Sithokozile: Making strides in education
For Beier Group, success depends not only on the ability to see potential, but also on the follow-through: the long-term investment and commitment required for a business idea or strategy to bear dividends. We have taken this same approach with our Corporate Social Investment (CSI) – and we’re seeing encouraging results.
Government cannot solve our country’s societal challenges alone. Most companies understand this: the total spent on CSI last year was R9.7 billion, according to sustainability consultancy Trialogue.
Not all CSI projects are created equal, however. Many deliver quick wins, yet have no sustainable or lasting impact. Real community upliftment and development requires much more: more time and more effort, as well as close, on-the-ground collaboration with communities.
Just recently, we saw the powerful impact of longer-term initiatives reflected in the 2018 matric results at Sithokozile Secondary School, in KwaDabeka, west of Durban. In line with our focus on education and youth development, we began our CSI partnership with Sithokozile seven years ago.
Understanding the magnitude of our responsibility to the learners, parents and the community at large, we always intended for our involvement to be long-term and results-driven. Since the start of the programme in 2012, we’ve invested R350 000 per year.
The Beier Group collaborates with Sithokozile personnel, as well as the Podcast, Partnership, Recognition (PPR) Education Trust, a non-profit initiative working to address the challenges facing education in South Africa. The Trust has worked closely with the Department of Education (DoE) to develop a programme that integrates technology and team spirit into the classroom to improve performance in underprivileged schools.
The focus of the Beier Group has been to encourage academic excellence at Sithokozile, particularly in Mathematics and Science, while also fostering the life skills learners need to cope with their daily challenges and to recognise future opportunities.
Supporting the development of Maths and Science skills is crucial for South Africa’s sustainable growth, and we also strongly believe in contributing holistically to building future leaders – both at the Beier Group and in the communities in which we operate.
Beier’s support of Sithokozile includes:
- Sponsorship of the Mathematics and Science Improvement Programme, facilitated by the PPR Education Trust
- Sponsorship of the Beier Group Chess Programme and a permanent senior programme co-ordinator and facilitator
- Providing computer equipment and infrastructure to run the programme
- Progress monitoring through regular interactions with the school principal and Trust
- Hosting life skills and work readiness programmes
- Sponsoring bursaries to high-performing learners
- Infrastructure expansion
Sithokozile’s recent matric results show the vast potential that exists within our significantly under-resourced local schools; they also provide evidence that sustained interventions can tap into that potential.
The school’s 2018 matric pass rate improved from 57.1% in 2017 to 86.2%, beating out bigger and more affluent schools in the area. This included a 78.2% Maths pass mark (with 4 distinctions), a 78.8% pass mark in the Physical Sciences (with 3 distinctions) and a 99.5% English pass mark (with 2 distinctions). These considerable improvements are largely the result of Beier’s initiatives, according to the school’s former principal, Raphael Mtheku, and the current acting principal, Bonginkosi Kati.
We’re excited to continue building on these successes. In light of President Cyril Rampahosa’s drive to improve digital literacy among young people, the year ahead will see us investing in Sithokozile’s IT infrastructure.
We believe strongly in the potential of technology to transform the classroom experience for both learners and teachers, in addition to putting a wealth of knowledge resources at their fingertips. Our investment will also enable the streaming of key lessons by the school’s education partner, Durban High School (DHS), via the DHSTV View on Demand (VOD) platform.
At the end of the day, our objective is to develop a talent pipeline from the school into our companies, hence the focus on Mathematics, Science, English and life skills. While only a small percentage of matriculants from Sithokozile will go on to be employed by Beier Group companies, our hope is to improve the employability of many others, so they can add to the economy elsewhere. That is our altruistic objective.
We look forward to seeing Sithokozile’s matriculants making further gains this year!