“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Mandela Month - Education Is The Way
Education, Education, Education! For WDB Investment Holdings, education is the cornerstone of all future growth, and for this reason, we have invested much time and effort in various initiatives, partnerships and programmes over the years.
As we are often reminded, Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” and during July we have taken time to reflect on the various education and training initiatives in which we are involved.
Our internship and youth mentorship programmes have seen a number of young people find their feet and move up in the corporate world.
WDBIH’s Rose Mamabolo says, “Our internship programme was started in 2017, when we recruited 10 graduates with finance/accounting qualifications. It was new ground for us then, but we have seen the difference that spending time at WDBIH has made in the lives of these young people who have emerged much more skilled, focused and confident.”
With WDBIH being an investment company, it only makes sense for the organisation to invest in the sector. Mamabolo says that WDBIH supports the Thuthuka Bursary Fund, which provides scholarships solely to students from disadvantaged communities who want careers as chartered accountants.
“The pandemic has highlighted the grave inequalities in our country – and while online learning became a solution for many learners during the lockdown school closures..”
The team might joke about Mamabolo and fellow director Thandie Mashego “hanging out with Oprah,” but that would be for a good reason too, as WDBIH also invests in scholarships for students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
For many years, WDBIH has been one of the key sponsors of the PRIMESTARS My Future, My Career initiative, which focuses on giving career guidance to over 14 000 learners from disadvantaged high schools. WDBIH also sponsors the Step Up 2 A Start Up PRIMESTARS initiative – an entrepreneurial and innovative programme for South African secondary school learners.
Being innovative is one of WDBIH’s core values and Covid-19 has certainly brought with it many opportunities to innovate. The pandemic has highlighted the grave inequalities in our country – and while online learning became a solution for many learners during the lockdown school closures, it meant that those with limited access to technology could not learn online.
Enter the PRIMESTARS EduCate Programme, a nationwide programme that delivers free maths and science revision classes to matriculants in underserved communities and which is aligned to the Department of Basic Education’s comprehensive recovery plan. WDBIH is again a partner in this initiative. If you would like to read more about or support the EduCate programme, you can do so here.
It was around this time last year that we were preparing to visit the Makola Primary School in Soweto, on Mandela Day, unfortunately something that is not possible this year during Covid-19.
Two years ago, WDBIH partnered with an NPO called Education is our Future to offer support for maths and English at the school from Grade R to Grade 7.
Mamabolo says, “Education is our Future began facilitation at Makola Primary School at the beginning of 2018. They have provided facilitators for the foundation phase as well as maths and English facilitators for intermediate phase. Continued support and intervention were provided through the course of 2018-2019 and currently in 2020.”
Perle Greenberg from Education is our Future says the intervention made all the difference.
“A marked increase in marks in mathematics and English has been seen in Makola Primary and 45 intermediate phase learners achieved over 80% in English last year. Over 20 learners in the school also showed more than 10% increases in their marks and this is especially important with learners who were previously below the 40% achievement threshold. English improvement is the focus as all subjects are taught in English from grade 4 onwards, so English improvement will improve reading and answering in other subjects as well.”
Although the results were extremely favourable for most students, Greenberg adds that the schools, learners and teachers continued to face challenges, and while there was a marked improvement in the second and third terms of 2019, marks of many students dropped in the last term – which is something that was being addressed before the Covid-19 situation happened.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has affected our schools tremendously as many parents and learners cannot access online learning resources, meaning many learners are falling further behind,” says Greenberg. “Our team has had to adapt and evolve our methods to try to provide support to teachers and learners from afar and we have tried to reach learners without having to use online methods.”
The organisation used worksheets to assist learners in being able to work from home, and although certain grades have been permitted to go back to school, there is still a need to provide some sort of structure for learners who are currently unable to attend school.
For Greenberg and her team, there was also a need to emphasise awareness and education around the pandemic and assist the principal and teachers in getting the message of safety-first across to everyone.
“We have delivered posters and infograms about the pandemic as well as health and safety at schools to be placed around the schools. The team has also planned Covid-19 workshops and education sessions to be conducted once every two weeks (especially with foundation phase as they begin to phase in).
“The Covid-19 pandemic has affected our schools tremendously as many parents and learners cannot access online learning resources, meaning many learners are falling further behind.”
The teachers at Makola have also expressed concern about their health and the principal worries that some teachers may ask to stay at home, The Education for our Future team is assisting in preparing supplementary lessons.
“All in all, our objective is to relieve some of the panic and stress around this pandemic at Makola Primary School with productive and remedial learning, as well assist some of our high achievers in enabling them to reach and extend beyond their potential,” says Greenberg.
Celebrating the Madiba Spirit
While there will be no visits from the WDBIH team to the Makola School this Mandela Day, Wendy Groenewald from WDBIH chatted to Principal Sabina Lukhulweni about the school’s current needs.
As a result, WDBIH will be supplying the school with PPE and additional COVID-19 informative signage boards to be placed at the entrance to the school and around the school premises.
Groenewald says, “Another urgent need is proper sanitisation stations, and WDBIH will be providing these as soon as schools re-open.
WDBIH believes the spirit of Mandiba should present throughout the year and will continue to honour his memory through continued support and investment in the school and the company’s other initiatives.