Adopt-a-School Foundation is working
In 2001, Cyril Ramaphosa was asked to donate a fax machine to Tshilidzi Primary School in Soweto, which he had attended as a child. When he went to the school to hand over the fax machine, he saw that this wasn’t all that was needed. This inspired him and a group of others to initiate the Adopt-a-School Foundation in 2002, with the aim of mobilising the private sector, organisations and individuals to support schools. There has been no looking back.
To date Adopt-a-School has benefitted over 700 000 learners in 620 schools adopted across South Africa, Mozambique and Lesotho, creating 6 728 temporary jobs and benefitting and supporting 1 012 small businesses in the process. The key objective of the foundation is to implement Whole School Development, a holistic model aimed at improving the academic, infrastructural and social environment in schools.
In 2012 the foundation partnered with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to officially adopt the Moses Maren Mission Technical Secondary School in Lenasia, Gauteng. Since then, the school has received a fully resourced science laboratory and a two-year mathematics and science educator development programme. Six new classrooms have been built to reduce the severe overcrowding. The IDC also supports a health and sanitation programme every year and runs career guidance workshops at Moses Maren.
“Adopt-a-School not only provided the necessary infrastructure and resources, but also helped facilitate a change in the attitude of us as learners and in the school as a whole,” says Koketso Bayloi, a matriculant at the school. He points out that when a school lacks the basics, people find it easier to believe that mediocre work is acceptable. “So when you have new developments like this, it takes away that story you told yourself: ‘My school is in the dust, I don’t have what I need to succeed.’ Now that your excuse is gone, mediocre work becomes unacceptable … It’s the light at the end of the tunnel.”
At Olifantsvlei Primary School, a feeder school for Moses Maren, a full model of Whole School Development was implemented over a period of 10 years. Principal Freddy Mapula says his school struggled before Adopt-a-School came along: “It was a slow process, our being adopted, taking about two years. They assessed us during this time, sometimes arriving unannounced, to see how we were doing things,” he recalls.
“Then began a process of renovating and building much of our new infrastructure. They also realised that we have many challenges, particularly on the part of the community that we are servicing where many parents are illiterate, unemployed, lacking income and resources. The result is that these kids bring these realities with them to school. Adopt-a-School organised counselling services and social welfare programmes. Then they assisted in the development of teachers, they helped with strategic planning, doing computer training, many things … I am nearing retirement and I keep on reminding my colleagues that Adopt-a-School is not here for them, Adopt-a-School is not here for me, they are here for these children who are entrusted into our care.”