Sparrow FET College Operations Manager shares her views

Melanie first joined Sparrow Schools in 2002, but left to pursue different projects, before re-joining the team in late 2008, when she took up the mantle as the Operations Manager at the FET College.


As the operations manager, Melanie is responsible not only for the day-to-day running of the FET college and all its faculties and administration, but also ensuring that the programmes and curriculum are meeting the needs of the learners and the workplace at large.

She believes that her life experience has brought her to where she is now and her role at Sparrow Schools FET College has enabled her to make a tangible difference in the lives of young people that are willing to take hold of the opportunities provided through this institution.

16 years of experience in social upliftment programmes and an extensive background in administration within a large financial services company, have made Melanie very pragmatic about what is required to efficiently run a business and at the same time turn people’s lives around.  She believes that one of her greatest strengths is her ability to wear different hats in her role at the FET College, to remain calm, and always consider all sides of a story, before making a judgement or a decision.

Her vision for the FET College is to continue to use it as the engine of sustainability for the Sparrow Schools Trust, especially at a time when NGOs are being encouraged to consider self-funding models.  It is, in her words, very rewarding to watch the FET College grow.  She believes there is scope for a national footprint for the Sparrow Schools FET College, one that is able to develop and offer more training programmes that are relevant for business.  

¨I do not consider myself a changemaker, people choose to change themselves. I am a part of the puzzle that contributes towards bettering our society and my country and to empowering people and helping them realise their full potential.¨

Melanie Malema – Operations manager at Sparrow FET College.

Class of 2015- Sparrow FET Graduation

On Friday 7th October, Sparrow’s FET College, celebrated the graduation of the class of 2015. Together with their families, staff and past students, the graduation ceremony was an opportunity to come together and celebrate the hard work and success of the class of 2015. It was an inspiring event, which consisted of the FET College 1st ever choir performance, talks from special guests, trustees and past students who have gone on to do incredible work in their various employment settings.

“I thank Sparrow FET for giving me courage and potential to succeed in my new role as an administrator. The FET teachers were more than educators; they taught me life skills that I will use to make a success of my bright future.” (Graduate from the IT- End- User Computing Programme).

The Sparrow FET College is addressing one of the nation’s biggest issues- youth unemployment and skills development. We are changing the lives of South African youth by educating students with specific industry driven skills, who have often been unemployed for many years.  The support network of our job coaches play a huge role in assisting students during their six month work experience placement and to help them become employed.

The graduation was an upbeat, celebratory ceremony, which we hope will reflect the future of South Africa. The skills programmes for the class of 2015 included the following:

  1.   Automotive Repair and Maintenance
  2.   Early Childhood Development
  3.   Fluid Power Hose Assembly
  4.   Furniture Making- Wood Machining
  5.   Installation of Floor Covering
  6.   IT- End- User computing
  7. Professional Cookery
  8. Welding Application and Practice


We thank everyone who has supported the Sparrow FET College so far, including corporate sponsors and partners, Sparrow Trustees, the hardworking educators/ staff and the passionate, hardworking young graduates.

Please email  if you would like to find out how to get involved with sponsoring a course to tackle youth unemployment and gain B-EEE points at the same time.

If you are a young person between the age of 18-35 and would like to gain life enhancing skills to help you enter the workplace, please get in touch: +27 11 673 4410.

Visit our FET Facebook page and website for further information.

A few tips from our LSU remedial therapist for the end of year exams

Exams seem to always be a stressful time for children and for the parents. There is a lot of pressure on children to perform well in their exams and this pressure often causes anxiety which results in more stress and lower results.

Some ideas to make studying more ……

  1. Manage expectations – this goes for both parents and the learners. If your child is not a straight A student during their classwork and class assessments it is unfair to expect them to achieve A’s in their exams. Your child may have stronger subjects in which they do well in and other subjects that they find more challenging. It should be more important that your child is putting in the effort and trying their best. Your child’s efforts should be praised.
  2. Set realistic goals –instead of trying to get over 80% for all of the subjects, the learner could choose their strongest subject and aim high for those but if for example they find math’s really challenging then it may be a big accomplishment to achieve 60% in that exam.
  3. Positive attitude – exams are a stressful time, parents and caregivers should encourage the learner to work hard and to be proud of their efforts. Exams are scary but they are also an opportunity for the learners to apply all of their knowledge that they have been learning during class. Remind them that they have done all of the work already and now they are just revising the work. If you stay calm and positive then your child is more likely to also be calm and positive.
  4. Planning – once your child receives their exam timetable then you should sit down together and help your child plan a study timetable that allows them enough time to prepare in advance for their exams. This timetable should include regular study breaks, breaks for meals, and a time for your child to de-stress, and do activities they enjoy such as playing with their friends. Balance is key and half an hour study sessions each day will be a lot less stressful and more beneficial then a late night three hour cramming session before the big exam.
  5. Ask for help – if your child is really struggling with a concept or subject, contact the teacher and ask if they could send home some extra activities for you to work through together at home. For example even though Math’s is not typically a studying subject your child can practice doing different examples of the sums.
  6. Be Prepared – your child will feel less stressed if they have been revising continuously up to the exam, if they know which exams they are writing when and the times of the exams, if they know that they have all of the stationary and materials they need for the exam. It is always better to have extra stationary in case a pen stops working, a pencil gets lost, or a friend needs to borrow a ruler. On the day of the exam make sure your child has a good healthy breakfast and lunch at school to help them keep up their energy levels, your child won’t be able to concentrate on a grumbly stomach.
  7. Find a study style that works – every child learns differently and they should try out different approaches to find out what works for them, for example:
    1. Auditory learners – learn by listening, may need to say the work out aloud, they may turn their study material into a song, they may want you to ask them questions verbally and they answer them verbally. Could benefit from study groups.
    2. Visual learners – learn by seeing or reading, write out notes and highlight important points, they may do well with mind maps and charts, and flash cards.
    3. Kinesthetic learners – learn by doing and moving, turning their study material into a dance or play, enjoy role playing, can read work while bouncing a tennis ball, practicing timetables or spelling words while throwing a ball to each other, enjoy more practical based activities.

Written by Samantha Bolton – Remedial Therapist

Does your child have difficulty hearing and understanding speech? Here are some explanations

What is an Auditory Processing Disorder?
Auditory processing disorder (APD) is often described as greater than expected difficulty hearing
and understanding speech even though no measurable hearing loss exists. Individuals with
Auditory processing disorders may act as though a hearing loss is present when in fact, hearing
sensitivity is often within normal limits.
A learner with APD may present with some of the following:
• Poor listening skills
• Difficulty following oral instructions or classroom discussions
• Frequently saying, “huh”, or “what?”
• Difficulty with phonics or letter-sound correspondences, sound blending, or segmentation
• Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words
• Poor spelling
• Slow fluency of reading
• Poor reading comprehension
• Difficulty understanding in the presence of background noise
• Poor attention, day dreaming, high distractibility
• Give slow or delayed responses to oral questions
• May be prone to behaviour problems due to frustration or boredom
• Avoidance of reading or other difficult task
Suggestions to assist a learner with APD
Encourage your learner to become a “detective” in finding strategies that work best for their
learning style. Ask them what works for them in the classroom and encourage them to self-monitor
as much as possible.

Some other ideas include:
• Writing directions on the board
• Preferential seating such as making sure the learner sits close to the front of the class
• Limiting background noise during desk work, or wearing ear plugs
• Presenting directions in short segments using visual cues if necessary
• Accommodating your learners longer response time by increasing waiting time so that you give
them a chance to process your instruction
• Asking the learner to repeat back what you said silently to themselves/to you
• Rephrasing and repeating what you have explained in simple sentences
• Maintaining structure and routine so directions are predictable
• Assigning a buddy to your learner so they can check their understanding with their buddy


By: Candice Tu, Speech-Language Pathologist

More about our Feeding Scheme… and how you can help

Currently the Foundation Feeding Scheme is providing lunch to seven to ten permanent learners per day and twenty additional temporary learners who we could add permanently once the project is more financially sustainable. The Foundation Feeding Scheme are currently providing the learners with a variety of spreads on low GI sandwiches along with a fruit and a juice.

The following menu would be the ideal meals to provide to the learners. It is divided in six days so that they don’t eat the same food on the same day each week.

Day 1 Soup

Bread rolls



Day 4 Tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches



Day 2 Chicken wrap lettuce


cream cheese



Day 5 Hot dogs



Day 3 Fish fingers




Day 6 Fruit salad



It is a challenge at this stage to accurately determine the quantity of each product. The choice of weekly/monthly donations it’s entirely up to Nambikkai as we have the option to freeze the products to retain freshness.

Safety tip to teach your kids…

The world can sometimes be a scary place but we are able to prepare our kids to cope and make the best out of situations that might arise. Below are some handy things parents should focus on when teaching their kids about personal safety:

  • Tell your kids young: it is never to early to teach them about being safe.
  • Give clear guidelines such as “Never go home with anyone unless I have told you to first.”
  • Role play: Kid’s learn by doing so role play out some scenarios of how people may place your child in danger and how they can react.
  • Teach them to call for help from nearby adults.
  • Explain that “no one may touch their body in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.”
  • Kids may not be used from running away from an adult as they are taught to listen to them. But it is okay to teach them they can run from someone who makes them feel unsafe.

Written by: Warren Thompson, Sparrow Schools LSU manager.

A story of a passionate young student at Sparrow’s FET College.

“I want to start my own company one day…”

“This course has helped me gain knowledge and experience that I need to take my dreams forward one day.”

Here at Sparrow Schools we love hearing from past students.

So we were delighted to see Tenash (Kumbirai Murenje) is now working at Sparrow’s Foundation office as part of his 6 month work experience placement where he has the opportunity to enter the workplace and apply what he has learnt before completing his course. He started with the Bridging course at Sparrow’s Combined School last year and then progressed to Sparrow’s FET College in January 2016 to study Business Administration. There he spent the first 6 months of his course at the FET College learning about the theory of Business Administration.

Sparrow’s FET College strikes the balance between the classroom and work-based methods of learning. We are one of the few colleges in South Africa that have excelled in putting the vocational education model into practice.

Tenash, who has been working at Sparrow’s Foundation office to assist with the admin work since July said: “I am learning so much and gaining a lot from this experience at Sparrow Schools. I want to continue working here after I have finished my course and then gain a  further qualification in Business Studies.”

What inspired us the most was his optimism and passion despite having a troubled start to life. It involved moving to and from Zimbabwe and South Africa until he lost his parents in 2009. He now lives in Melville with his Aunty and sister. At 18 years of age, he has come so far as to complete the bridging course at Sparrow’s Combined School and excelling at Sparrow’s FET College which clinched  his placement at the Foundation School.

“I want to start my own company and set up a coffee shop, as I see lots of opportunities in this space. This course has helped me gain knowledge and experience that I need to take my dreams forward one day.”


What our principal’s have to say…

Leona Krishna, principal of the foundation school:  Sparrow Schools

Leona Krishna is the principal of Sparrow Schools´ foundation school, which caters for learners between Grade one and Grade three.   In her current role, Leona is responsible for aligning the school’s curriculum with the national CAPS curriculum, managing the daily activities of the school and maintaining critical relationships between the school, its supporters and stakeholders (both in terms of the Department of Education, the parents; learners and sponsors).

Having qualified as a teacher in 1993, Leona has dedicated most of her career to teaching vocational skills – mostly in the hospitality industry.  She has also worked in the private sector, as the owner of two Milky Lane franchises – both of which were recognised as national training stores.

She believes that Sparrow Schools chose her – rather than her choosing the school.  Leona was drawn to the partnership approach that exists between the school and the business world, in an effort to uplift skills development in our country.

Leona believes that everything about Sparrow School is driven by passion.  The passion to see growth, to make a tangible difference, and to see how learners’ lives can be changed.

“Each teacher at Sparrow Schools is called here to do this.  I am honoured to be part of this truly learner centric institution.”



Bio: Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Academic manager at Sparrow Schools

Jacques Janse van Rensburg joined the Sparrow Schools team in October 2012 primarily as the academic manager, although he does have some operational responsibilities for the High School.

A qualified teacher by trade, Jacques has more than 13 years experience in the education sector.  As the academic manager at Sparrow Schools, he focuses his time and energy on critically evaluating and developing the academic programmes and assessment practices for the institution, ensuring alignment between the requirements of the Department of Education, and those of the learners that attend the school.

He believes that his experience as a national trainer and co-ordinator for a large business-to-business solutions provider, and his time at a tertiary institution, developing content, and ensuring high quality delivery thereof, has more than equipped him to bring best of breed practices to Sparrow Schools.  He combines this experience with a strength in planning, and more critically, an ability to build high performing teams committed to getting the job done.

Jacques and his team share a vision of making Sparrow Schools the foremost institution  of choice for children with barriers to learning.  We want to be renowned for world class curricula, facilities, educators and therapists.

¨I love the limitlessness of what I do – I believe we are only bound by our passion, our education, imagination and initiative.


Sparrow FET College supports Skills Development in South Africa

According to the Financial Mail, the South African Marketing, Advertising & Communications industry is under pressure to help address black unemployment in the country by complying with the recently amended BBBEE codes.  One of the changes is that more points are now awarded to Advertising companies under the “skills development” element of BEE than for other sectors.

Skills development is vital if we are going to tackle SA’s high youth unemployment levels, which is the most pressing issue in the country today.

The good news is institutions like Sparrow FET College, can offer solutions across all angles to help your business comply and achieve BEE points for skills development. We are passionate about the issue and helping up skill SA youth so we would welcome the opportunity to chat with your company to see how we can help tackle youth unemployment together.

Have a look at our website or our Sparrow FET College’s Facebook page for more information.

To read the article: ‘BEE reality hits marketers’ click on the link:

LSU Manager shares his experiences at Sparrow Schools

Warren Thompson has been with Sparrow Schools team since 2012 and is currently the Manager of the Learner Support Unit (LSU)

He has vast experience in the support of individuals’ health and wellbeing, and the common thread throughout his career has been education. With qualifications in Child & Family Psychology, Social Work and assessment, he has worked at various educational institutions including the University of Johannesburg and Rosebank College, offering support and guidance to countless students.

In his role as the LSU Manager, Warren is best known for his calm and thoughtful leadership, and works with therapists across all three schools (Foundation, Combined and FET College), providing training, support and supervision to ensure that the learners and students receive the most beneficial educational experience.

Warren’s passion for ensuring students are given access to all the tools required to reach their full potential is what drives him in his daily work at Sparrow Schools.

“Seeing students change and succeed, and to be able to make a difference, not only in their lives but in the lives of their families, is an amazing journey.”


Warren Thompson – Learner Support Unit Manager, Sparrow Schools