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.



Charities Aid Foundation South Africa

Recently, Sparrow Schools Educational Trust received an invitation to a Meet and Greet event with the Charities Aid Foundation of Southern Africa (CAFSA), in order to connect with like-minded individuals within the nonprofit sector. It was an exciting opportunity to learn more about CAFSA and the work they do, as well as to be able to meet different people with a similar vision to impact lives and make a difference in South Africa.

The aim of this event was to engage with CAFSA in a conversation about how we can share ideas and collaborate, as collaboration is a vital tool in building a sustainable and impactful change in South Africa. Whether collaboration is with corporates, CSI teams, individuals, government or other organisations within the nonprofit sector, ultimately we all have the same social justice mindset, and the vision to improve our country.

As part of the conversation, CAFSA has asked us to answer a few VOX pop up questions to be used in their social media and marketing. These questions were focused on social justice, and we wish to share our answers with our audience:

Why do you think a strong civil society is so important in South Africa?A strong civil society also allows us the platform in which people and organisations are able to advocate for the things they believe in and to solve problems in their communities. We believe that transformation for South Africa begins with its people, individuals, and communities. If we all believe in the same positive vision for the future then as a country we can do great things together. We believe a strong civil society is for a number of reasons, specifically

as an NPO where the non-government and non-profit organisation space has been a huge support in building up the economy. Based on a nonprofit statistical approach since 2017 there were 120 227 compliant NPIs operating in South Africa last year, that is a large number of compliant non-governmental organisations and institutions that were built for the sole purpose of some sort of social justice scheme they wish to support.

What more would you like to see action in order for us to achieve a stronger civil society? We need to support organisations and people who can help rebuild people’s confidence, especially those who try to improve schools & education, the government, the environment or whatever their communities need As an organisation, we would like to see a more focus made in the education sector, the youth and the underprivileged in South Africa. We need to bridge the gap and be part of the transformation to provide access to education from the most basic level. South Africa has made the effort to provide higher education to the youth of South Africa but at the same time, basic education for those who are disadvantaged should be highlighted and job creation prioritised for those receiving higher education and training.

Let’s also build on what people are already familiar with, this way we help them take ownership of the process of improving their communities (eg) Unemployment. You also need to make sure that everyone has a ‘voice” from the unemployed youth who has just graduated to the mother who cannot afford to send her child to school.

As Q1 of 2018 closes, what initiatives/partnerships are you particularly excited for in the rest of the year? The launch of the YES Program (Youth Employment Service) – YES is one of the first social compacts between government, business and labour created to give one million youth one million opportunities to succeed, while securing South Africa’s economic prosperity. Together with our FET programmes, we are able to impart technical skills and capabilities to young people and assist with work programs to provide experience

As an organisation, we wish to partner with this initiative as we believe we have a similar vision and goal and we believe that we can provide support to the government as well as receive support in order to build this initiative and assist our youth to reach their full potential. A joint partnership with CAFSA is also very exciting and your support would help us become more beneficial to our country and community.

What role does, or could, your sector play to strengthen civil society? Within the Non-profit sector, it can be said that we are able to strengthen civil society through communities and individuals that work with the purpose of building up young people and focusing on issues that we have in our country.

We believe this sector is a core aspect of the transformation of South Africa because the NPO sector can reach and affect the lives of individuals sometimes more effectively than government or with the support of the government. In terms of our organisation: Sparrow Schools. We have 3 schools established within our organisation.

  • The Sparrow Foundation School caters for learners with cognitive disabilities and barriers to learning from preschool to grade 7 who have been previously disadvantaged.
  • Our Combined Technical Skills High School also caters for learners with barriers to learning but also provides a streamlining pathway to our Sparrow FET College where students have the option to continue their education at TVET College that caters for their specific skills. All our institutions have been Umalusi accredited and we believe this ensures that we continue to provide efficient and quality education to our students.
  • Our Sparrow FET College solely focuses on the youth of South Africa and we hope this provides support to strengthen our civil society as the youth is the future of South Africa and we hope in some way that our organisation will add value to the country as a whole.

We are able to reach cognitively disabled and disadvantaged youth who have the desire to learn a skill:

-We are able to provide learners with theory, practice and a real-world application approach to skills development and training.

-We are able to link graduates with industry by assisting with internships during which they are fully supported, comprehensively trained, and prepared for future employment.



Sparrow Foundation School Introduces our Bridging Class

This year, Sparrow Foundation School along with Charity Fusion and Rays of Hope established a bridging class for learners aged 6-8 coming from disadvantaged homes and who were unable to attend preschool. The bridging class focuses on learning through play and intends to prepare the children for Grade 1. This class was formed recognizing the need in providing a preparatory pathway for children, as a major challenge the Foundation School faces is that some children entering into the school have no previous form of schooling and children would often experience additional challenges in their first year of schooling, thus deterring them from moving to the next grade with ease. Therefore, a bridging class became the most suitable avenue for these children in order to support them and allow access to basic education, as well as, creating a safe haven and positive learning environment.

The main aim of the Bridging Class is to provide an opportunity for these children to further develop their skills and knowledge in a comfortable and happy environment where they feel encouraged and involved. With this in mind, Deputy Principal; Lindsay Stephen and the HOD of Foundation Phase, Maritza de Vries, developed a curriculum to suit the needs of the children by combining principles of Grade R and Grade 1. This tailored curriculum allows learning to be a practical approach whilst assisting with the language barriers and concentrating on specialized activities in developing the learners’ cognitive abilities and motor skills which will support them to gradually move into formal academic learning without feeling too overwhelmed. The hope of this class is to accommodate their needs so that they become self-motivated to learn, and to allow them the opportunity to apply themselves and expose their individuality so that they are able to build on their personal and academic skills. Not only is this class a means to provide a comfortable and safe pathway towards their education but it is an opportunity to help disadvantaged children by creating a safeguarded space where they feel worthy and appreciated.

The curriculum developed is based on building on prior knowledge, learning through play and specialised activities to assist with the children’s overall academic, behavioral and emotional development and will remain a fun and playful learning experience too; it focuses on fundamentals such as literacy and numeracy, computers, gospel and life skills. Life skills is a vital part of the curriculum in the development of young minds, concentrating on beginning knowledge, personal and social well-being, physical education and arts and craft. The idea of creating a safe environment also means keeping classes small and intimate, so it is centralized around each individual learner.  Having dedicated, committed teachers and volunteers, Jessica Moore and Marleen contribute to the notion of having a schooling environment making learning fun.

This would be the first year for the Bridging Class and Sparrow is thrilled to bring new changes and be a part of these children’s educational journey and development. As time passes the idea for the class would be to allow the children an opportunity to continue their education with the correct fundamentals in place. At the end of term 3, the learners would have completed assessments which will be evaluated, thus determining if these learners would repeat or move onto Grade 1, but depending on the age of the learners, there might be a possibility to refer them to a more specialised needs school or training center.

Lastly, we believe the Bridging Class will be an integral part of Sparrow education and it will bring on momentous improvements not only for the children but the organization as a whole.


Our School: Sparrow Combined Technical Skills School

Situated in Sophiatown, The Sparrow Combined Technical Skills School is an accredited institution providing fundamental and vocational training to learners with remedial needs, thus enabling them to access jobs in which they would be trained to excel. The Combined Technical Skills school emerged as a pathway for our learners exiting the Foundation School and seeking to further their education. It also provided and opportunity for learners to enter into the Sparrow FET College.

The Combined Technical Skills School has recently received the Umalusi accreditation, which you can read about in our previous post ( this achievement ensures that Sparrow continuously provides quality education to our students and enables the school to monitor and evaluate education practices effectively in order to align with the correct framework and requirements set before the council.

Finally, at Combined, our learners are provided with the necessary occupational skills, enabling them to attain an NQF level 1 qualification within the duration of four years. Like the Foundation School, the Combined School adopts a learner-centered approach, as we teach towards potential, and are constantly mindful of individual learner strengths and weaknesses.


Our School: Sparrow Foundation School

Sparrow Foundation School emerged as an influx of learners grew and Sparrow needed larger premises to accommodate our children as well acknowledging the demand for children coming from disadvantaged homes to have access to education, specifically children with remedial needs and barriers to learning. As specialised schools with remedial teaching and learning facilities are often not easily accessible to the community, Sparrow aimed to provide affordable education to those who are unable to access those specialised services.





Sparrow Foundation School offers accredited learning from Grades 1-7 and provides services such as an educational psychologist, counselors and onsite speech therapy which contribute to a holistic learning environment that adheres to emotional and academic progress.  At the school, learners experience a hands-on approach to learning where they are assessed based on their improvements rather than a typical grading system. The school inspires to be attentive to an individual’s strengths and weakness and provide extra-mural activities such as pottery, drums, sewing and sports amongst others in order to allow our students to better their cognitive abilities and motor skills.





Sparrow Combined Technical High School receives Umalusi accreditation

Sparrow Combined Technical Skills High School is part of a pilot project in conjunction with the Department of Education. Sparrow Combined Technical Skills High School aims to provide vocational training and specialised education to our learners over a four year period where learners are awarded with an NQF level 1 qualification.This General Certificate of Education is recognised by the GDE and SETA. With this accreditation, the Combined Technical Skills School offers a fully accredited occupational skills programme, enabling learners with remedial needs to gain access to educational and skills development training. The Combined Technical Skills High School also provides a pathway for students entering from the Foundation School as well as learners who may further their education with the Sparrow FET College.

The Umalusi Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education aims to oversee the activities regarding Private institutions and independent schools in South Africa. The Umalusi council aims to bridge the gap where government bodies were unable to conduct research on matters relating to private institutions and independent schools. The aim of the council is to mandate research and development for education and training as a whole as well as provide an opportunity for institutions to register and receive accreditation to deliver quality education and service for private providers of education. The Council’s research agenda and research projects are supported and critiqued by a Research Forum consisting of prominent academics and experts.In accrediting institutions Umalusi is guided by policy documents that contain criteria for accreditation for each institutional type.

Umalusi is mandated to accredit private providers of education and training and grants institutions a license to operate in South Africa. As stated in the Umalusi accreditation, all private institutions should be accredited in order to operate within South Africa. With this seen foresight, the Combined Technical High School applied for an Umalusi accreditation beforehand in order to be ahead within the industry and be a licensed training provider. Sparrow believes that accreditation is imperative in providing vocational training to our learners.

The quality assurance process attests the institution but allows for improvements in order to better education practices. The council evaluated all policies and procedures within Sparrow Combined Technical High School, from employee registration, student enrolment, teaching practices, curriculum development as well as the disciplinary processes.

Approval was granted and we were happy to announce the Umalusi received status to the Combined Technical Skills High School. This accreditation confirms the quality of provision offered and allows Sparrow to continually monitor the education practices efficiently to remain in line with the framework and requirements set before the council, therefore monitoring and evaluating performance to be compliant and ultimately enable Sparrow as an institution to provide quality education for our learners.


Our Story

Trust history

What started as a Saturday morning school in 1989 with only four learners has developed into an ever-growing Non-Profit Educational Trust, catering for children with learning disabilities and upskilling the youth of South Africa.

Sparrow schools has expanded into three institutions, namely the Foundation School for young learners with remedial and special needs, Sparrow Combined Technical Skills School and Sparrow FET College, catering for more than 600 youth from impoverished communities.  These three projects are all aimed at empowering learners to prosper in the educational sector and thereafter in the working environment. Learners acquire the necessary skill sets offered at the institutions to allow them to be a part of a prospering society and economy.