasn’t the only one. Such compassion that was felt in the Cathedral created a movement of love and understanding as we began the Big Hope 2 journey and that is what Big Hope 2 is all about!”

“Another empowering experience for me was the honour of being selected to personally meet and have tea with the Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensbury, who was also one of the keynote speakers at the opening ceremony, as well as His Excellency Dasho Karma Ura. The Baroness Cox is the Chief Executive of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust and I utterly adored her integrity and honour. The Baroness Cox spoke about “enthusiasm” for the lost, the least and the last. His Excellency Karma Ura is President of The Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research (Gross National Happiness where wealth is determined by happiness), a profound man with wisdom and inner-peace. Towards the end of my journey at Big Hope 2, I was asked by Dr Penny Haughan (Pro Vice-Chancellor Student Life and Learning, Liverpool Hope University) to assist her in a radio interview with BBC Radio Merseyside (which was a first for me to be live on radio- eeek!). I was asked to share about Big Hope 2 on behalf of the delegates attending; a wonderful experience it was and I was proud to represent South Africa and of course, Sparrow Schools Educational Trust.” Lindsay continues, “I have met extraordinary people during my time at Big Hope 2. Big Hope proved that although we are from different countries, we all face the same or similar challenges and issues and it made us realise we are not alone in the world; we are all . I hope to continue my new friendships with the people who have shaped my thoughts and who have inspired me to be part of the change. The Congress brings hope to the future with a purpose and a cause to make the world a better place for all to live in and I’m blessed to have been part of this movement.”


Celebrating 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela with 100 volunteers at Sparrow Schools.

Sparrow Schools Educational Trust were delighted to welcome volunteers from different organisations and companies on Wednesday 18th July through to the 20th July, which marked a special Nelson Mandela Day, celebrating 100 years since his birth.

Every year, people volunteer 67 minutes of their time serving a charity or local community project in the name of Mandela, who gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. This year was an occasion to reflect on Madiba’s life and legacy, and to follow his call to “make of the world a better place.”
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”– Nelson Mandela


Volunteers from FoodServ, Standard Bank, Hollard Insurance, Nambikkai Foundation, ABSA, Lombard Insurance, Piza e Vino, Megarom, DUO Marketing, Hellmann and MLC, spent time at Sparrow, supporting various projects from donating money to supply the Tuck shop with equipment, painting the sick room, to revamping the teaching kitchen and gardening to make the entrance to the school a welcoming place for Sparrow children to be. Volunteering on Mandela Day did not stop with the companies.








Children of Sparrow Schools Educational Trust also got involved in giving back to the community and partaking in an exciting environmental project to make Eco Bricks. An Eco-brick is a plastic bottle filled up with non-biological waste to create a reusable building block, which will be donated to build schools and homes.

If your company would like to donate time or funding to support the education of
disadvantaged children with learning difficulties, then we would love to hear
from you! If you wish to get involved in supporting Sparrow’s EcoBrick project please contact Amy:

Sparrow Schools would like to take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers
on Mandela Day 2018.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela


MySchool R1 Million VOTE4CHARITY Challenge

Sparrow Schools Educational Trust supports leaner’s who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and who experience various barriers to learning, and our aim is to assist them to thrive in our economy and society.

In Gauteng alone, over 15% of children of school-going age are unable to attend school because they cannot afford to pay school fees. Vision 2030 of the National Development Plan (NDP) explicitly acknowledges the need to equip individuals with a variety of capabilities so that they can pursue a range of opportunities and lead a more fulfilling life. Sparrow Schools Educational Trust wants to contribute to the 2030 plan by implementing these ideals through our Educate A Child initiative.

If you are a MySchool Supporter please log in and vote for Sparrows, Schools – Sophiatown and help us raise funds for our organisation to Educate A Child on 

Alternatively please sign up today (its quick & easy) to support us and vote.

Sponsoring a child has benefits that go beyond simply providing education to a child. Your sponsorship is used to keep the school fees affordable for the learners, many of whom are from places of safety, child-headed households or disadvantaged homes where parents cannot afford the specialised care their children need.

 #Vote4Charity #MakeADifference

You can’t teach a hungry child

Nutrition is one of the three major factors that impact a child’s development and there is an undeniably strong relationship between nutrition, health and learning.  With research studies showing that nutrition in a child’s early years are linked to their health and academic performance; Sparrow Schools understands the importance of nutrition and the effect it has on our learner’s academic performance. Keeping this in mind, with the support of Nambikkai we have been able to provide nutritious meals to our learners at the Foundation School who are unable, due to socio-economic reasons, to access this basic need, we have now expanded this program to our Combined Technical Skills School with the generous further support of Nambikkai.

Second to nutrition, one of the main reasons of introducing the feeding scheme to our school was due to the fact that many of our children come from disadvantaged homes and are forced to go to school hungry. Based on recent statistics, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in 2017 over 1.5 billion students face food shortages at school, a shocking statistic as food is one of the most basic needs. With the continued support with Nambikkai, we at Sparrow thrive to alleviate this issue and will continue to provide meals to our children so that they are able to focus on their academics and school work.