Kamo represents in Children’s Parliament

On the week of 5 October 2015, the Department of Social Development hosted the fifth Annual Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Free State Provincial Legislature.  The aim was to give children an understanding of parliamentary processes and it is also an opportunity for them to tackle issues that affect them. The theme was “Claiming our Rights to Safety and Protection”.

The topics discussed in the proceedings included forced child marriages, deaths in initiation schools, child killings illegal pregnancy terminations among young people, violence, and etc. “What we are doing here is to build leadership for the future. There must be a shining star whereby our children come from,” Said Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini.

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The two day commission hosted child representatives from all nine provinces. Representing the Sparrow Combined School was grade 8 learner Kamohelo Lephallo who was one of the five selected to represent Gauteng. “It was very exciting to be part of the team representing Gauteng and being inside parliament for the first time. It was a real learning experience,” Lephallo says.

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The 16 year old takes pride on being appointed as the team leader for the team he was assigned to throughout the course of the commission. “The biggest lesson that I took away from the experience was leadership, learning how to manage people and what it really takes to be a good leader,” he explains.  He further adds, “The biggest issue that was addressed for me was education which I am very passionate about.”

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Lephallo joined the Sparrow Combined School in January 2015 with a learning challenge. Despite him struggling to grasp certain concepts, “Kamo is actually one of our brightest learners, he really excels when he puts his mind to it. He has shown great improvement in his work over the months,” explains Lephallo’s teacher Israel Chiture.

Lephallo is also one with many talents; he was awarded the title of Sportsman of the year at his previous school in Mayfair, Johannesburg. His passion lies in drama and music and he aims to pursue a career in theater. He is also part of the Combined School Choir that will be embarking on the United Kingdom Choir Tour in November 2015.

Academics are not the only way

Most of the world’s education system’s core focus is academics, which makes school a prolonged ordeal for many. This leaves learners going through many years feeling like they are not good enough to compete in the world and that can have detrimental consequences. When the apartheid government was abolished in 1993, many children affected by the system were still at a disadvantage and had nobody to help them catch up on the backlog, allowing them a smooth transition into mainstream schools.

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Through its remedial teaching and skills training, the Sparrow Schools Education Trust has developed a way to provide the previously disadvantaged and academically challenged people a fighting chance to compete in society and contribute to the country’s economy.

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After going on the United Kingdom Choir tour in 2004, one Sparrow Schools student in the Catering Programme was inspired to break the stereotypes that you can only compete in the world if you excel academically. “When I was in school, I was really not an academic child, so I found an opportunity where I could rise and do what I am doing now and I love it,” says Lehlohonolo Magadime, Senior Chef Supervisor at Delaire Graff Estate in Cape Town. He further adds, “It does help having a passion and doing what you love. I think it is important for the youth out there to follow their passion for them to succeed.”

Magadime has since travelled the world and is now also running his own Catering Company called Exclusively Yours Catering. “I think he is a very hardworking, strong and upcoming young chef. He is very passionate, dedicated and he has a very bright future in the kitchen, he will take it further than that,” says Head Chef at Delaire Graff, Virgil Khan.

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Young Chef on the rise

South Africa continues to be plagued by youth unemployment and more young people are being locked out of the country’s education system due to a lack of finances. As demonstrated by recent events, young people are growing impatient as they continue to be barred from enjoying the fruits of the country’s young democracy. After completing her matric in 2010, Segomotso Phitlho was faced with a dilemma experienced by many, figuring out what she would do with her life and how she was going to further her studies and finance them.

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In 2011, instead of pursuing her ambitions and furthering her studies, not by choice, Phitlho like many others sought a job in retail just to make ends meet. Things did not get any easier for her in 2013, after falling pregnant and having no idea how she was going to raise her baby.  After getting a recommendation by a friend, Phitlho found her breakthrough and registered for a funded Assistant Chef program at the Sparrow FET College in 2014.

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Phitlho underwent training at the College and was placed at a Spar outlet after 3 months to gain workplace experience. After the duration of her training at Spar came to a conclusion, due to her resilience and determination, she was absorbed into the Spar as a permanent employee. “I am very grateful for the opportunity that I got through Sparrow, being there has built me as person, my self-esteem has improved and my life now has direction,” Phitlho says.

After spending some time at Spar, Phitlho decided it was time to spread her wings and go out on her own. With her head held high, she walked into Southern Sun, Monte Casino. After spending just 3 weeks in training, Phitlho was soon promoted to Commis-Chef.  “Phitlo was one of those people that came in here seeking work but I saw something different in her. Her confidence the minute we started talking really stood out you know, which is a trait that you need in this kind of environment. I honestly believe that if she remains focused, she has the potential to really go far in her career,” says Southern Sun Head Chef, Jade Sullaphen.

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Phitlho’s story does not end here. “There are a lot of things I still want to achieve, I’m planning on studying further and taking my specialties to the world and I have my eyes set on Dubai,” says Phitlo emphatically. This is one among many stories that the Sparrow FET College continues to produce through our effective and market-leading training models.

Sparrow Combined Introducing Bridging Programme

The Sparrow Combined School offers the full prescribed CAPS curriculum at grades 8 and 9 level. The curriculum is offered according to remedial principles that allow the adjustment of content and pace of learning. The learning pace and content is specifically matched to learner ability and type of impairment.

Due to the Combined School only offering grades 8 and 9; the school realized a need to make the transition into the FET College easier and is introducing a two year bridging programme. This programme will cater for learners who have successfully completed grade 9 and will serve as an introduction to the skills of any FET College.

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In addition to the practical skills, learner literacy levels are improved through computer-assisted literacy training. The basic skills needed to successfully cope with the world of work are also introduced through a work-readiness program that will also help learners get a head start as they embark on their journey through the FET College. This ensures the learner is mature enough to cope and compete in society.

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In January 2015, nine learners from the Combined school were successfully recruited into the FET College’s Furniture Making: Wood programme. The learners spent six months undergoing both theoretical and practical training at the FET College. “It was not easy getting the learners to the level that I want them to be at considering they came here at a much younger age. I’m very happy about this bridging programme as it will make all our jobs easier, including helping the learners have a much better transitioning experience,” says Furniture Making: Wood programme facilitator, Wayne Hendricks.

The learners have been successfully placed into various companies for their workplace experience. These companies include Webbers Woodcraft, Falcon Shopfitters SA (Pty) Ltd, Everhood, Devin Cabinet Doors, and Charles Oregon Furniture.

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