Melanie Malema driving change

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have,” Magaret Mead. Since joining Sparrow Schools in 2002 and realising the huge divide in South Africa’s education system, New Business Development Manager at Sparrow Schools, Melanie Malema has made great strides bringing meaningful change to the lives of young persons.

Malema developed interest in the social space in the year 2000 when she was approached by a church in Bryanston, Johannesburg. She was invited to run and manage a home that was established for boys who were living on the streets. These boys faced various social issues such as drug abuse and did not attend school.  This is when she came across Sparrow Schools which was the perfect fit for such boys.

Her drive for uplifting and empowering young persons continued and led her to helping develop the Sparrow FET College in 2010. She embarked on an exploratory mission doing research and finally witnessing the registration of the college as a credible training provider that offers SETA accredited courses.

“The Sparrow FET College trains young people in short skills that have been jointly identified with industry. This model provides industry with a pipeline of young entry level candidates who wish to embark on a particular trade,” explains Malema. The identification of relevant companies is crucial to the training as this is where learners gain their practical work experience and ultimately leads to full time employment.

The partnership between the learner, The Sparrow FET College and industry has proven to be an effective model in producing qualified candidates in areas of short skills and successfully contributing towards the eradication of unemployment in the country.

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Grand Opening of RYCO South Africa

On 14 August 2015, hydraulics giant, RYCO opened its very first office and warehouse in South Africa. The launch in Midrand provided two of the Sparrow FET College students in the Fluid Power Hose Assembly programme with hands-on workplace interaction with industry experts. Furthermore, with networking in mind and being surrounded with industry leaders, our students got to speak to several guests concerning job openings, learnership and internship opportunities as well as basic knowledge sharing.

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Apart from the scrumptious light meals made by two of the Sparrow FET College Assistant Chef students, another spectacle was a piece of machinery called RYCO APS which has been recently imported from Australia. The machine is 4 meters in length and 40 meters in height. It stores all the equipment including couplings, fitters, hoses, and very user friendly. As described by the RYCO personnel, “it is a warehouse on its own” which ideally reduces human error in the sense that a client will be handed the correct item. It is also time-efficient, user-friendly and saves space.

The APS Machine

The APS Machine

In addition, the students were accompanied by the FET’s New Business Manager, Melanie Malema and job coaches Kholofelo Mokwele and Mary Webber to inform the special guests more about our Fluid Power Hose Assembly skills programme.

The Sparrow FET College continues to assist students by not only providing quality education but also a gateway to the workplace which asserts our statement of continuing to inspire action and changing lives.

Words by Motlhabane Modupe.

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No money is no excuse

Sparrow Schools Educational Trust takes pride in being able to continually provide effective solutions to resolving South Africa’s education crisis, helping eradicate poverty and unemployment. Although the country still faces serious challenges, great strides have been made to ensure that there is equal opportunity for all. However, South Africa faces another hurdle in its pursuit for equality for all, Gender Discrimination.

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According to statistics published by the South African Revenue Service, “women earn nearly a third less than men on average in South Africa.” Women are faced with the challenge of having to do twice the work to prove their worthiness. The patriarchal status quo continues to be the hindering factor in many South African women’s lives.

However, just as South Africans fought to put an end to an unjust Apartheid system, the fight against gender discrimination is very much alive. Some young women are choosing to break down gender stereotypes and refuse to be victims. Emily Phepheng, is just one of many young women who have had to overcome great hurdles.

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The young woman from Limpopo fell victim to a tale old as time. Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, boy and girl fall in love, girl falls pregnant and the father avoids responsibility. Phepheng fell pregnant at 20 years and the father left her to fend for herself. “I remember how difficult it was, I was young and I did not know how I was going to handle it,” Phepheng says.

Instead of taking the easy road and wallowing in despair, Phepheng enrolled at the Sparrow FET College for a Fluid Power Hose Assembly Skills Program. Despite the hydraulics industry being male dominated, Phepheng is on a mission to break down the stereotype. Her persistence and dedication earned her the title as class captain from a class dominated by males.

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Now 27 years old and a single mother of 2, she is now a permanent employee at hydraulics company, Alfagomma. She remains unfazed and continues to conquer the gender stereotypes. Her motivation comes from wanting to inspire her peers, moving them to take a stand and conquer their fears. “Do not focus on not having money, I went to Sparrow and got more information and here I am now,” Phepheng stresses.

The next milestone in Phepheng’s books is to get into logistics and take her career a step further. Speaking on how her life has changed since joining Sparrow, she explains, “I can now focus on more important things, I can focus on my kids and take care of them. I am a much more responsible mother.”

In respect of women’s month, we will continue to profile women whose lives have been changed. We will also be profiling the women playing crucial roles in ensuring that Sparrow Schools Educational trust continues to inspire action and change lives.

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Spar program overview

“Creating a better world requires teamwork, partnerships, and collaboration, as we need an entire army of companies to work together to build a better world within the next few decades. This means corporations must embrace the benefits of cooperating with one another,” Simon Mainwaring.

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Through partnership with industry, Sparrow FET College continues to make great strides in ensuring that its vision and mission of equipping youth with skills is realised. The FET College strives to build strong partnerships with members and representatives from various industries.

Through these partnerships, the College is able to offer bursary programs and learnership opportunities to students who would normally not be able to further their education.

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On 24 June 2015, The FET College hosted Store Supervisors and managers from various Spar outlets across the country for a Professional Cookery program overview. The program is designed to provide SPAR with a recruitment pool of suitably trained youth; the program trains the student towards the completion of the Professional Cookery @ NQF level 4.

The day kicked off with the visitors being served welcome drinks and canapés by the students. Job Coach, Mary Webber, then proceeded to the nitty gritty’s of the whole purpose of the session, going through logbooks, clarifying roles of both the supervisors, managers and the students._DSC0209

From there, the visitors got an opportunity to meet and interact with the Professional Cookery students. The students also got the opportunity to showcase their skills and treated the visitors to lunch prepared by them.

The relationship between the College and Spar continues to enjoy much success with the Assistance Chef program achieving a 69% employment rate. The success of the College’s vision and mission to provide young South Africans with a livelihood relies on these sorts of partnerships. These kinds of collaborative initiatives provide an opportunity to improve the lives of dis-empowered young South Africans. They contribute to the larger objective of uplifting the country’s economy and the well-being of those marginalized in our society.

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Sparrow FET College making great strides

South Africa continues to be plagued by skills shortages partly due to our country’s inability to develop, utilize and retain enough human capital. The lack of investment in skills development has been identified as one of the critical restrictions to economic growth and employment creation by government.

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The scourge of skills shortages contributes to building social ills, leaving our country with high unemployment levels. Although South Africa is considered by many to be the Economic hub of Africa, a lack of skills shortages presents our country as one of the most unequal societies in the world.

Sparrow FET College together with its various industry partners continues to champion the fight against this lack of skills shortages. In 2014, the FET College continued in its pursuit to partner with different industry players including Spar, Pirtek, Belgotex, Imperial and many others to provide youth with critical and scarce skills.

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Through the past year, these partnerships have proved to be efficient in producing qualified artisans. Many of our graduates are now fulltime employees and some have been absorbed by our partners. The most notable successes were from the Automotive Repair & Maintenance, Assistant Chef and Power Fluid Hose Assembly programs. The aforementioned programs achieved employment successes of 81%, 69% and 68% respectively. Across all programs, we can prove that 60% of our graduates gain full-time employment.

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Credit must be given to the Sparrow Trust employees who played major role in ensuring these successes. This particularly includes the qualified FET facilitators who bring with them a wealth of experience. Most students who enrol into the FET come from disadvantaged backgrounds and bring with them a sense of disillusionment and find it hard to believe that they can succeed in life. This is where the quality of our facilitators comes into play. Because of the facilitators, a lot of the students gradually realise that there is still a fighting chance. “The trick is to not only focus on the study material because I have also taught these students the value that is respect. If you give them respect, this contributes to their self-esteem and self-worth. I try and put them in the employer’s shoes and ask themselves this question, ‘which employee do you think you would employ amongst yourselves?’ says Power Fluid Hose Assembly facilitator, Parker Shamiel.

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It is only through skills development that we are able to continue to successfully produce self-reliant young people. This helps provide South Africa’s economy with a competitive advantage over the rest of the world.

 

Aphiwe’s journey

Aphiwe Stungu

With 25 years of experience in the education and skills training field it is not hard to believe the great success stories that surface at Sparrow Schools.  Triumphant stories of individuals that have risen above their social circumstances and succeeded against their learning challenges. Amongst such stories is that of Aphiwe Stungu, a 19 year old female that enrolled into the Automotive Repair & Maintenance program. The Port Elizabeth born student thanks her uncle’s intervention for making her dream become a reality back in 2011 by insisting on the FET route. Young Aphiwe followed in her motor mechanic brother’s footsteps, “Seeing my brother fix anything made me fall in love with the Superwoman idea,” Aphiwe laughs.

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It wasn’t long till Aphiwe made a name for herself, impressing the facilitators with her ‘doing things properly’ attitude. Being the only girl in the program didn’t faze her she says and nor did it make it easy. The hard working lady says there were no favours received for her female card, she had to toughen up and get used to the realities of her chosen field. The good reputation carried over to the workplace where she was placed and enrolled with one of our industry partners- Germiston Kia Motors, through Imperial’s four years apprenticeship program. With each level she passes she gets an increase in wage, a great incentive for her to do well and take her studies seriously.

Aphiwe with Motor Mechanic facilitator Mr Errol

Aphiwe with Motor Mechanic facilitator Mr Errol

Aphiwe completed her apprenticeship program and  hopes to specialize in Diagnostic Mechanics and, who knows, maybe work for Ferrari as well. Jurgen Krause, her mentor and supervisor in the workplace says her work ethic, determination and ability to dream beyond her reality will be rewarded. Seeing Aphiwe climb up the ladder is great motivation for the staff at Sparrow Schools who work tirelessly in making a difference in the youth and country. We can’t wait to hear more from this lady on the rise.

Source : Givengain