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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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Sparrow Schools joins third industrial revolution

Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing is taking the world by storm and Sparrow Schools is joining the revolution. With just a click of a button, you can turn a digital file into an actual physical 3D part object. Many manufacturing industries have also joined the wave. According to a Wohlers Report 2014, the 3D printing industry is expected to grow and exceed the $21B mark in worldwide revenue by 2020.

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After being approached by two University of Cape Town students who started a programme called 3D for Schools, the Sparrow Foundation School is looking to integrate 3D printing into the school’s maths, science and technology curriculum.  For instance in the mathematics subject, while learners are taught about shapes, through 3D printing, they will be able to physically develop the shapes, giving them a better grasp of volume, height and width.

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Furthermore, 3D printing will take its remedial intervention plans to a whole new level, particularly for autistic learners. It has been found that autistic children learn differently from their peers.  They have difficulty visualising concepts and relating to stories or pictures on a page.

The Foundation Schools’ autistic learners were tasked with designing floor plans for their dream houses. They failed when they drew on paper but thanks to 3D printing, they successfully completed the floor plans in 2 days after using Sketchup (3D modelling computer programme). People with autism are visually gifted, they think in pictures. In this sense, 3D printing is one of the tools that can help them express their ideas and creativity.

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The 3D printing programme also aims to inspire and trigger thoughts in young minds. It seeks to keep them up-to-date with the third industrial revolution, driven by additive manufacturing (3D printing).  The programme will also instill the spirit of entrepreneurship in learners from an early age considering that the industry is going mainstream. “We are already starting to see businesses, both large and small, take advantage of 3D printers to create customized designs or follow blueprints. The real appeal lies in speedy prototyping and increased accessibility,” says Chris Elsworthy, CEO of CEL, the makers of the Robox 3D printer.


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