An urgent need to provide greater access to funding
By Lindani Dhlamini, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SekelaXabiso (SkX) and winner of the AABLA Southern Africa Business Woman of the Year Award in 2016.
The right to education doesn’t just mean access to learning – it also means a quality education that adequately prepares students for the journey ahead. The provision of funding to students is a way of strengthening the talent base South Africa so needs to put us on the global map.
The education gap
I’ve had experience with both private and public schools. Growing up, I attended a government school, while my children have been fortunate enough to attend a private school. They’re worlds apart – and it all boils down to resources.
The private school system gives learners critical skills that equip them for later in life. For example, my 10-year-old son is already learning how to put together presentations. The first time I had access to a presentation was at university and I had no clue what I was doing – I had to learn those skills at the age of nineteen, which was daunting and difficult.
There’s no doubt the public school system is trying to provide the best they can with what’s available, but it’s a resource issue – until the resources become available, education levels won’t improve and there’ll always be a gap between public and private. This gap, however, should never be perceived as an inhibitor to succeed.
Building a future
SekelaXabiso (SkX), SA’s leading black-owned professional services firm, has partnered with the St Mary’s Foundation and other schools around the country to fund children throughout their high school education. The ripple effect of this work is phenomenal.
The St Mary’s Foundation bursary recipients wouldn’t have access to the opportunities afforded to them at a school like St Mary’s. St Mary’s Waverly, through the St Mary’s Foundation, opens its doors to girls who are academically talented and have the ability to be leaders in their communities one day, but who’re excluded from a top-class education due to their financial circumstances.
At SekelaXabiso, our passion for education reflects the government’s vision that all South African students should receive quality lifelong learning, education and training. We’re funding 16 scholars across the country. With the access, opportunity and resources from a quality education, we’re proud our scholars are realising their potential.
These students are on the path to making informed choices about their careers, ambitions and how they can make a positive impact in society. In partnership with the St Mary’s Foundation, SkX not only funds students’ education but also pays for school and sports uniforms and grocery parcels – including essential toiletries, like sanitary pads.
The ripple effect
Scholarships like those provided by the St Mary’s Foundation and SekelaXabiso are giving young girls an opportunity for a bright future. All bursary recipients at St Mary’s are ambitious and want to do remarkable things when they complete high school. Their lives would have taken a radically different trajectory if the foundation hadn’t provided these opportunities.
Children who receive scholarships and bursaries inevitably perform better because the basics are taken care of. Other learners have also been motivated as a result, and aim to be awarded bursaries too.
The impact of exposure
Being afforded the opportunity to go to a school like St Mary’s means entering a whole new social system and circle. You’d be amazed at the impact of exposure alone. These children live a different life to what they envisioned and they now have access to possibilities for their future. The knowledge they gain, they’re taking back home to their families and communities.
Organisations like SekelaXabiso and the St Mary’s Foundation play a vital role in facilitating access to a quality education. There should be a concerted effort by corporates, schools and government to work together to boost bursaries without limitations, thereby attracting more talented students who can access available funding – and a brighter future.
For more information about the St Mary’s Foundation and how you can assist, visit www.stmaryschool.co.za/foundation. To speak to Lindani Dhlamini or anyone from the foundation email Nicole@gullanandgullan.com.