Creative Writing student Jets off to Germany!

Sparrow Schools sends a round of applause to our very own creative writing pupil at the Combined School, Shivar Lalla. Lalla overcame the odds and was awarded a scholarship by the Goethe-Institute. He is representing Sparrow Combined School and is joining other pupils across South Africa for a three-week German language course in Munich.

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Shivar Lalla

“I am looking forward to seeing all the different and new places, seeing all the German cars, stadiums but mostly expand my knowledge of the German language and culture,” Lalla said

The course kicked off from 14 June 2015 and will conclude on 4 July 2015.

Sparrow Schools is extremely proud and wish Lalla all the best. He is not only representing the School but the whole of South Africa.

Meet Sparrow Foundation’s Pastoral Care facilitator

Life Skills Facilitator, mentor, counselor, and pastoral care are just a few titles Mr Thami Thomo goes by. One would think the family man has his hands full with two of his own children, two adopted teens and now a father figure for many kids at the Sparrow Foundation School.  However, Thomo is not fazed by it all, he takes fatherhood seriously, drawing inspiration from his own journey; being raised by a single mother after losing his father at the tender age of six.

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Thomo is part of the multifaceted Learner Support Unit team responsible for psychological wellness of the learners at the remedial school. His involvement in the Pastoral Care unit includes constant nurturing, self-esteem rebuilding, encouraging parental involvement for those learners with parents and often mentoring the boy child without a biological father figure. “When mentoring; positive punishment and exclusion of intimidation is vital. The emphasis is on love and instilling a structure for the boy child”, Thomo explains. He has been confronted by a number of learner cases where hurt, anger and sometimes brokenness is evident. Many of the learners have been stigmatized for attending a remedial school, some have lost their parents or even abandoned. “It is my duty to restore their self-esteem and teach them life skills using biblical references,” Thomo says.

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Considering the amount of time children spend in the school environment an attempt to model a father figure is a fair chance at reversing the negative effects of our fatherless society.

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Such interventions are aimed at enabling the ability to understand one’s self and coping with the challenges life brings. This proactively eliminates the number of children with a negative image of men.  “It has to start somewhere and my start is You are Loved, You Belong and You are Precious,Thomo says with a smile reciting the motto he has instilled in his learners.

 

Sparrow FET College making great strides

South Africa continues to be plagued by skills shortages partly due to our country’s inability to develop, utilize and retain enough human capital. The lack of investment in skills development has been identified as one of the critical restrictions to economic growth and employment creation by government.

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The scourge of skills shortages contributes to building social ills, leaving our country with high unemployment levels. Although South Africa is considered by many to be the Economic hub of Africa, a lack of skills shortages presents our country as one of the most unequal societies in the world.

Sparrow FET College together with its various industry partners continues to champion the fight against this lack of skills shortages. In 2014, the FET College continued in its pursuit to partner with different industry players including Spar, Pirtek, Belgotex, Imperial and many others to provide youth with critical and scarce skills.

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Through the past year, these partnerships have proved to be efficient in producing qualified artisans. Many of our graduates are now fulltime employees and some have been absorbed by our partners. The most notable successes were from the Automotive Repair & Maintenance, Assistant Chef and Power Fluid Hose Assembly programs. The aforementioned programs achieved employment successes of 81%, 69% and 68% respectively. Across all programs, we can prove that 60% of our graduates gain full-time employment.

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Credit must be given to the Sparrow Trust employees who played major role in ensuring these successes. This particularly includes the qualified FET facilitators who bring with them a wealth of experience. Most students who enrol into the FET come from disadvantaged backgrounds and bring with them a sense of disillusionment and find it hard to believe that they can succeed in life. This is where the quality of our facilitators comes into play. Because of the facilitators, a lot of the students gradually realise that there is still a fighting chance. “The trick is to not only focus on the study material because I have also taught these students the value that is respect. If you give them respect, this contributes to their self-esteem and self-worth. I try and put them in the employer’s shoes and ask themselves this question, ‘which employee do you think you would employ amongst yourselves?’ says Power Fluid Hose Assembly facilitator, Parker Shamiel.

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It is only through skills development that we are able to continue to successfully produce self-reliant young people. This helps provide South Africa’s economy with a competitive advantage over the rest of the world.

 

Being an Educate A Child Champion

Karen Koch walking for Sparrow Schools at the Discovery 702 Walk The Talk

Karen Koch walking for Sparrow Schools at the Discovery 702 Walk The Talk

Karen Koch is and continues to be one of Sparrow Schools’ longtime friend and an Educate A Child supporter. We caught up with her to get to know her better and what inspires her passion for our Educate A Child programme.

Q: How long have you been involved with the EAC programme?

A: I’ve been involved for about two years now.

Q: Why did you choose to get involved with Sparrow Schools and EAC? Why does this cause matter to you?

A: As part of a middle management development programme at work, teams were assigned an NGO to work with, and Sparrow Schools was one of them. Although I wasn’t part of the team that worked with Sparrow, one of the team members told me about the work you do and I was inspired to start getting involved. I believe that the only way to alleviate the poverty and help reduce crime in SA is by educating people so that they are able to find employment. By educating people who would otherwise have been failed by the system, and especially through the apprenticeship programme, Sparrow is doing something tangible to make our country a better place. At about the same time, I also heard a guy who had previously been homeless but had then been to your chef school, call in to Radio 702 to ask for work in a professional kitchen, and someone offered him a job on the spot. It was truly heart-warming.

Q: How important do you think giving back is?

A:  Firstly, I believe it is a Biblical principle – I am only a steward (not the owner) of what I receive, and it is my duty to help those less fortunate. Besides being a duty, it is also a privilege to help others who are not as blessed as I am, and by doing so, equip them to one day be in a position to bless others.

Q: How has your involvement with the EAC programme contributed to your personal growth?

A: We arranged a team from work to help paint one of the classrooms on Mandela Day 2013, and I’ve also been to a graduation ceremony. I was blessed just being part of those events.  It truly is a blessing to see the difference Sparrow makes in the children’s lives. I’ve also participated in the 2013 and 2014 Discovery 702 Walk the Talk events as part of the Sparrow team, so it’s not only good for my soul, but my physical health too!

Q: What are the most critical results you expect our organization to produce?

A: To equip children of all ages (particularly those who would not otherwise have had the opportunity) with the skills they will need to one day be productive members of society.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would want everyone to be loved and to live with dignity, to have enough to meet their needs and to contribute to society by helping others. That sounds very simple, but I believe there are many people who don’t have that and may never get the chance to get it. And it humbles me, because I am fortunate enough to be very blessed.

Q:  What actions do you think would best cause the change you envision?

A: Partnering with Sparrow is one of the ways in which I try to make the world a better place.  I may only help a few children, but they will go on to help others. If everyone did something, it adds up.

Q: What would you like to pass on to future generations?

A: I’m reminded of what Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I would urge everyone to be a blessing to others – when you help others; your own blessings are multiplied. And of course, there are few things as gorgeous as the smile on a child’s face, so if I can help to make a few children smile, it’s enough for me.

You too can be an Educate A Child Champion and make a difference in a child’s life. Contact Precious Mbele on 011 482 1015 or preciousmbele@sparrowschools.co.za.

Vernolia thriving in male dominated field

A lot has been written in the media about South Africa’s recent unemployment slump, most of it negative. According to employment data released by Statistics South Africa on 26 May 2015, the unemployment rate in the country soared to its highest level in over a decade. Unemployment in the first quarter of 2015 has risen to 26.4% and more than 20 million people are not economically active in the country.

According to earlier results from Stats SA, the youth continue to be the hardest hit by unemployment. Being the optimists that we are at Sparrow Schools we see opportunities in all difficulties. Through our partnership with industry we continue to champion the fight against unemployment and helping young people overcome difficult circumstances.

Vernolia hard at work

Vernolia hard at work

Sparrow FET Automotive Repair & Maintenance graduate, Vernolia Breede was forced to drop out of school when she fell pregnant at a young age. Things got worse for her when she was hit by the harsh realisation that she would have to raise her baby as a single mother. Realising that she cannot just sit at home and wallow in despair, she heard about Sparrow FET’s Automotive Repair & Maintenance program and enrolled in 2014.

Not only has Breede thrived in this male dominated automotive industry, she managed to be one of the two students from a group of 26, selected to serve as an Apprentice for Lazarus Motors.  “I grew up tough so coming into this industry and adapting was not much of an issue. I know that if a man can do it, I can do it too”, Breede confidently says.

Vernolia with Senior Technician Andries Els

Vernolia with Senior Technician Andries Els

Since joining Lazarus Motors in January 2015, Breede’s future looks promising. She has worked under different Technicians who all sing her praises. “She is really hard working and has improved a lot since joining us. Apart from the fact that I can trust her enough to work alone, I see bright future for her here,” says Lazarus Motors Technician, Andries Roos.

Breede’s life has improved dramatically since joining the Sparrow FET College. She adds, “looking at my baby grow up is also what motivates me and pushes me to be someone better.” She has her eyes on working her way up to becoming a Senior Adviser in the next 5 years.

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Vernolia with her team

Breede is one among many graduates who have risen above circumstance and turned their lives around. At Sparrow Schools, we aim to offer practical solutions to South Africa’s socio-economic challenges. We have programs and strategies which have proven to be effective in helping eradicate poverty and unemployment one step at time. We remain true to our mission to prepare children and youth living with learning difficulties to become income generators. We do this through comprehensive education and vocational skills training.

Deustche Bank Unlocking potential, Improving lives

On 22 May 2015, The Sparrow Foundation School opened its doors to financial services giant Deustche Bank for a Do it Day project. As part of the bank’s Born to Be youth engagement programme, they visited the Sparrow Foundation School to give their time and donate books.

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The Born to Be program is aimed at equipping young people with education and developing their full potential. It is also aimed at empowering the next generation’s workforce and helping improve South Africa’s competitiveness on the world stage. The programme’s focus is on intervention on two stages of development in a young person’s life: early childhood and high school.

The day started with the Born to Be representatives giving a talk on nutrition in the school’s hall. The team was then split and assigned to different classes were each Born to Be representative would assist teachers distributing books and reading for the kids.

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The Foundation School was thrilled to have hosted the Deustche Bank. It is through such partnerships and support from businesses that Sparrow Schools continues to thrive. Together we can improve the education and training of disempowered youth. This enables us to contribute to the larger objective of uplifting the country’s economy and the well-being of those marginalised in society.

Sparrow Schools encourages businesses to join us in equipping young South Africans with skills to become contributing members of society. To find out more about adopting a project for a Do it Day, companies can contact our head office on 011 482 1015.