South Africa

Kagiso Trust launches programme in Sekhukhune district to help improve performance in schools

The Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme aims to strengthen quality of rural schools

Signing of the pledge during the Beyers Naudé School Development Programme (BNSDP) launch in Sekhukhune East at Sehlaku Secondary School in Limpopo.
Signing of the pledge during the Beyers Naudé School Development Programme (BNSDP) launch in Sekhukhune East at Sehlaku Secondary School in Limpopo.
Image: Ziphozonke Lushaba

March 6 2019 will be marked as an important date in the history of the community of the Sekhukhune area in Limpopo. It is the day Kagiso Trust launched an ambitious project called the Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme (BNSDP), aimed at changing the lives of pupils from schools in the Sekhukhune East District.

The district, which boasts a staggering 444 schools, is among the poorest performing in the province in terms of matric results.

About 10,000 pupils from 151 secondary schools from the district who wrote matric in 2018 registered a 60% pass rate, making it the lowest performing in the province.

But this looks set to change, thanks to the BNSDP, which the Kagiso Trust launched in partnership with the Limpopo department of education.

We gave them the worst district in terms of matric results, but we have confidence that this will be a thing of the past after we  launch this programme
Ishmael Kgetjepe

At the glittering four-hour-long event, which took place at the modest Sehlaku Secondary School in Driekop, in the mining town of Burgersfort, speaker after speaker talked about the positive effect the project would have on the lives of the pupils.

The event was attended by education MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe, provincial government officials, Kagiso Trust officials and trustees, principals from various local schools, chiefs and many other dignitaries.

Kagiso Trust is one of SA’s leading development agencies with the mandate to overcome poverty by creating and implementing sustainable development programmes.

Speaking at the launch, Kagiso Trust CEO Mankodi Moitse said cultivating partnerships with the Limpopo department heads was key to achieving the strategic growth and the advancement of the province’s education system.

“We hope that this intervention yields great results and can also be a learning curve for our combined stakeholders,” said Moitse.

The programme was piloted in 2004 at just one school at the Vhembe district in the far north. Later, eight more schools in the district were roped in. The initiative was also piloted in Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, where 166 schools in Thabo Mofutsanyana district benefited from the partnership with the provincial department of education.

Kagiso Trust has since invested more than R400m in education development. The success of the programme in the Free State has led to expansion into the Riba Cross district (Sekhukhune East).

The trust aims to deliver a comprehensive and tailored programme that will address the challenges rural schools are facing in SA. The programme provides infrastructure and builds instructional leadership and curriculum capacity at schools. It is also aimed at improving pupil outcomes and the functioning of the educational system at district level.

Key areas of focus for the BNSPD is to foster community participation and buy-in from local schools. Its mission is also to create environments conducive to teaching and learning and to help solve challenges that hamper effective functioning.

Kgetjepe, who hails from the same district, said the provincial government was completely behind the initiative. “The premier [Stanley Mathabatha] is fully behind this project, I’m fully behind this project, everybody in government is behind this project,” he said to applause. “This project will never fail ... It’s a turning point for our learners. We gave them [the Kagiso Trust] the worst district in terms of matric results, but we have confidence that this will be a thing of the past after we launch this programme.”

The MEC said the government was not only putting money into the project but also investing in “our children to make them better people in future”.

Moitse said since the initial pilot phase of the programme at Lwamondo High School, Limpopo, the ripple effect of the project had resulted in an improved matric pass rate of 84% and that Kagiso Trust, along with other stakeholders, hoped for holistic growth in the schools involved in the programme in the next five years.

Kgetjepe added that emphasis had to be given to school infrastructure in rural communities. “Partnering needs to be deliberate with each region’s mandate in mind. We are pleased that the Kagiso Trust is revisiting Limpopo through the BNSDP and commit to work hand in hand to ensure a smooth transition,” he said.

Kagiso Trust trustee Dean Zwoitwaho Nevhutalu said he hoped the BNSDP would bring about positive changes at all the schools in the district. “We all know that this district is doing very poorly [in terms of matric results] and we hope that, with time and with the buy-in and participation of the stakeholders involved [in the programme], we are going to see a radical change,” he said.

New Fetakgomo Tubatse municipality mayor Naomi Phala said her municipality had thrown its weight behind the initiative.

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This article was paid for by Kagiso Trust.

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