FET student promoted to Assistant Store Manager

As the South African unemployment rate rose to 25.5% in the third quarter of 2015, the Sparrow FET College continues to produce stories of hope. The FET College has managed to defy the odds against tough economic conditions.

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After failing his matric, Shadrack Dhlangamandla, like many disillusioned youth in South Africa, started feeling like his future was doomed. That was until a friend recommended the Installation of Floor Coverings program at the Sparrow FET College. After passing his assessment, he was enrolled into the Floor Installation Coverings program in January 2014.

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He underwent six months training at the College and was placed at Turner Peirson in Booysens, Johannesburg. After displaying massive commitment, Turner Peirson employed him as a Fitter in July 2015. “I’m happy that I enrolled into the program, it gave me hope that I can still do something with my life,” Shadrack explains.

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Hardly six months in, the 21 year old has been promoted to Assistant Store Manager.  “Since he arrived here, he has been very enthusiastic; he is eager and has very good nature,” says Turner Peirson’s Quantity Surveyor, Mario Selibas. Sounding quite excited, Shadrack adds, “I was a very hard worker, I knew what I wanted and I’m very excited that they chose me.”

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Growing up with a single mother taking care of five children, Shadrack has never had it easy.  His commitment and determination is motivated by the need to step in as the second bread winner at home. “I’m happy about that experience that I have gained and I am also happy that I can help my mother at home,” Shadrack says.

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The Sparrow FET College is committed to ensuring that young people gain access to quality training and education, providing them with ability to create a livelihood for themselves and their families. This is made possible through developing and strengthening partnerships with industry payers like Turner Peirson, who give these young people real world experience and opportunities.

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Floor laying students give back

On 28 October 2015, the Sparrow FET College’s Installation of Floor Coverings students carried out their practical training at the Dorcas Crèche orphanage in Westbury. Besides helping equip the students with work experience, the exercise was also a way of giving back to the community. The orphanage consists of two homes, a crèche and a church.

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This project was initiated when a Women of Vision representative, Mrs. Teresa Richards, approached the Flooring Industry Training Association (FITA) requesting that carpets be installed at their Dorcas Crèche and Church in Westbury. Women of Vision are a non-profit organisation dedicated to implementing sustainable programs within communities where violence, substance abuse and unemployment are prevalent.  Women of Vision are inspired by the following quotation by Mother Teresa, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.  But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

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This achievement was made possible through the generous contributions made by Allan De Wit from Belgotex Carpets, Richard Barrow from Turner Peirson, and Neil Duncan from  Kevin Bates. The Sparrow FET College is delighted to partner with these prestigious leaders in the flooring industry.

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This was not the first time that the Sparrow FET College students have shown their commitment to giving back to the community while upskilling themselves in the process. The students have installed carpets at various centres including the Mmabana Day Care, Westbury Day Care, Hillbrow Sports Facility and the Hillbrow Day Care in Johannesburg.

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Mantsha receives Richard Bernhard Award

On 22 October 2015, the Sparrow Combined School bestowed the Richard Bernhard Award to one deserving learner. The award is awarded each year to students who have been consistent loyal and Cheerful ambassadors for the school. The learner must demonstrate perseverance, determination and consideration for others.

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This year, grade 9 learner, Mantsha Modiga, proved to be the most deserving. “I was so nervous and happy when I got the award because I did not expect it,” Mantsha says joyfully.  The 16 year old from Pimville, Soweto, joined the Sparrow Combined School in 2014. Before joining Sparrow, Mantsha had trouble coping in school and her academics were very poor.

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A year later, since joining Sparrow, her self-confidence and academics have improved dramatically. Not only has she become an A student, but she will be going back into a mainstream school in 2016. She has received certificates of excellence in Science and Technology, Mathematics, English, and Zulu. “I am inspired by my late father; he always taught me that everything that I do, I do for myself and nobody else,” Mantsha says. Mantsha’s dream is to pursue a career in aviation as a Pilot. She now lives with her mother, her three sisters and niece.

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The Richard Bernhard award was the brainchild of former chairman of the Sparrow Foundation in the United Kingdom. He has been a supporter, friend and great champion for Sparrow’s fight to give young South Africans access to education. “When I retired from chairing the Trustees, I wanted to recognise in a more permanent way the joy I had working with you (Sparrow Schools) and acknowledging the children’s huge efforts towards building a future for themselves,” explains Richard Bernhard.

Empowering young people through agriculture

On 27 October 2015, Nedbank Personal Loans in partnership with the City of Johannesburg and the Department of Social Development donated a second veggie tunnel at the Sparrow Combined School. This is an effort to promote agriculture and teaching learners about the importance of food security.

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Although South Africa is considered a food secure nation, there remains serious food security challenges. According to an address by Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development in 2015, one in four people currently suffer from hunger on a regular basis. He further adds that more than half of the population is at risk of going hungry.

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The Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution states that “every citizen has a right to have access to sufficient food, water and social security”. The veggie tunnels donated to the Sparrow Combined School will go a long way in ensuring that learners facing learning challenges are equipped with the right tools to develop self-sufficiency and thus providing them with the capability to earn a livelihood.

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Justine Bolton, who implements caring for communities projects with Nedbank explains, “The projects’ purpose is to promote sustainability across schools, communities while ensuring that children stay in school. The aim is also to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship in these young people.”

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According to the Department of Social Development and the City of Johannesburg’s programme coordinator, Zandile Zwane, “It is very important that young people are provided with the critical skills needed to empower themselves.”

The veggie tunnels are used as part of an ongoing project incorporated into the schools’ Adaptive Skills Programme. The garden at the school, where the Kale is grown, is used as a means of raising funds for the school which will go towards subsdising learners’ fees.

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Tudor Hall in South Africa

Each year, for the past 6 years, the Sparrow Foundation School has enjoyed the support of the United Kingdom based, Tudor Hall School for Girls. As part of their Tudor in 3 Continents program, the school disperses to community service projects around the world including South America, India and Africa.

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This annual program is aimed at instilling the value of giving time and broadening the minds of learners to the world outside of their comfort zone. It is also a huge cultural and social experience for both the Sparrow Foundation School and Tudor Hall School.

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The relationship between the Sparrow Foundation School and Tudor Hall started 8 years ago. This happened during one of the first ever Sparrow Schools Choir Tours in the UK and the relationship was developed by then Tudor Hall Governor, Heather Holden-Brown.

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The Sparrow Foundation School has hosted Tudor Hall for over six years running and their latest visit was on 24 October 2015, where they spent a week with the school. The Tudor Hall teachers spent their time working with the Foundation Schools’ teachers and assisting with after school programs. Meanwhile the Tudor learners spent most of their time with Foundation Schools’ pupils, teaching them how to play records and assisting them with their reading and writing.

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The school has also consistently offered financial support through the years. Over the two occasions that they have been to the Foundation School this year, they revamped the music room, sponsored a piano and revamped the schools’ reading corners.

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