Education needs both state and business

Zandile Kunene

Zandile Kunene

Legislation aimed at correcting imbalances in education has not yet benefitted the majority of South African children.

Findings of a national study by the South African Human Rights Commission show that black and rural children get an inferior education compared with pupils in affluent urban areas.

Though education was allocated about R92,1billion during the 2006-07 financial year and an additional R4,6billion for teacher bursaries, curriculum development and higher education, the money must be spread too thinly to have any positive or long-term effect.

Education needs funding, something that public-private partnerships and corporate social investment can provide. In addition to sharing resources, each party shares in the risks and rewards related to the delivery of the service.

The Treasury's public-private partnership unit has facilitated investment of R6billion. Public-private partnerships are investing in the country, communities and the social upliftment of their own staff. They are also investing in improving their corporate image.

The BHP Billiton Development Trust has injected millions of rands into educational projects. It allocates 1percent of pre-tax profits to corporate responsibility projects, based on a three-year rolling average. In the financial year ended June 2005, this amounted to R66million, much of which was spent on education initiatives.

The Shuttleworth Foundation forges partnerships and lends logistical support to companies providing foreign aid. In education, it focuses on improving teaching and enhancing maths, science and technology.

At the corporate social investment level, Bytes Document Solutions, the local Xerox distributor, adopts schools.

The value of investing in education cannot be measured in monetary terms alone, but in its affect on youth - the workforce of the future. It is our responsibility to ensure they are equipped socially, mentally and physically.

l Zandile Kunene is executive director of Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance