“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” Nelson Mandela once declared. In South Africa, where inequality and poverty still persist, education has become the only way for many people to uplift themselves from poverty.
As a direct response to challenges faced by young people, who make up a majority of the country’s unemployed population, Tsogo Sun has put education at the heart of its social investment programmes.
The company supports initiatives that provide learners with the tools to reach their best potential throughout their education journey, from preschool to tertiary.
Programmes also help young people enter the job market successfully, and support entrepreneurship.
Harnessing the power of information
Tsogo Sun works with its partners and secondary schools to provide an online career guidance programme, designed to help learners from grades 9 to 12 discover careers that are best suited to their passion and future goals.
The programme offers grade 9 learners an online evaluation exercise to identify interests and skills, and an aptitude test that matches their personality types to highlight suitable career opportunities. The results can then be used to guide learners’ subject choices.
For grade 10 learners, workshops offer a variety of topics, from career exploration and mentorship programmes, and all supported by Tsogo Sun staff volunteers.
Workshops for grade 11 learners then cover people skills, money skills, tertiary education options, job shadowing opportunities, and job-readiness training.
Other than learning the skills needed for future success, grade 12 learners are also helped with online applications for tertiary studies to universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, as well as bursary applications.
The company also has a bursary programme that funds learners across the education spectrum from primary school and high school, to tertiary education.
Ripples of change in communities
The peer-driven Columba Leadership programme operates in high schools to encourage young people to be self-motivated, work-ready, and employable.
Columba empowers learners to become leaders in their schools by encouraging discipline in academic work and community building as a way to create a ripple of positive change in schools and communities.
Through the programme, groups of grade 10 learners work with three educators to ensure that outcomes from Columba become part of school culture to create sustainable impact.
The groups attend leadership training and adopt special projects to engage with other learners in their school. This enables them to influence school values and develop a culture of student leadership.
Creating safe environments for development
Extending its educational reach further, Tsogo Sun also partners with the Amandla Safe-Hub programme to give youngsters from grades r to matric regular access to safe environments for facilitated sports, arts, life skills lessons, personal development, and accredited training courses.
The Safe-Hubs work with more than 800 learners to provide learnership opportunities for young people in local communities. Called the PlayMakers, the learners are selected for their commitment to transforming their communities by being positive role models.
The PlayMakers work at Safe-Hubs to implement the EduFootball programme with children, helping them to gain valuable work experience and training to become more employable, which includes an accredited NQF level 4 in Sports Administration, First Aid Level 1, SAFA Coaching D licence, basic computer literacy, as well as AMANDLA #MakeYourPlay workshops.
The workshops promote personal development training to ensure a successful transition into future employment, education, or training.
Moving from beginners to masters
Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov said, “Chess helps you to concentrate, improve your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions, how to problem solve in an uncertain environment.”
These skills are cultivated through the Moves for Life Chess programme that was introduced in 2013, which is sponsored by Tsogo Sun properties in communities around South Africa.
“Chess builds character and team spirit, it is a great leveller that can be played by all children, whatever their sporting or academic abilities, and it’s fun,” said Shanda Paine, the group corporate social investment manager at Tsogo Sun.
“The game does not need specialised facilities, and is inexpensive, and within the reach of children from all walks of life,” she added.
Moves for Life is driven by the company’s belief that every South African child has the potential to become a world-class citizen.
More than 17,900 primary school learners are enrolled in the programme.
Igniting a love of maths and science
It’s been widely proved that stimulating learning environments encourage a lifelong interest in education.
The Olwazini Science Discovery centre is designed to make education fun and interesting through hands-on experiences that promote science, technology, and maths.
The centre has more than 70 interactive curriculum-based and cultural exhibits that demonstrate how much science and technology is found in South Africa’s culture.
Olwazini’s computer centre provides free computer training for young people and adults through a 5-day basic computer course that provides word processing programmes and internet skills.
The ITEC Maths and Science Primary Schools project uses practical teaching skills to tackle the anxiety that primary school children often have about maths and science.This is done by demystifying maths and science through fun, child-centred learning activities for grade 4 learners.
No child is left behind
Vukukhanye, which means “arise and shine” in Zulu, is an NGO that supports vulnerable children through an early childhood development centre, a foster home for orphans, health and welfare support of child-headed households, and a bursary project.
The centre provides quality early childhood education to ensure a sound foundation for ongoing education.
Local Tsogo Sun properties vist the centre every month to provide support, maintenance work, and other help that is needed.
Upgrading schools through staff volunteering
Absolutely central to achieving goals set by the company’s education programmes is the staff volunteer programme, which encourages staff to help upgrade and improve the facilities of the schools and organisations around them.
On Mandela Day, volunteers get involved in 67 minutes or more of giving. Children are among the primary beneficiaries, with maintenance, painting, building, vegetable gardening, and improvements done in creches, schools, day care centres, and children’s homes around the country.
The staff volunteer programme also upgrades playground equipment, and donates books for libraries, stationery, toys, linen, and clothing.
Tsogo Sun teams also work with other corporates to package food parcels at the annual Rise Against Hunger event in a bid to eradicate child hunger in unregistered early childhood development centres.
A global perspective
Each year, more than 100 employees from Tsogo Sun hotels in Cape Town don their hard hats and join the Mellon Educate Building Blitz, working alongside 300 international volunteers from around the globe to help build schools in the surrounding communities.
The Building Blitz is an annual week-long event organised by the Ireland-based development charity, Mellon Educate.
Paine continued: “Tsogo Sun is committed to playing a pivotal role in the educational development of South Africa’s young people, unlocking their potential, bringing about real change in their lives, and empowering them to create a legacy of economic independence for future generations.”