Cedric Mboyisa

The South African Sugar Association (SASA), through its Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education (SITFE), has embarked on multi-million rand projects to benefit learners from disadvantaged backgrounds in the sugarcane growing provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

Costing a total of R5 590 123, these projects (in conjunction with the provincial Department of Education), were recently acknowledged by Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane during his Budget Vote Speech in the Legislature. 

Above: KZN Science Centre’s Neelan Maduray puts on a science show for learners.  

The projects will result in provision of funding support to the Izingolweni (Ezinqoleni) Education Centre Science Laboratory in Port Shepstone, career development aimed at keepings girls in school with a focus on the Ugu, Harry Gwala and UMkhanyakude districts, building of a state-of-the-art science laboratory for a rural high school in Jozini, an early childhood development (ECD) programme for 96 centres in KwaZulu-Natal, and school, learner and curriculum support programmes in the province.

“This is in addition to SITFE bursary programme – which has been in existence for 52 years – awarding 41 bursaries every year to academically deserving students from disadvantaged backgrounds to study at tertiary level (colleges and universities). This partnership proves that working together with the private sector, we can help our people and build a winning province,” said SASA’s Land Reform and Rural Development General Manager Anwhar Madhanpall.

The Keeping Girls in School Project, in partnership with KZN Science Centre, kicked off in Umzimkhulu with two rural schools. The schools are Webbstown High School and DRC Junior Secondary School. Learners received career advice from female role models from the Shukela Training Centre, SA Sugarcane Research Institute and External Affairs Division. They were workshopped on career subject choices. A science show demonstrating the practical use of science had learners wowed. The Department of Health was on hand to give HIV/Aids education.

Above: KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education’s Cornelia Mcunu stresses the importance of choosing careers.

“We are fortunate to partner with SITFE and the Department of Education in launching this important project. The need for education in today’s economy is vital as it offers a lifeline out of the socio-economic afflictions faced by many communities. Education is the basic right of every child in our country, however statistics show that the importance of this right is often understated. In this context the social welfare of our learners is a priority. It will allow learners to make informed decisions about the future and an opportunity to overcome the social ills faced in their communities,” said Faizal Dawjee, CEO of the KZN Science Centre.

Called the “Career Jamborees” initiative, it comprises a school outreach programme dedicated to subject selection and career awareness including the dissemination of informative resource materials for the advancement of learner career participation from Grade 9 level. The initiative aims to respond to the many social ills afflicting many of the female youth in the rural areas of KZN which all impact on growing burden of high learner dropout rates.

Said Madhanpall: “This is an exciting programme for us as SITFE because we acknowledge the tremendous challenges facing learners in our province, especially the added burdens placed on the shoulders of our female learners. It is important for us to partner with organisations and institutions that place female learning at the top of their agenda because it brings different experiences and solutions to the table.”

Niranjan Bridglall, Director of Special Needs Education Services at the KZN Department of Education, said more of these projects were needed in different districts of the province. “As the Department of Education, we are extremely excited about this project as it allows us to directly interact with learners and get an understanding of the particular challenges facing female learners,” he added.