Recently, Sparrow Schools Educational Trust received an invitation to a Meet and Greet event with the Charities Aid Foundation of Southern Africa (CAFSA), in order to connect with like-minded individuals within the nonprofit sector. It was an exciting opportunity to learn more about CAFSA and the work they do, as well as to be able to meet different people with a similar vision to impact lives and make a difference in South Africa.
The aim of this event was to engage with CAFSA in a conversation about how we can share ideas and collaborate, as collaboration is a vital tool in building a sustainable and impactful change in South Africa. Whether collaboration is with corporates, CSI teams, individuals, government or other organisations within the nonprofit sector, ultimately we all have the same social justice mindset, and the vision to improve our country.
As part of the conversation, CAFSA has asked us to answer a few VOX pop up questions to be used in their social media and marketing. These questions were focused on social justice, and we wish to share our answers with our audience:
Why do you think a strong civil society is so important in South Africa?A strong civil society also allows us the platform in which people and organisations are able to advocate for the things they believe in and to solve problems in their communities. We believe that transformation for South Africa begins with its people, individuals, and communities. If we all believe in the same positive vision for the future then as a country we can do great things together. We believe a strong civil society is for a number of reasons, specifically
as an NPO where the non-government and non-profit organisation space has been a huge support in building up the economy. Based on a nonprofit statistical approach since 2017 there were 120 227 compliant NPIs operating in South Africa last year, that is a large number of compliant non-governmental organisations and institutions that were built for the sole purpose of some sort of social justice scheme they wish to support.
What more would you like to see action in order for us to achieve a stronger civil society? We need to support organisations and people who can help rebuild people’s confidence, especially those who try to improve schools & education, the government, the environment or whatever their communities need As an organisation, we would like to see a more focus made in the education sector, the youth and the underprivileged in South Africa. We need to bridge the gap and be part of the transformation to provide access to education from the most basic level. South Africa has made the effort to provide higher education to the youth of South Africa but at the same time, basic education for those who are disadvantaged should be highlighted and job creation prioritised for those receiving higher education and training.
Let’s also build on what people are already familiar with, this way we help them take ownership of the process of improving their communities (eg) Unemployment. You also need to make sure that everyone has a ‘voice” from the unemployed youth who has just graduated to the mother who cannot afford to send her child to school.
As Q1 of 2018 closes, what initiatives/partnerships are you particularly excited for in the rest of the year? The launch of the YES Program (Youth Employment Service) – YES is one of the first social compacts between government, business and labour created to give one million youth one million opportunities to succeed, while securing South Africa’s economic prosperity. Together with our FET programmes, we are able to impart technical skills and capabilities to young people and assist with work programs to provide experience
As an organisation, we wish to partner with this initiative as we believe we have a similar vision and goal and we believe that we can provide support to the government as well as receive support in order to build this initiative and assist our youth to reach their full potential. A joint partnership with CAFSA is also very exciting and your support would help us become more beneficial to our country and community.
What role does, or could, your sector play to strengthen civil society? Within the Non-profit sector, it can be said that we are able to strengthen civil society through communities and individuals that work with the purpose of building up young people and focusing on issues that we have in our country.
We believe this sector is a core aspect of the transformation of South Africa because the NPO sector can reach and affect the lives of individuals sometimes more effectively than government or with the support of the government. In terms of our organisation: Sparrow Schools. We have 3 schools established within our organisation.
We are able to reach cognitively disabled and disadvantaged youth who have the desire to learn a skill:
-We are able to provide learners with theory, practice and a real-world application approach to skills development and training.
-We are able to link graduates with industry by assisting with internships during which they are fully supported, comprehensively trained, and prepared for future employment.
This year, Sparrow Foundation School along with Charity Fusion and Rays of Hope established a bridging class for learners aged 6-8 coming from disadvantaged homes and who were unable to attend preschool. The bridging class focuses on learning through play and intends to prepare the children for Grade 1. This class was formed recognizing the need in providing a preparatory pathway for children, as a major challenge the Foundation School faces is that some children entering into the school have no previous form of schooling and children would often experience additional challenges in their first year of schooling, thus deterring them from moving to the next grade with ease. Therefore, a bridging class became the most suitable avenue for these children in order to support them and allow access to basic education, as well as, creating a safe haven and positive learning environment.
The main aim of the Bridging Class is to provide an opportunity for these children to further develop their skills and knowledge in a comfortable and happy environment where they feel encouraged and involved. With this in mind, Deputy Principal; Lindsay Stephen and the HOD of Foundation Phase, Maritza de Vries, developed a curriculum to suit the needs of the children by combining principles of Grade R and Grade 1. This tailored curriculum allows learning to be a practical approach whilst assisting with the language barriers and concentrating on specialized activities in developing the learners’ cognitive abilities and motor skills which will support them to gradually move into formal academic learning without feeling too overwhelmed. The hope of this class is to accommodate their needs so that they become self-motivated to learn, and to allow them the opportunity to apply themselves and expose their individuality so that they are able to build on their personal and academic skills. Not only is this class a means to provide a comfortable and safe pathway towards their education but it is an opportunity to help disadvantaged children by creating a safeguarded space where they feel worthy and appreciated.
The curriculum developed is based on building on prior knowledge, learning through play and specialised activities to assist with the children’s overall academic, behavioral and emotional development and will remain a fun and playful learning experience too; it focuses on fundamentals such as literacy and numeracy, computers, gospel and life skills. Life skills is a vital part of the curriculum in the development of young minds, concentrating on beginning knowledge, personal and social well-being, physical education and arts and craft. The idea of creating a safe environment also means keeping classes small and intimate, so it is centralized around each individual learner. Having dedicated, committed teachers and volunteers, Jessica Moore and Marleen contribute to the notion of having a schooling environment making learning fun.
This would be the first year for the Bridging Class and Sparrow is thrilled to bring new changes and be a part of these children’s educational journey and development. As time passes the idea for the class would be to allow the children an opportunity to continue their education with the correct fundamentals in place. At the end of term 3, the learners would have completed assessments which will be evaluated, thus determining if these learners would repeat or move onto Grade 1, but depending on the age of the learners, there might be a possibility to refer them to a more specialised needs school or training center.
Lastly, we believe the Bridging Class will be an integral part of Sparrow education and it will bring on momentous improvements not only for the children but the organization as a whole.Details
Situated in Sophiatown, The Sparrow Combined Technical Skills School is an accredited institution providing fundamental and vocational training to learners with remedial needs, thus enabling them to access jobs in which they would be trained to excel. The Combined Technical Skills school emerged as a pathway for our learners exiting the Foundation School and seeking to further their education. It also provided and opportunity for learners to enter into the Sparrow FET College.
The Combined Technical Skills School has recently received the Umalusi accreditation, which you can read about in our previous post (http://sparrowschoolsblog.co.za/2018/01/15/sparrow-combined-technical-high-school-receives-umalusi-accreditation/) this achievement ensures that Sparrow continuously provides quality education to our students and enables the school to monitor and evaluate education practices effectively in order to align with the correct framework and requirements set before the council.
Finally, at Combined, our learners are provided with the necessary occupational skills, enabling them to attain an NQF level 1 qualification within the duration of four years. Like the Foundation School, the Combined School adopts a learner-centered approach, as we teach towards potential, and are constantly mindful of individual learner strengths and weaknesses.Details
Sparrow Foundation School emerged as an influx of learners grew and Sparrow needed larger premises to accommodate our children as well acknowledging the demand for children coming from disadvantaged homes to have access to education, specifically children with remedial needs and barriers to learning. As specialised schools with remedial teaching and learning facilities are often not easily accessible to the community, Sparrow aimed to provide affordable education to those who are unable to access those specialised services.
Sparrow Foundation School offers accredited learning from Grades 1-7 and provides services such as an educational psychologist, counselors and onsite speech therapy which contribute to a holistic learning environment that adheres to emotional and academic progress. At the school, learners experience a hands-on approach to learning where they are assessed based on their improvements rather than a typical grading system. The school inspires to be attentive to an individual’s strengths and weakness and provide extra-mural activities such as pottery, drums, sewing and sports amongst others in order to allow our students to better their cognitive abilities and motor skills.
Sparrow Combined Technical Skills High School is part of a pilot project in conjunction with the Department of Education. Sparrow Combined Technical Skills High School aims to provide vocational training and specialised education to our learners over a four year period where learners are awarded with an NQF level 1 qualification.This General Certificate of Education is recognised by the GDE and SETA. With this accreditation, the Combined Technical Skills School offers a fully accredited occupational skills programme, enabling learners with remedial needs to gain access to educational and skills development training. The Combined Technical Skills High School also provides a pathway for students entering from the Foundation School as well as learners who may further their education with the Sparrow FET College.
The Umalusi Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education aims to oversee the activities regarding Private institutions and independent schools in South Africa. The Umalusi council aims to bridge the gap where government bodies were unable to conduct research on matters relating to private institutions and independent schools. The aim of the council is to mandate research and development for education and training as a whole as well as provide an opportunity for institutions to register and receive accreditation to deliver quality education and service for private providers of education. The Council’s research agenda and research projects are supported and critiqued by a Research Forum consisting of prominent academics and experts.In accrediting institutions Umalusi is guided by policy documents that contain criteria for accreditation for each institutional type.
Umalusi is mandated to accredit private providers of education and training and grants institutions a license to operate in South Africa. As stated in the Umalusi accreditation, all private institutions should be accredited in order to operate within South Africa. With this seen foresight, the Combined Technical High School applied for an Umalusi accreditation beforehand in order to be ahead within the industry and be a licensed training provider. Sparrow believes that accreditation is imperative in providing vocational training to our learners.
The quality assurance process attests the institution but allows for improvements in order to better education practices. The council evaluated all policies and procedures within Sparrow Combined Technical High School, from employee registration, student enrolment, teaching practices, curriculum development as well as the disciplinary processes.
Approval was granted and we were happy to announce the Umalusi received status to the Combined Technical Skills High School. This accreditation confirms the quality of provision offered and allows Sparrow to continually monitor the education practices efficiently to remain in line with the framework and requirements set before the council, therefore monitoring and evaluating performance to be compliant and ultimately enable Sparrow as an institution to provide quality education for our learners.Details
What started as a Saturday morning school in 1989 with only four learners has developed into an ever-growing Non-Profit Educational Trust, catering for children with learning disabilities and upskilling the youth of South Africa.
Sparrow schools has expanded into three institutions, namely the Foundation School for young learners with remedial and special needs, Sparrow Combined Technical Skills School and Sparrow FET College, catering for more than 600 youth from impoverished communities. These three projects are all aimed at empowering learners to prosper in the educational sector and thereafter in the working environment. Learners acquire the necessary skill sets offered at the institutions to allow them to be a part of a prospering society and economy.Details
No words can describe the level of positivity and motivation Thabo possesses. He is such an inspiring man, always laughing and persevering to challenge himself regardless of the obstacles he faced.
Thabo suffered a severe stroke which left him in a wheelchair, losing mobility in his hands as well as paralyzing the right side of his face. However, this did not limit him at all, he strived to overcome this tragedy and spent a year training himself to walk on crutches and today as I write this story he was able to stand on his own to take a picture.
Before attending Sparrow FET, he was vendor selling ladies jewelry and working at the Health Department with general administrative work. He then completed a Business Administration course in 2010 and while considering studying further he heard about Sparrow FET through a friend who completed a painting course with. They then both decided to join Sparrow FET college and became great friends and a strong support system. He says that he is extremely grateful to have a this support system because he does not have any children nor is he married although he believes that those aspects are true blessings and it will be provided God willingly.
Thabo decided to complete the End user course in order become self-reliant and independent to aid with his construction business in his neighbourhood. He has become a great motivation to everyone he meets and his advice to anybody with similar circumstances is to never give up, to get an education because knowledge is power. He says that life itself isn’t that hard but the way in which we approach and deal with it depicts what we make of it.Details
Kayla Louw is a vibrant, bubbly and confident 18 year old young lady that is determined to reach her dreams and aspirations.
Prior to Sparrow Combined Technical School, Kayla briefly attended Blairgowrie Primary School and then moved onto homeschooling for two years. Her decision to be homeschooled was due to her having no interest in school because of the environment she was in.
Although, the decision to be homeschooled seemed sensible at the time, she started to become despondent. As a result, she was demotivated and stopped swimming with her swimming team, this coming as a shock to her as well as her friends and family as swimming was her outlet that kept her motivated. Kayla became extremely lonely due to the lack of social interaction while being homeschooled.
Regardless of these challenges, Kayla was determined to continue her education and decided to find a school that would be able to assist and accept her in the middle of a school term. Kayla then heard about Sparrow Combined Technical School and was certain it would be the best fit for her.
Kayla has always been a headstrong and focused student, but as her Grade 9 year started coming to an end she became anxious on what the following years held in store for her. However, because of her work ethic and her focus on academics, she was accepted by Sparrow FET College to study Information Technology: End User Computing at Sparrow FET College in 2018. She was grateful knowing she had direction moving into 2018.
Kayla’s future dream is to become a pilot. She has endless potential and despite her challenges and mental obstacles she has faced, she continues to be determined and a role model in her community to help empower and guide young women around her.
Tshepo is an inspiring young man looking to make his mark internationally, one dish at a time.
He joined Sparrow’s FET College on July 4, 2016 and enrolled in the Professional Cookery course to obtain an NQF level 4 Qualification. He wanted to gain the necessary skills to fulfill his passion and enter into the hospitality industry.
Prior to Sparrow, Tshepo started a bakery at home, baking cakes, breads and muffins for his community in Rustenburg. He then heard about Sparrow through the National Youth Development Association and decided to apply online. After his assessments and interview, he was accepted into the course and was eager to start his journey in Professional Cookery. Tshepo graduated from Sparrow FET College and in 2017 started working at the Sandton Sun Hotel.
After realizing his talent, Tshepo wanted to test his new found talent and skills, by entering the Lucky Star competition in March, where he prepared a delicious terrine wrap. However, his journey in the Lucky Star Competition came to an end, as he was overqualified for their competition. Tshepo continued to put his talent and skills to the test by entering into another competition, the Unilever Chef of the Year, and was delighted to make it through to the Regional Finals Top 6 out of 1000 entrees, an outstanding achievement!
What does Tshepo’s future looks like?
Tshepo is a truly inspiring young man. At the age of 22 he has been selected to sail off and work in Miami as an Executive Chef on the Norwegian Cruise Lines Ship.
Sparrow FET College wishes him nothing but success on his future endeavors and we look forward to his visit at the College and hopefully teach us a few tricks of the trade.Details
To reiterate what Mandela has said time and time again, Education is a fundamental aspect in youth development and provides an opportunity to address social injustice by providing one of many solutions to the rising issue of youth unemployment.
With this in mind, Melanie Malema realised the need to bridge the gap between skills development and unemployment amongst our youth. With her passion for uplifting and empowering our youth she developed the Sparrow FET College in 2010, to train the students on our NQF accredited qualifications, thus providing an opportunity for employment in artisan work after their studies.
With the help from Melanie, Sparrow FET College was appointed by the First Rand Foundation to conduct extensive research in Mpumalanga, with the hopes to establish a college or to partner with existing institutions throughout the province, therefore taking Sparrow Schools national.
Over the next few months, she will be interviewing government officials, community’s leaders, principals of colleges, youth, industry and other stake holders.
Once Sparrow identifies the needs for the youth in Mpumalanga, these findings will be presented to the First Rand Foundation and Sparrow Schools Educational Trust and together with Melanie this will continue to drive change in South Africa.Details