Celebrating the living treasures in our communities

Barloworld and TEACH South Africa partner to bring more teachers to far-flung, under-resourced schools

As South Africa marks Heritage Month – this year themed as celebrating living human treasures for their immense contribution to the arts, culture and heritage sector in communities – Barloworld is highlighting the human treasures it supports in making a difference in the lives of young people.

In South Africa, schools have long been the sites of resistance, rebellion and restitution. A heritage that is under threat today as the education system is crippled by significant challenges – one of which is a severe shortage of teachers, particularly maths and science teachers in rural areas, townships and disadvantaged areas. Parents are at their wits’ end, calling for a solution to this – and other – problems as a matter of national urgency.

It is this systemic challenge that Barloworld, with TEACH South Africa (TEACH), is trying to mitigate, with a step-by-step approach.

A study released by the Centre of Development and Expertise (CDE) in 2015, ‘Teachers in South Africa: Supply and demand 2013 – 2025’ revealed that there will be a severe shortage of teachers in the foundation phase by 2020 if the number of teaching graduates in that phase continues to fall.

The report also shows that an estimated 30 000 new teachers are needed over 12 years to meet increased pupil enrolment, taking the total from around 426 000 in 2013 to 456 000 teachers in 2025.

“Investing in education is a non-negotiable for developing countries like ours – it truly is the foundation off which everything grows,” said Sibani Mngomezulu, Group Executive for Human Resources, Strategy and Sustainability at Barloworld. “We recognise this and honour it in as many ways as we can as a company that is invested in supporting South Africa’s development.”

Barloworld dedicates the largest portion of its corporate social investment (CSI) spend to education – a core company focus area for many years, which it sees as pivotal to socio-economic development.

TEACH South Africa, a non-profit organisation, recruits, trains, places and supports graduates in schools to improve the quality of education.

The graduates are placed in schools straight out of university, and teach for a period of two years after which they’re either absorbed by the school, or placed elsewhere where they can find permanent employment.

Since its inception in 2009‚ TEACH has placed 382 graduates in eight provinces and in 228 schools around the country. To date‚ 57% of TEACH ambassadors remain in the teaching profession‚ increasing the pool of teachers.

“We must invest in high quality education to build a prosperous, equitable and competitive South Africa – a priority aligned with the goals of the National Development Plan for education, training and innovation,” says Dr Futhi Mtoba, TEACH South Africa President and Co-Founder.

TEACH ambassadors are not just seen as teachers, but as people invested in the learners’ future. They want to make a meaningful impact on young people’s lives.

Lindiwe Ngwenya, a TEACH alumni and English teacher at Zonkizizwe Secondary School in Katlehong, is a perfect example of this approach.

Ngwenya initiated the Gems in Zonke project, an inspirational legacy project which focuses on learners telling stories through social media.  Gems in Zonke is part of the many legacy projects that TEACH encourages its ambassadors to form outside of the classroom as part of extra mural activities for learners.

“I had no intention of becoming a teacher before I joined TEACH, but from the minute I stepped into a classroom I realised that teaching is my passion. TEACH has also opened my eyes to struggles that township and rural schools face and the need for committed and dedicated teachers in the education system,” she says.

Philisiwe Ndhlovu, a grade 10 learner at Zonkizizwe Secondary School, is the president of the Zonke project, and said Ngwenya’s influence on her life has been profound.

“The Gems in Zonke project is a platform for us to be creative and showcase our talents. I have developed great leadership skills, and grown personally during my time as president.”

Barloworld has supported TEACH since its inception.  Barloworld’s CSI model is structured in such a way that a portion of each division’s CSI spend goes towards the Barloworld Trust – which is used to fund group-wide CSI initiatives focused on education, leadership and youth.

“At Barloworld we strongly believe that education can transform our society. We celebrate the TEACH ambassadors who have gone on to give up their time to teaching in under-resourced schools.

“Investing in education always brings out the best in people, and that’s why Barloworld is proud to be a partner of TEACH South Africa to help build a legacy that will be inherited by future generations,” added Mngomezulu.