Itumeleng Letoane is a true testament of second chances and trying again.
Raised in the Free State township of Thabong near Welkom, Itumeleng had, by all accounts, a happy childhood. Together with, his little brother and two of their cousins, he grew up steadily under the doting eye of his grandmother, Bulawa Elizabeth Letoane. He studied until Grade 10, after which he moved to Pretoria and began living with his aunt. Whilst in Pretoria, he faced his first struggle, trying to enrol in a school for Grade 11, but failing to get placed due to the school year already having started. After this, he managed to get enrolled into an Electrical Engineering course at Centurion Campus. It was here that his real struggles began.
“The freedom at a college changed me,” he recounts. “I stopped attending classes and started drinking and smoking cigarettes and dagga.” His new lifestyle had a negative effect on his grades, and he began failing his classes. “When I started failing my subjects and being unruly, my auntie sent me back to my grandma.” Back where he started, even under the watchful eye of his grandmother, Itumeleng’s behaviour got worse. “I joined gangs to satisfy my habits of smoking and drinking and became affiliated with a notorious local gang.¨ He became so entrenched in gang life he began to slip onto the wrong side of the law. He was arrested numerous times, but always managed to avoid a sentencing conviction. This was when Itumeleng finally decided to take his life into his own hands and change for the better. In 2007, he sat his grandmother down and announced he was moving to Jo´burg.
“What was left for me (in Thabong), was prison or being killed by a rival gang.” All his grandmother said to him was “Ke nako (it’s time)¨.
With her words in his heart, Itumeleng arrived in Johannesburg, determined to find a new life. At first, Itumeleng struggled, trying to eke out a living on the streets of Johannesburg. He came across an NGO that ran a job rehabilitation project and after spending some time doing odd jobs for them secured training and a job as a security guard. Still, he felt his life was not entirely in his control, and so he kept looking for more opportunities to better himself.
Whilst browsing the internet one day, he found an advertisement for Sparrow Schools, and by January 2015, he was enrolled in the Installation of Floor Covering course. That same year, he took a chance and registered his company; looking forward to the day he would complete the project and work for himself. He learnt to install all sorts of flooring, from laminates to artificial grass, and gained valuable experience at Combined Flooring.
Finally, he felt he had the skills needed to take the next step, and he began running his company, Ituway Flooring. The road has been long and hard, but Itumeleng feels he is finally where he is meant to be, in charge, focused, and with a bright future ahead of him. He has a word of advice for young matriculants, “Pray, get up, know what you want; seek it persistently until you win.”
Our next in-take is July 2017, so call 011 673 4410/19 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an assessment.
Thapelo Motsa, fresh out of school and the first student from Sparrow FET College (Further Educational Training) to be offered an apprenticeship at Lindsey Saker.
Thapelo Motsa left school in 2015 and had no idea what he wanted to do with his life:
“I felt so lost after finishing my matric…Going to university was not a liable option for me due to financial issues that my mother and I experienced. Sometimes I would have to talk 15km from my home in Soweto to get to school when money for transport ran out.”
In 2016 Thapelo registered at Sparrow FET College in Sophiatown to study Automotive Repair & Maintenance (NQF Level 2).
“I had my doubts about at the beginning of the course but when I started the practical work placement, all the theory and learning at the college fell into place.”
Thapelo completed his six month work placement in January 2017 at Lindsey Saker, which is is one of South Africa’s oldest car brands. After he finished his course, Thapelo did not have a job lined up, but his strong work ethic and determination did not let this negatively impact his life.
“There would be no benefit if I had stayed at home, so I decided to stay on and volunteer at Lindsey Saker. I managed to save some of my stipends from Sparrow FET College so I could afford the transport costs.”
For a month and a half, Thapelo volunteered at the company and impressed his manager through his work ethic, enthusiasm to learn and determination to succeed. Last week, Thapelo was delighted to receive a permanent contract for a four year apprenticeship to qualify as a technician.
Sparrow FET College was a good transition from high school, to college to the workplace. I would advise anyone who has matriculated or anyone who is unsure what to do, to consider all your options. Sparrow FET College provides a great opportunity that other colleges and universities don’t provide, which is the the work experience; it is so vital in today’s economy!
Some of my friends who matriculated from school in 2015 are still unsure what to do, however one friend has just registered to study Professional Cookery at Sparrow FET College!
If you would like to find out more about the opportunity to receive a fully funded bursary to study Automotive Repair & Maintenance (NQF Level 2) then we want to hear from you.
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Bokang begun his journey with us at the Sparrow Foundation School in Grade 4. Previously Bokang was at a school, which has over 40 children per class and due to his barriers to learning, he could not cope and fell behind in his education.
‘I was in grade 4 and I could not read and I could hardly write… I really did not enjoy school.’
We asked Bokang how he found Sparrow Foundation School and his face lit up:
‘It was so nice. The classes were a lot smaller and I enjoyed the practical classes like cooking, woodwork and computer classes.’
Bokang has come a long way since he first started at Sparrow Schools. He practices reading regularly to his teacher and his handwriting has improved dramatically. He has now moved up to the Sparrow Combined School in Sophiatown, which is now known as the Sparrow Combined Technical Skills School offering a skills education programme with an NQF level 1 qualification: ‘General Certificate of Education: Technical Occupational’ specialising in one of the following skills: Business Commerce & Management Studies; Health Sciences & Social Services; Hospitality Studies; Civil Technology: (Woodworking & Timber). The new skills focused education will open doors for opportunities into further studies; access to NQF level 2 courses at colleges or into the field of work, which they have been trained in and is demanded by the South African economy. The skills education programme is 75% practical and 25% theoretical; Language (English and IsiZulu), Mathematics and Life Skills remain compulsory.
In January 2017, Bokang was selected by the teachers to be a prefect at the Combined School. His polite manner, good behaviour and caring nature is evident to all who meet him. Whilst talking to Bokang about his experience at Sparrow, he politely excused himself, to run down the playground to help a Sparrow FET College student who was in a wheelchair and struggling to get up a ramp.
He continued to talking about his experience at the Combined School and his love of the new skills programme and the Civil Technology: (Woodworking & Timber) class.
‘It is such a nice school, I am proud to be perfect at Sparrow Schools.”
For more information on the new Sparrow Combined Technical Skills School call 011 673 3558.
Obakeng Namane grew up Thembisa and developed an interest in fixing cars in his community, which ultimately led to him pursuing a career in motor mechanics.
A friend told Obakeng about the opportunity to obtain a bursary to study at Sparrow FET College and he enrolled on the Automotive Repair & Maintenance programme in July 2016.
“Sparrow FET College is different from other colleges; it is a great opportunity to learn theory at the college and gain practical experience during the work placement.”
Obakeng is currently working at Ford in Kempton Park for his six month placement and is hoping to continue his studies to get the full qualification, ‘Light Vehicle Technician’ which will take four years to complete. Obakeng is hungry for knowledge and passionate about the field that he is in.
“I would like to start my own business so I can help and mentor high school children who are interested in working in the industry. I have started from the ground up and I have been given such an amazing opportunity through Sparrow FET to have a fully funded qualification in Automotive Repair and Maintenance.”
“You are changing a lot of people’s lives! I believe it starts with the community, which then builds on to change the nation. You should be proud of your investment – Thank you!”Details
Sparrow FET College staff Melanie Malema (Sparrow FET College Operations Manager), Wellington Mpukuta (Training and Curriculum Development Manager) and Mary Webber (Sparrow FET College Client Liaison) receive award at the National Skills Conference.
Sparrow FET College were delighted to receive the prestigious award to recognise their work in vocational training of youth in South Africa. The award was announced during South Africa’s third National Skills Conference on 23rd March 2017. The conference was hosted by the National Skills Authority (NSA) a department which falls under the Department for Higher Education and Training as part of a solution seeking mechanism to help address the current skills shortage needs in South Africa.
The title of the conference was ‘Skills development for an integrated and differentiated Post-School Education and Training system: Past, present and future.” The objective of the conference was to discuss and allow the different sectors including, private and government colleges, businesses partners and community based projects to provide input into the NSA commission for skills development in South Africa.
Key topics in the commission included:‘Turning every workplace into a training space’ and ‘Technical- vocational training development for the 21st century workplace’ with the aim to enhance the pathway of learners and artisans into the workplace. The conference was attended by over a thousand delegates and high profile speakers in the field of skills development including the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr B E Nzimande and the Deputy President – Hon C Ramaphosa.
“Let us ensure that the post-school system is aligned and geared to achieve the South African dream of total social and economic emancipation for all… skills development in South Africa must be aligned to the economic and political priorities of the country, namely the reduction of unemployment and poverty.” (Dr. B. Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training)
“Our affiliation with the NSA is crucial; their mandate is to conduct research, implement and influence policy making pertaining to skills shortage in South Africa. Sparrow FET College is guided by the above by implement relevant training to address the skills shortage amongst the youth of our country and support the vision of “Its cool to be a 21st Century Artisan” Melanie Malema, Sparrow FET College Operations Manager.
What role and initiatives do you think business should play in higher education in order to increase access to post school education? Please leave your comments below.
Dudu Makgomba has come on a long way in the three years since she first stepped foot into Sparrow FET (Further Educational Training) College back in 2014. After completing her Assistant Chef at NQF Level 2 skills programme including three months practical workplace experience at Rondebult Spar in Germiston, she has embarked on a successful and varied catering career. Dudu went on to work at OR Tambo airport for a company that supplies meals to passengers on the planes, she then worked as a private chef in Sandton and set up her own business called THICK D’s Bakery, where she baked cakes for celebratory events such as baby showers. She has now accepted a once in a lifetime job opportunity to work as a chef in the kitchens of the 5* hotel and restaurant – Ocean H Hotel in the USA. Dudu has been offered a 12 month contract, with a great salary, all accommodation, expenses and flights included. Although she spoke about her nerves, as this is the first time out of the country and does not know anyone else, Dudu is excited for the amazing opportunity.
“It was my ambition to travel, so this is a dream come true!”
Despite being so driven and ambitious, Dudu was not always lucky in life and had to work hard to get to where she is today. Born and raised in Bushbuckridge, a town seven hours away from Johannesburg in Mpumalanga, South Africa, Dudu has come a long way from Johannesburg and now to America. Her mother was also a driven business women who was the first lady to have electricity in her home in Bushbuckridge. However it was her grandmother who sparked her love of cooking and taught her the core ingredient of cooking…. Patience.
“No one else in my family can bake; it is all about being patient.”
Dudu matriculated in 2006 and had completed an cooking course but was unable to find a job. She found out about Sparrow FET College through online research, where she read about the opportunity for a bursary in Assistant Chef.
“I had a great experience. It was at Sparrow where I learnt about pastry and baking, which inspired me to set up my own cake making business. What I like about Sparrow is that is gives a lot of people opportunities and financial support to make education possible. I thank Sparrow for the opportunity that you provided me.”
Sparrow wishes Dudu all the luck in the next chapter of her exciting career and will continue to support and train young people to gain skills and experience in various industries so if you would like to find out more about the opportunity to receive a fully funded bursary to study Professional Cookery (NQF Level 4) or Assistant Chef (NQF Level 2), then we want to hear from you.
firstname.lastname@example.org / +2711 673 4410 or 4419Details
Kagiso Confidence was brought up in a small village in Rustenburg called Moruleng. She was from a large family, the fourth of six children. Her mother worked at a hotel and her father was a truck driver. Although she came from a supportive, happy family, she recalled times of struggle in her childhood. Kagiso attended her local government school and enjoyed Maths and Science. She was interested in studying Engineering and initially started training at her local college in electrical engineering but had to stop her studies due to financial reasons. After six months of unemployment, Kaigso heard about the opportunity for free studies at Sparrow FET College through the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), based in the Rustenburg branch. After applying to study at Sparrow FET College, Kagiso was accepted onto the Automotive Repair and Maintenance Programme.
Initially concerned by the male dominated course, Kagiso commented:“The course was challenging but great! I learnt so much at Sparrow FET College, including the basics of wearing a uniform, being professional and time management.”
After completing six months at the College, Kagiso went on to work at Volkswagen and is now halfway through her six month practical placement.
“I am working so hard and remaining focused – there is so much to learn.’
Kagiso would like to remain at the company to complete an apprenticeship.
“Thank you so much for this opportunity that I would never have had if it were not for the funding available to provide me with the education and stipends; it has helped me so much! I hope you continue change other people’s lives too. I would welcome the opportunity to meet you myself to thank you.”
Kagiso with her fellow students from Rustenburg (seventh person in the photo).Details
In July 2016, Nomsa Natacia Luthuli, a bright and young lady who grew up in Tsakane Township, located on the East Rand began a new chapter in her life. She signed up at the Sparrows FET (Further Educational Training) College to study Early Childhood Development (ECD).
Nomsa heard about the opportunity to study for free and gain invaluable practical workplace experience through a friend who worked at Sparrow and had asked Nomsa to support Sparrow by taking part in the Spinathon and 947 ‘Walk the Talk’ in aid of Sparrow Schools.
Nomsa had previously been running a catering business, which she stopped in November 2015 and although her love of cooking remains, she decided to follow her lifelong interest in childhood development.
“Children express themselves differently where I am from and I want to learn more about teaching and child development so I can go back to the community where I was brought up and share what I have learnt.”
After completing six months of theory at Sparrow FET College, Nomsa started her work placement at Cubby House Preschool. This friendly preschool, is a new centre, which opened in January 2016 catering for children from the age of 2-6 years. Six weeks in she reflects on her experience, highlighting the importance of encouraging children to use their words and express themselves confidently.
“You have to choose your words and the way you say them so carefully, as it can really impact the child’s confidence and the way they express themselves.”
It was inspiring to watch Nomsa working with a 4 year old girl who has attended Cubby House since January 2016. The girl, who lives with her grandmother, did not speak any English and was very shy but since attending Cubby House and receiving 1-on-1 attention, her language development, gross motor skills and learning of colours, letters and numbers have improved dramatically.
The manager of Cubby House, Sharon Konstantinou spoke about how impressed she has been with Nomsa fitting into the preschool in such a short space of time:
“I don’t have to tell her what to do, she assesses a situation, uses her initiative and is always happy to step in.”
Although this is the first time that Sparrow’s FET candidate have been placed at Cubby House, Sparrow have previous connections with Cubby House’s sister organisation, Nic’s House, which supports children with special needs. Two students who completed their studies at Sparrow FET College have now been employed full time at Nic’s House.
Nomsa plans to start a weekend childcare business, as she believes there is a need with lots of parents working on the weekends and struggling to find good quality childcare. She hopes to go back to the community where she grew up and share the teaching methods that she has learnt to support the confidence and development of children from Tsakane Township.
‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.’ (Henry Adams)
Arrangement Solidifies CFI’s Footing in South Africa
February 22, 2017 – Dallas, TX –Today Robert Varden, Vice President, CFI, announced a partnership with South African based FiTA to bring ongoing floor covering installation training classes and certification to professionals throughout the country and beyond.
Nearly 10 years ago, CFI began working with Belgotex Floorcoverings, a carpet manufacturer based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa to help establish a formal training program and institute qualification guidelines for professional installers.
“At the time we entered this market there were no set standards and no rules governing flooring installation in the country,” Said Varden. “The lack of qualified installers in the flooring industry is a global issue. In 2013, The South African Flooring Industry Training Association was formed to address the installation crisis facing the flooring industry. Great strides have been made working with both trade and government officials to clearly define necessary schooling and hands on training requirements for installation professionals that will be overseen by the government and will be required to practice the trade.”
CFI, together with FITA South Africa, will continue to facilitate installation training and accreditation through apprenticeship programs for entry level flooring installers who undergo comprehensive hands-on and classroom training, ‘Prior Learning’ accreditation will be made available for installers who are already working and have experience.
South Africa represents a population of nearly 53 million people. “This arrangement benefits everyone in the field with set standards and guidelines that will be the same across the board,” Varden stated.
To date, over 150 graduates have completed the 12-month training program and apprenticeship and now hold a National Certificate Installation of Floor Coverings. This recognition is exclusively issued by the South African Government appointed Construction Education Training Authority, who facilitates and funds skill development in the construction sector. Through an additional regional partner, Belgotex Floorcoverings, CFI and FiTA have entered an arrangement with local youth endowment organizations to bring installation training to school children in grades 6th to 10th. Upon completion, these students will have a floor laying skill which will enable them to find a job as an entry level flooring installer upon graduation.
“Our partnership with the South African Flooring Industry Training Association is yet another step forward in achieving our goals of continuing to lead the way in installation training, increasing our global footprint and helping our industry both domestically and internationally keep pace with the ever changing business landscape,” Varden said in closing.
For more information on CFI and their programs both domestically and internationally please visit the CFI website at http://www.cfiinstallers.org. You may also call 816-231-4646.
The International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association, Inc. (CFI) is a division of the WFCA that is devoted to installation training and certification through a team of dedicated trainers who share their experience and knowledge to help others help themselves. The enthusiasm for doing this continues to grow.
CFI provides educational resources for the industry through inspection, installation, estimating, product knowledge, and patterned and woven carpet, hardwood, ceramic, laminate and resilient flooring training. CFI provides teams of skilled craftsmen to assist when called upon for installations by dealers and manufacturers.’)
I don’t think we have ever seen anyone with such a big smile, early on Monday mornings, like the smile on little Siyabonga Nkutha’s mom, Nozizwe’s face.
Sparrow Foundation School welcomed Siyanbonga to Grade 1 at the end of January, a few weeks after the rest of the learners had started the new academic school year
As a shy boy with autism, Siyanbonga had not been able to find a school that could support his special needs. But, one month in, we have all been surprised and delighted by how well he has settled into his new school.
“My son now hates the weekend, he always says “I want to go to school today” but I have to explain to him that school is closed on weekends.
“At first Siyabonga used to cry as I left him to go to school, he was so anxious! However, a week later, his behaviour changed! He now plays with other children and tells me how much he loves to go to his beautiful school,” explains Nozizwe.
Siyabonga was referred to Sparrow Foundation School through a play therapy clinic in Sophiatown, where he was diagnosed with autism. He previously attended a local school, which specialised in supporting children with ADHD but was not given the attention that he needed. Nozizwe explained how her son was often not in the classroom, as he was teased for being different and could not cope in a mainstream school.
“We didn’t understand what was wrong with him and I had no idea what autism was.” Nozizwe told us that she found the Autism South Africa website extremely useful in providing her with information on autism. Autism, as defined by Autism South Africa (A;SA) is:
…a developmental disability… people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely impaired.
Still a relatively unknown disability, Autism makes it difficult for parents, schools and communities to support children with special learning and social needs. However there is a lot of support available.
Sparrow Schools, specialises in, and provides a safe and friendly environment for children with learning disabilities to attend school. The small classroom size and the learner support unit (LSU), which supports the child holistically, can provide additional assistance to help with remedial educational needs.
If you would like to find out more about your child attending Sparrow Foundation School, please call +27 11 482 3520.Details