Driving systematic change in the education ecosystem by instilling a culture of entrepreneurship in rural creches and township high schools

In South Africa, entrepreneurship is often mentioned as a solution to create enough decent work for everyone. However, we cannot expect those without the necessary experience to immediately become successful business owners and overall contributors to our economy without holistic entrepreneurial development tailored for entrepreneurs in townships and rural areas at grass root level.

The South African “Vision 2030” National Development Plan highlights that the key to sustainable employment and economic growth in South Africa is through education and skills development. Not only do the correct education structures and skills development programmes empower individuals to develop to their full potential, but it also reduces social inequalities.

It is for this reason that Iyachichima Social Enterprise, through its Education Business Unit, has designed a model that instills a culture of entrepreneurship in rural creches and township high schools. Our interactive programs are based on learnings and success stories that involve the learners, educators and community members (ie local SMMEs, private sector and NGOs).

EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT IN RURAL AREAS:

Early Childhood Development (ECD) has been recognised as one of the most powerful tools for breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty in South Africa. Overwhelming scientific evidence confirms the tremendous importance of early years for human development and the need for investing resources to support and promote optimal child development conception. Lack of opportunities and interventions, or poor-quality interventions, during early childhood can significantly disadvantage young children and diminish their potential for success.

Iyachichima exists to drive systematic change in the education ecosystem of rural creches by providing efficient and effective ECD facilities and programmes to set previously disadvantaged children, their educators and parents, up for success.

Phindavele is a registered crèche that is situated in Umzumbe, a rural village in Port Shepstone. Founded in 2013 by the late Dr. Philip Bohlela, it is centred on developing and empowering young children through quality education and holistic wellbeing. With a current enrolment of 45 children between the ages of 1 and 5 years of age, Phindavele operates from a church building in the local village. All of our children come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and homes with limited access to resources. Therefore, it is key that we work in an inclusive manner with the staff and parents to change the way they see learning and enable them to understand the role they play in the development of the child and how they can maximise it.

Between 2013 and now, Phindavele has enabled more than 50 children to have a solid stepping stone and is serving as a satellite to various primary schools in the local community. What sets our creche apart is that we focus on working with the child, educator and parent to develop:

–           SKILLS DEVELOPMENT & TRAINING (FOR STAFF AND PARENTS):

Conducted by accredited community care givers from Isibindi, we place a huge focus on HIV/AIDS related content and on the protection of the child

–           INCOME GENERATING ACTIVITIES (FOR STAFF AND PARENTS):

Almost all the parents are single mothers who live off a social support grant and struggle to pay school fees (no matter how cheap they seem). As such, we capacitate them with practical skills on sewing and gardening so that they can make a living for them and their families; and be in a position to pay the creche fees whilst also growing themselves.

 

ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS:

Teaching young children in a fun and interactive way on how to develop interpersonal and intrapersonal skills is where our passion lies.

These workable insights were obtained from Mainspring Schools, a US kindergarten that works with low-income families in the city of Austin, Texas. Much like Phindavele, they are dedicated to supporting families by providing accessible high quality early care and education for young children. By collaborating with Mainspring Schools we are confident that as we fine tune our business model we will grow and make this a repeatable model for all rural creches.

RESULTS:

In 2017 Phindavele’s application for funding was approved by the Department of Social Development where they issue Phindavele Creche a monthly grant to buy food for the children, pay salaries to the 3 full time staff members and to maintain the operations of the creche.

In 2018: Phindavele’s building site has been approved by local municipality to erect a fully fitted standalone creche building. We are currently raising funds for the building materials and learning equipment.

TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOLS:

High school education in terms of the critical subjects in grade 12, which are Maths, Science and Accounting; is a pillar and foundation of economic development and employability of the economically active young population. Underperformance in these subjects undoubtedly means low economic development and employability. This is prevalent in township and rural schools as South Africa’s unemployment figures and lack of skills have been linked to the inequality between its people.

Gamalakhe Commercial High School (GCHS) is a public secondary school located in Gamalakhe Township, which is on the Lower South Coast of Durban in the UGU District Municipality. With an enrolment of 917 pupils in 2018 across grades 8 – 12, Gamalakhe Commercial High offers excellent education in commercial science subjects providing opportunities in academics and cultural activities. The school ethos promotes knowledge, accountability and sound ethical standards.

Whilst the UGU District Grade 12 performance in a critical subject like mathematics is poor at 48.54% pass in 2016, GCHS continues to excel – against all odds. One of the biggest challenges faced by GCHS is the lack of access to resources and skills that expose learners to learning that is on par with their white counter parts or urban schools. As such, learners find themselves not maintaining their high marks in tertiary or their intellect goes to waste as they do not further their studies or start their own business.

Iyachichima partnered with GCHS with the intention of bridging this gap by: elevating the image of the school through improving their look & feel (logo and school badge), launching quarterly programmes that are integrated into the curriculum and focus on entrepreneurship, career day, ICT Skills development, mentorship and an annual academic awards ceremony for top performers.

Iyachichima is committed to motivating pupils, enable top achievers to get bursaries and sponsorships from corporates; allow for computer skills to be learnt whilst at school and prepare them for the real world after high school; either as tertiary learners or how start their own business.

RESULTS:

In 2016: Gamalakhe Commercial High School Academic Awards saw 5 learners receive bursaries from local entrepreneur and business people to further their studies in tertiary academic institutions

In 2017: Gamalakhe Commercial High School Computer Applications Technology pass rate improved by 6000+ bps from 78% – 84% after the implementation of the Iyachichima Computer Skills development program with Inkulo IT Systems, an Information Technology Company.

In 2018: Gamalakhe Commercial High School Renovation Project endorsed and underway by Department of Education. GCHS Feeding scheme approved for learners that are unable to bring lunch to school. GCHS website development is underway. This is a continuation of the partnership where iyachichima will lead the project but ensure it continues to be part of elevating the school’s image and using the school website as a way to make computer and technology accessible to learners and instil that culture of entrepreneurship practically.