With every passing year, South Africa strives to become a leading country in Africa and most certainly the world. For 2009 there was a unacceptable decline in the pass rate across the country, which was met with disappointment by the Education Ministry, and in her speech the Minister of Education reiterated the fact that ‘Education is a societal issue’. If the nation develops a sense of ownership for learning and unified in the support of the schooling system, the education standard could be raised dramatically, which in turn would grow the economy exponentially.
Companies in South Africa need to realise that the key to having well developed employees that fulfil organisation needs, lies in having a well educated population. It requires that we look at the process as intrinsically linked. If we develop a strong base for educational standards, the end result will be that we have well-rounded individuals with solid capabilities that will provide an impressive workforce.
The schooling system in South Africa has a number of pain points that include a lack of qualified teachers, inadequate facilities and a shortage of supplies. This coupled with the fact that a large number of parents struggle to provide the necessary books and stationary for their school-going children, results in a struggling learner base that needs outside help.
In the case of Dimension Data we looked at a number of possibilities that could provide the assistance that the students needed. In 1995 we opened the Dimension Data Saturday School; the concept started off as a volunteer programme with members of staff and has since grown into a flagship initiative within the company.
Through Saturday classes held on campus the programme provides support to students from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing extra classes in a number of tough subjects. We take students that need help in their schooling and we work with them to achieve their full potential. Since its inception, 15 years ago the school has achieved a 100% pass rate with 26 distinctions and a number of other academic accolades. The Class of 2009 also achieved 84% University entrance and 22 distinctions in total. The top performing students were Thandekile Mamni with 4 distinctions, Adam Phofa and Mathapelo Mokoena each with 3 distinctions.
The Saturday School does not purely look at academics though; it also incorporates entrepreneurial and social skills in the programme too. Students are exposed to etiquette, golf and work environments that enable them to broaden their horizons and find their strengths.
If every local organisation took it upon themselves to better the education standard in South Africa, we would see an immediate increase in the availability of qualified individuals. There would be a growth of successful entrepreneurs and a higher sense of self-worth in the communities. The country would prosper and the skill-shortage would be greatly reduced – ultimately all these inputs would result in an improved economy and a flourishing nation.