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Landing – DGT


July 06, 2016 Camp I Am is an educational program, for children in grades 4-10, focusing on youth who live in under-resourced communities. It runs a school holiday program and supporting activities during the school year; with holiday camps in Orange Farm and Finetown in Johannesburg South. Camp I Am supports efforts to improve the educational outcomes by providing a variety of experiences for campers, and collaborates with the Department of Basic Education, non-governmental organizations, and individuals. Camp I Am was created for young people who have little or no activity during the school break, which leaves them at high risk of abuse and sexual experimentation.  It was launched during the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in five provinces— Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, North West and Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The Spelling Bee

Spelling Bee South Africa was launched in 2014 by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) as part of the Getting the Nation to Read Campaign to improve learners’ performance in languages, especially in English. Now in its third year, learners across the country are taking part in spelling bee competitions held at the schools, districts and  provinces, which all lead to the national spelling bee slated for October. Old Mutual in partnership with Camp I Am, an implementer for the DBE spelling bee, is supporting this initiative by providing fun and educational spelling activities developed from the DBE spelling bee wordlist. Every Tuesday and Thursday we will post a word search to help learners become champion spellers and have fun doing it. Let’s get started with the S P E L L I N G  B E E! For more information see: www.campiam.co.za

Take Part in the Camp I Am - Spelling Bee Workbook:

Camp I Am Spelling Bee Workbook in association with Old Mutual Camp I Am Spelling Bee Workbook in association with Old Mutual Camp I Am Spelling Bee Workbook in association with Old Mutual Camp I Am Spelling Bee Workbook in association with Old Mutual Camp I Am Spelling Bee Workbook in association with Old Mutual Camp I Am Spelling Bee Workbook in association with Old Mutual Camp I Am Spelling Bee Workbook in association with Old Mutual Camp I Am Spelling Bee Workbook in association with Old Mutual Camp I Am Spelling Bee Workbook in association with Old Mutual Camp I Am Spelling Bee Workbook in association with Old Mutual  …

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April 03, 2016 In the Northern Cape, driving 400km is just like popping around the corner. This seems to be the general attitude of the folk living in Kimberley where we've arrived this afternooon. Distance isn't a problem and 'popping in' to see someone is the norm. So our visit from Cape Town, via Bloemfontein and Botshabelo, is very much appreciated by Old Mutual Area Manager Jannie Jacobs (below) and St John Centre Manager, Johan Maloney. We're at the St John Centre, Kimberley because Jannie Jacobs (above) is a Staff Community Builder who volunteers his time at this organisation. As a company that holds social responsibility integral to it's core commitments, Old Mutual encourages employees to volunteer through a number of different programmes. One of the most popular programmes is the Staff Community Builder which supports staff who give their personal time towards community development projects with three years of financial funding. Johan Maloney, Centre Manager, St John, Kimberley explains that the funding provided by the Old Mutual Foundation as a result of Jannie's personal volunteer work enabled the St John Centre to run outreaches to 22 schools training over 500 pupils in the "Save a Life" course which covers CPR, basic first aid and medical conditions such as asthma and allergies. So for this afternoon's #Journey2 road trip visit, the centre has kindly arranged ten Grade 9 pupils from Emmanuel High School to join us for a training session. It's a great opportunity to chat with Jannie who is clearly passionate about community service. He volunteers on the St John's board and bring his business experience into the organisation to manage their marketing and fundraising activities. As a senior manager in the region he says, "You can't expect your staff to get involved in community projects, if you yourself aren't leading by example." It's because of employees such as Jannie who participate in the Old Mutual Staff Community Builder, that this programme is often regarded as one of the most successful corporate employee engagement programmes in the country. Last year, almost R6,6 million was invested in 345 grassroots community projects such as Jannie's, around South Africa. Later I watch the youngsters snapping on their gloves and getting up close and personal with the St John's dummy. They're clearly interested and absorbing all the medical stats and facts, then take it in turns to try their hand at CPR. Johan comments that after the school outreaches, the St John centre encourages the youth to continue and become a qualified St John's First Aider for school or external events. "It helps develop their confidence and leadership," he says and tells us about a school graduate who has moved through the St John's ranks of emergency medical qualifications and has now become a qualified ambulance assistant. While Mark is setting up some photographs, I remark I've never learnt to do CPR and he suggests to the students that they teach me. They think this is great fun and tranform from being shy youngsters into serious trainers, giving me direct instructions about what to do, how to interlock my hands and where to depress. I'm impressed by their focus and know-how, and can easily see how this training contributes to building confidence and a sense of social responsibility. "Ek hoop die pop leef nog," remarks Jannie Jacobs wryly about my newfound first aid skills! As we wrap up the CPR session to head home, Mark shows the learners a funky YouTube clip of Vinnie Jones doing CPR to the beat of Staying Alive. Well, with so many well-trained CPR students in Kimberley, it must now be the safest place for anyone to stay alive - including the pop! Check out British Heart Foundation #hardandfast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR0aZX1_TD8 Post index: And we're off! Growing green futures For the love of reading Paying it forward In the heat of the moment The road to Camdeboo The light of one small candle Investing for the future The building blocks of business A heart for horses Mining for talent My ability is greater than my disability To be a nurse, you must be love There's no such thing as 'the voiceless' Mark my words The place where the sun rises Welcome to your future Strengthening families Dollops of Dreams The Business of Farming Staff with Heart Rekindling Hope Staying alive in Kimberley
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March 31, 2016 For those who don't know, Botshabelo is a small town in the eastern Free State. The settlement was originally established in the late 1970s as part of segregated urban planning and is about 60km from the economic hub of Bloemfontein. Today, the area is still plagued with unemployment and poverty, so it's no surprise when one of the first things we're told on our #Journey2 road trip visit to Ntemoseng High School in Botshabelo is, "Learners here are caught up in their circumstances and don't have any dreams. They've lost hope." This is why Botshabelo was targeted to be part of the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project (OMEFP), a national education initiative started in 2013 to invest R350 million over seven years into under-resourced schools in key provinces. The overarching goal of the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project (OMEFP) is to increase the number of bachelor passes (university entrance) of Grade 12 learners who have maths and science in their subject choice. By doing so, the number of students who access university education increases, with the end result of more professional skills in the economy. Under the existing structure of the Schools Partnership Project (SPP) initiated by the University of the Free State (UFS) in 2011, the OMEFP was able to extend the reach and scope of the project which provides intense mentoring for school teachers in key subjects. In Botshabelo, there are five participating schools which each have four specialist mentors in maths, science, accounting and importantly school management for principals and their management teams. The overall aim is to enable teachers to manage their classes and curriculum content more effectively. Teachers have also received critical learning aids to provide more engaging lessons, such as maths teacher Mr Moyo (above and below) who uses his new laptop and data projector to enhance his subject content - the maths improvement has been impressive,  only 24% pass rate in Grade 12 pure maths (2014), and a 95% pass rate (2015)! Additional learning aids in the form of science kits and live video streaming of lessons have also enlivened subject interest and improved teacher confidence. The lessons are taught by experienced, successful educators from a state-of-the-art studio, coordinated by the Internet Broadcasting Project (IBP) based in the UFS. The results of this close mentoring and support are starting to show for Ntemoseng High School which is now the second best performing school in Botshabelo. Recently the OMEFP project extended into nine other 'feeder' (intermediate) schools in the region targeting maths and science. Over and above this intense mentoring programme, other support initiatives are underway such as an intense, week-long, values-based workshops by Columba Leadership, to encourage youth activism and embed values of personal awareness, focus, creativity, integrity, perseverance and service in young leaders. Likewise, the establishment of four veggie tunnels on the school grounds aims to improve the children's nutritional intake. Ntemoseng High School acting principal and science teacher, Ms Alina Matloktsi (above) displays one of the school's science kits.  The most recent programme now assists graduated school learners with their application process into tertiary institutions. For many of these young adults, there's been no previous exposure to the often complex requirements when completing online registrations for university applications. Moleboheng Khoabane (below) is an Ntemoseng graduate who travelled all the way from Bloemfontein to be with us today. She is currently doing her second year at UFS (BA in Governance & Political Transformation) and says, "For example, I was assisted with my application for the NBT's (National Benchmark Tests). Previously I didn't know where to go for information, but now I've learnt from that. This year I registered for myself online. I can do things on my own. I know how to follow the guidelines and if necessary ask for help from academic advisors." Post index: And we're off! Growing green futures For the love of reading Paying it forward In the heat of the moment The road to Camdeboo The light of one small candle Investing for the future The building blocks of business A heart for horses Mining for talent My ability is greater than my disability To be a nurse, you must be love There's no such thing as 'the voiceless' Mark my words The place where the sun rises Welcome to your future Strengthening families Dollops of Dreams The Business of Farming Staff with Heart Rekindling Hope Staying alive in Kimberley
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March 29, 2016 Joseph Mnensa (36) holds a black belt in Taekwon-Do, Akido, Hapkido & Yojindo. He's represented South Africa in international Taekwondo World Championships held in Russia (2009) and Bulgaria (2015). And later this year he'll be jetting off to Miami, USA to represent South Africa at the International Sport Kickboxing Association World Championships. Joseph is also an Old Mutual employee and a Staff Community Builder. Old Mutual employee, community volunteer and international instructor, Joseph Mnensa (centre) coaches Taekwon-Do at Centre Point Dojang, Kensington, Cape Town. As a company that holds social responsibility integral to it's core commitments, Old Mutual encourages employee engagement in community upliftment through a number of staff volunteer programmes. The Staff Community Builder programme supports staff who give their personal time towards community development projects, which is why we find ourselves tonight at the Centre Point Dojang in Kensington, Cape Town. Not only is Joseph a hotshot Taekwon-do dude, but he also has a heart for giving back to his community. Joseph currently teaches Taekwon-do for two hours after work, four days a week, which is about 30 hours a month of community volunteering. The dojang, which Joseph set up in 2014, is located in an under-resourced area of Cape Town where many of the students are orphans, have very little family support, or come from low-income homes and are unable to take part in regular physical activity programmes. Because of Joseph's community volunteer work and the Staff Community Builder programme, the Old Mutual Foundation funded the Centre Point Dojang R20 000 (2015) and R15 000 (2016), which was used to purchase practice mats, protective headwear, gloves, footwear and allowed participation for the children in provincial tournaments. It's great to be here at this evening's practice session, watching Joseph in action with the kids and seeing firsthand the difference the funding has made. Joseph is a strict teacher. There's no talking allowed during the practice and one errant student breaks the rule and is instructed to do ten push-ups on the spot. "This is not just a sport," Joseph explains, "it's a discipline. Students must learn respect, integrity, courtesy, manners, humility." One of the parents Andelucia Chambers (35) is also watching the evening's practice session with us. She has two boys who've recently started attending the Centre Point Dojang and participated in their first interprovincial tournament. "I'm such a proud mom," Andelucia says, "both my boys came back with medals!" Later, when I ask if she's noticed a change in her boys since they've started attending, she comments that they've become more respectful at home. The Old Mutual Staff Community Builder programme has been running for over twenty years and is regarded as one of the most successful corporate employee engagement programmes in the country. In 2015, the Old Mutual Foundation invested R6,6 million in 345 grassroots social projects in South Africa, such as Joseph's, where we support our staff in caring for their communities.   Post index: And we're off! Growing green futures For the love of reading Paying it forward In the heat of the moment The road to Camdeboo The light of one small candle Investing for the future The building blocks of business A heart for horses Mining for talent My ability is greater than my disability To be a nurse, you must be love There's no such thing as 'the voiceless' Mark my words The place where the sun rises Welcome to your future Strengthening families Dollops of Dreams The Business of Farming Staff with Heart Rekindling Hope
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March 27, 2016 The drive from Riebeek West to Wolseley takes one through the beautiful Witzenberg and Skuweberg mountains. The area is perfect for farming and is renowned for it's scenic vineyards and abundant fruit orchards. so it's no surprise that we find ourselves stuck behind a tractor towing wagons loaded with grapes. The produce for our visit ahead though are pears, and more specifically Agri-Life Fruit (Pty) Ltd. A major focus of the Old Mutual Foundation is economic empowerment, which is why we target the development of black-owned businesses that have strong potential for job creation. And Agri-Life is a case in point. This transformative enterprise is a consortium of black farmers in partnership with strategic white partners (VV4), who together have set up a multi-million rand fruit-packing operation creating almost 80 jobs. The Old Mutual Foundation has invested R2 million towards this project, in conjunction with additional loan funding from Masisizane Fund. Agri-Life fruit farmers Raymond Koopstad (left), Trevor Abrahams (centre) and Charles Pietersen Trevor Abrahams (57) is one of the farmers leading the consortium. A tall man with a quiet thoughtful air, he patiently explains to me some of the rationale behind this project. There are four areas of unlocking commercial agricultural profitability. The first is basic, farmers need to run a productive, well-managed farm using good farming practices. However, getting produce to market is vital in order to realise a profit from the crop. And in the fruit world, packing facilities are the second stage of the value chain. The third stage would be taking control of the export value chain, and lastly the fourth stage would be owning the retail space. Harvesting forelle pears on Trevor Abrahams' farm, Wolseley, Western Cape. Agri-Life (Pty) Ltd is giving smaller black farmers in the area the opportunity of getting into this value chain. "The benefits for us," says Trevor, "is that by jointly owning our own business in the packing sector, we can reduce costs by up to 60%." But working within the value chain is a new experience for many of the farmers, and I ask Trevor about the biggest challenges in transitioning into commercial agriculture. He speaks of two major areas - the competitiveness of big commercial farmers in a formalised market, and the 'hoops and hurdles' of endless requirement for accreditations. One example of this is that if the Agri-Life packing plant is to be approved to handle export fruit, they require British Retail Council (BRC) accreditation which sets minimum standards for ethical practices, quality and traceability of product etc. Currently an outstanding BRC requirement is the provision of sufficient bathroom facilities to accommodate 80 employees, and until these are built Agri-Life can't pack export fruit. The impact for small farmers like Charles Pietersen is that his export quality pear crop must be packed at another export-approved packing facility which will be an additional cost upwards of R50 000. Charles Pietersen take us to a viewing point overlooking his farm of which he is co-owner with the KlipRivier Kleinboere Trust. On top of this, who could have anticipated a drought this year which would shorten the local harvest season? And frustratingly, that's why the packing house isn't operational on the day of our road trip visit (see images below). However, these are the realities of commercial agriculture and Trevor summed it up, "Farming is hard work, there's no other recipe for success, it's hard work." But the Agri-Life partnership is pulling hard to address these and other hurdles. They're a tough bunch of experienced farmers and businessmen with a lot of know-how in the team, but most importantly they share a progressive and transformative vision. Export quality forelle pears farmed by Charles Pietersen, Kliprivier Kleinboere Trust. In 2014, Trevor Abrahams was awarded Best Emerging Farmer in the Area (Toyota New Harvest of the Year award), and 2015 Agri-Life (Pty) Ltd was awarded the Transformation Award by the Western Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Images below provided by Agri-Life Financial Director, Jacques Stofberg of the packing plant at maximum production earlier in the season. Packing plant 2 Packing plant   Post index: And we're off! Growing green futures For the love of reading Paying it forward In the heat of the moment The road to Camdeboo The light of one small candle Investing for the future The building blocks of business A heart for horses Mining for talent My ability is greater than my disability To be a nurse, you must be love There's no such thing as 'the voiceless' Mark my words The place where the sun rises Welcome to your future Strengthening families Dollops of Dreams The Business of Farming Staff with Heart  …
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March 25, 2016 Graham White (19) grew up on a farm just outside of Malmesbury in the Western Cape. "I was always interested in cooking," he says, "As a child I used to help my ouma make malva pudding in the kitchen, measuring out the ingredients and stirring the mixing bowl." So when he read in the newspaper that the iKusasa School of Cooking was inviting applications for its new campus in Riebeek West, he knew what he wanted to do. iKusasa School of Cooking top graduate for 2015, Graham White now undertaking his internship at Le Franschoek Hotel & Spa, Franschoek, Western Cape. "When I was accepted at iKusasa I was so excited," he grins recalling his story, "In the beginning things went well, but by June it got more difficult. Working in a real kitchen wasn't what I expected, it was a lot tougher." However, Graham persevered and applied himself to his studies, and at the end of 2015 was declared the top student. He was so shocked, "Ek het in my binneste gehuil, want ek het dit net nie geglo." As a result of his hard work, Graham received a three year bursary to study at the International Hotel School and is currently doing his internship at Le Franschoek Hotel & Spa where we're visiting him today. "And here I am," he gestures, "working in a fency 4* hotel. What cooking has taught me is you have to learn to multi-task, to keep an eye on two pots and something in the oven. Under Chef Scott, I've learned to work hard, work well under pressure and work fast. I'm happy here and feel proud that I can send money to my family now." Le Franschoek Hotel & Spa Executive Chef, Scott Shepherd (rights) says young Graham is showing good leadership potential and would like to see him as chef de partie by the end of his internship, capable of running his own section alone. Creating life-changing opportunities to break the cycle of poverty is what corporate social investment is ultimately about. This is why the Old Mutual Foundation invested R400 000 in 2014 to enable the iKusasa School of Cooking to train 12 youth such as Graham, to receive an internationally recognised City & Guilds Certificate in Food Preparation and Cooking. 2016 Ikusasa School of Cooking students, Riebeek West campus, Western Cape, Trustee and Director of iKusasa School of Cooking, Don King, speaks to us at the Riebeek West campus about some of the sucesses and challenges encountered by the school since opening in 2013. Interestingly, he mentions there's often a negative cultural perception that work in the kitchen is regarded as domestic work, not something aspirational and especially not for men. And at times the school has experienced a surprising lack of parental support for their children to pursue alternative work (other than that which is normal in the community), or for them to seek work once graduated, far away in the cities. What an unexpected treat for the #Journey2 road trip team, delicious omelettes for lunch! These realities, and many other challenges, are why Don understands that it is sometimes difficult to bring about lasting social development. And this is why stories like Graham's are all the more encouraging. "When I'm finished my internship, I want to go and work in Dubai and gain more experience," Graham says, "I want to give it my all." Graham White, Le Franschoek Hotel & Spa.
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March 23, 2016 "Just lean right," says Thandanani facilitator Agnes Mkhize, who is busy directing us to Dambuza township just outside Pietermaritzburg, KZN. We are on the way to visit Ntombizonke Phenduka who is currently receiving support from the Thandanani Children's Foundation. Ma' Phenduka looks after five children and an elderly grandmother with the support of the Thandanani Children's Foundation. This particular area of KZN has the highest prevalence of HIV infection in South Africa, and the Thandanani Children's Foundation was established in the early 80's in response to the crisis of abandoned babies and children as a result of the HIV/Aids epidemic. Today the organisation has matured into providing extended family support wherever there is a vulnerable or orphaned child involved. Thandanani MD, Duncan Andrew explains the organisation's social development model where the first stage is to step in and stabilise a crisis situation with food parcels, blankets and cooking pots. Thorough medical assessments are done and medical treatment is begun, while the vulnerable children and their 'family care unit' get into the social system with ID registrations to kickstart social grants. Once their living situation is stabilised, the focus shifts to improved emotional health, counselling, life skills and group-support systems. Lastly, once the family unit is functioning well and has the know-how to access resources, Thandanani starts to slowly exit with fewer counselling visits. Each stage is approximately one year, with the entire process taking up to three years. Ma' Phenduka outside her house, Dambuza township, Pietermaritzburg, KZN. However, the reason we're visiting today is because Thandanani is one of the major beneficiaries of the Old Mutual Staff Payroll Giving programme receiving almost R1 million annually. This programme invites Old Mutual employees to support various social portfolios through voluntary contributions from their monthly salary. The Old Mutual Foundation undertakes to match all staff donations rand-for-rand, thereby doubling the impact of their giving. In the case of Thandanani, the Foundation further undertakes to cover all administration costs, so that 100% of staff funding reaches the end beneficiary. Thandanani Homecare fieldworker, Zama Ziqubu shares a whisper with Ma' Phenduka's daughter. After talking with Ma' Phenduka (and admiring the food garden established for her by Thandanani Food security facilitator, Thabani Ndlovu), we jump into the car 'leaning left' and 'leaning right' with Agnes to visit a second beneficiary family. In the car, Zama Ziqubu explains that she knows almost everyone in the community and can easily assess who is genuinely desperate and who needs assistance. "I know all their stories and who the cheaters are," she says nodding her head firmly. Nobuhle Cele and disabled younger brother, holding the family's memory box. We arrive at Nobuhle Cele's (26) house where she is caring for seven other people, including an aged grandmother and a disabled younger brother. This family unit is in Stage 3 and is receiving mostly pyscho-social care. Nobuhle shows us the family's memory box which "talks to people who've lost their loved ones and talks to children who've lost parents and have no photos or knowledge of their family history." Nobuhle also speaks of the help of the support groups she attends and shares, "Now we all sit and eat together as a family, instead of me going off to eat by myself in my room as if I'm angry with everyone." Thandanani Homecare fieldworker, Zama Ziqubu offers support to Nobuhle's grandmother and disabled younger brother.
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March 22, 2016 Walking into The Clothing Bank (TCB) in Mayville, Durban, I see a sign in large letters on the wall that reads 'Welcome to your Future'. The Old Mutual Foundation has walked a journey with TCB for a number of years, so I know that that sign is no exaggeration. The Clothing Bank sorting area, where donated stock from large retailers is unpacked, sorted and used as start-up stock for micro-enterprises. The TCB, a non-profit organisation started in 2010, has quickly grown into one of the most successful social enterprises in South Africa, winning international awards and recognition for their work. Their straightforward business model is based on sourcing donations from major clothing retailers of leftover stock and overruns. For many retailers, getting rid of this stock solves a huge headache and also allows them to garner BEE points through the value of the stock donations. In turn, TCB recruits unemployed mothers onto an intense life-changing, two-year enterprise development programme which teaches them to set up and manage their own small micro-enterprises using the donated clothing and accessories as their start-up stock. Not only does this enterprise training cover core business principles, but more importantly most women are supported out of deep personal crisis with counselling and critical life skills. The Old Mutual Foundation assisted TCB to set up branches in Paarl, Gauteng and most recently R500 000 to open up a Durban branch in January 2015. Today, we have a chance to speak with two women who've been on the TCB programme for one year. Their stories, like so many, are of abuse and survival to provide for their kids. Nontokozo 'TK' Gebe (below) has two boys and was unemployed for many years. "I sat at home for three years. It really shatters you, and it's hard not to feel stupid or worthless. I was very nervous when I started at TCB and wasn't sure how I'd been one of the 100 selected, or if I'd cope. But I was so tired of sitting at home I was prepared to try anything. I think for me this last year has been more about my emotional healing than about business success. Now I'm in a good place and feel stronger. My outlook on life has improved and I can relate to people in a normal way. Money-wise I'm getting better and this year I've got the energy to focus on my business." Nokuphiwo Magwaza (below) has five kids, with the last set being twins! She is no longer with her husband who is busy paying lobola for a second wife. She receives no maintenance support for their children and used to live in a shack in a nearby settlement. However, within one year of starting at TCB, Nokuphiwo has saved enough money from her business to buy a piece of land and put up her own brick-and-mortar house. "When I lock the doors at night, I think, ay last year I was staying in the shacks, now no-one can come to me and say move." Post index: And we're off! Growing green futures For the love of reading Paying it forward In the heat of the moment The road to Camdeboo The light of one small candle Investing for the future The building blocks of business A heart for horses Mining for talent My ability is greater than my disability To be a nurse, you must be love There's no such thing as 'the voiceless' Mark my words The place where the sun rises Welcome to your future Strengthening families Dollops of Dreams The Business of Farming Staff with Heart    …
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March 21, 2016 Elangabini Primary School is set high on a hill in KwaZulu-Natal, in an area outside Durban called Mpumalanga which means 'the place where the sun rises'. No wonder I was confused by my GPS, because I now learn that this area was so named long before the new provincial name for the then Eastern Transvaal came into being. Although the primary school of 640 learners is in a rural area, the school grounds are well-kept and neat, and the school has an air of discipline about it. Our #Journey2 road trip team arrive as the outdoors assembly is ending. The whole school is lined up neatly in rows according to grades and the children are waiting patiently for each class to peel away, one at a time with boys and girls holding hands in crocodile chains. This is our third school on this road trip that sits within the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project (OMEFP). As mentioned in previous posts, in 2013 Old Mutual spearheaded a national education initiative, to invest R350 million over seven years into under-resourced schools in key provinces. Although the overarching goal of the OMEFP is to increase the number of Grade 12 bachelor passes among learners who have maths and science in their subject choice, it's a fact that education initiatives are most effective when started at junior grades so as to embed fundamental knowledge and attitudes. In this province, the OMEFP is partnering with the KZN Department of Education and PILO (Programme to Improve Learning Outcomes) to roll out the Jika iMfundo initiative across various school districts, of which Mpumalanga is one. One of the biggest problems occurring in schools today is curriculum content not being fully covered within the school year. Jika iMfundo, which means 'changing education', addresses this problem by breaking down the annual curriculum into daily learning plans. Additionally, all learning resources (posters, videos, supplementary books etc.) are provided so teachers have the necessary materials on hand for each lesson. When we speak to school principal Mrs Beauty Mkhongi, she describes the process that's unfolded during the last year to get participating schools onto the Jika iMfundo programme. "When it was first introduced to us, many of our teachers were initially apprehensive. It seemed to be a lot of paperwork and books, and teachers were anxious they were going to be constantly 'checked up'. But they've since come to experience the lessons plans as a wonderful structure that aids them in the classroom and the lessons are now easy to prepare for. As a principal, I can now track exactly where each of my teachers are in the curriculum and if we're on schedule as a school." Elangabini Primary School principal, Mrs Beauty Mkhongi (centre) reviews the Jika iMfundo curriculum tracker, supported by her two deputy principals. The school management team has also started a year-long leadership and management programme with SEED. Mrs Mkhongi comments, "They taught us about teamwork so that everyone can contribute." Another initiative provided to participating OMEFP schools is an online app that helps principals to monitor the daily attendance of both teachers and learners. Mrs Mkhongi proudly takes out her smartphone to show us that Elangabini is currently at 93%. Later in the morning, our team heads off to the offices of the local Department of Education to meet the school's circuit manager, Mr Tom Sokhela who has 36 schools under his jurisdiction. He tells us in detail about the positive impact the Jika iMfundo initiative is having in schools where the programme is being piloted, with other schools now clamouring to get onto the programme. He recounts one example of a school last year where the educators picked up they were behind on the school learning schedule and opted to commit extra personal time with their classes until they caught up with their curriculum. It seems that good things are underway in KZN and one can only hope the impact and momentum of these combined initiatives gains traction quickly. Mark explains, "In one class the teacher was talking about public holidays, and specifically Heritage Day and what it meant to celebrate our heritage and culture. So this one child got up to demonstrate traditional dance as part of her culture." Post index: And we're off! Growing green futures For the love of reading Paying it forward In the heat of the moment The road to Camdeboo The light of one small candle Investing for the future The building blocks of business A heart for horses Mining for talent My ability is greater than my disability To be a nurse, you must be love There's no such thing as 'the voiceless' Mark my words The place where the sun rises Welcome to your future Strengthening families 
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March 20, 2016 When we planned the itinerary for the #Journey2 road trip, we wanted to visit selected schools in the four provinces in which the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project (OMEFP) is running. Today we're visiting St Marks College (594 pupils) and St Marks Primary (482 youngsters) in Jane Furse, Limpopo where there are 12 schools on the OMEFP programme. But first, a brief recap of what the OMEFP is all about. In 2013 Old Mutual spearheaded a national education initiative, to invest R350 million over seven years into under-resourced schools in key provinces. The overarching goal of the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project (OMEFP) is to increase the number of bachelor passes (university entrance) of Grade 12 learners who have maths and science in their subject choice. By doing so, the number of students who access university education increases, with the end result of more professional skills in the economy. A unique feature of the OMEFP project is rather than reinventing the wheel, it partners with specialist education organisations already operating in each region. So this means that participating schools in the different provinces are involved with different OMEFP programmes. Having said that, one of the consistent elements throughout all the OMEFP schools is the strong focus on strengthening school leadership. And St Marks College principal, Mr Dijo speaks of the SEED leadership and management development programme that the senior leadership of the 12 Limpopo schools have participated in for the last year. The programme offers intense workshops, individual coaching sessions and forms a community of practice. "I gained a lot of insight into myself and who I am," says Mr Dijo, "it's helped us as a school management team to work better together." St Marks College principal, Mr Dijo speaks about the school's leadership development. Not only did the OMEFP fund the construction of a fully equipped Learning Centre in which to run learning initiatives, but in partnership with LEAP Schools and Edunova (collectively named LEED), also trained up 15 switched-on, IT-savvy ITE's (Information Technology Entrepreneurs) who were then assigned to each school to assist teachers and learners how to better use technology both in the classroom curriculum, and also with school admin. ITE Gabriel Makoa (23) was appointed to St Marks College where he also facilitates group sessions to give learners a safe space to share their feelings and difficulties. Information Technology Entrepreneur (ITE) Gabriel Makoa (23) with a group of St Marks College learners. St Marks Primary principal, Mr Nkwane knows that IT skills are the way of the future for the youth, so his school has recently appointed ITE Betty Magabane as a permanent IT teacher. She says, "Even the grade 3's are now competent enough they know how to insert photos and graphs." Another aspect of school support provided to St Marks Primary has been the installation of four vegetable tunnels, which are maintained by the teachers and learners. The vegetables contribute to better nutrition and healthy meals for the young children. It's understandable when Mr Nkwane tells us that last year St Marks Primary received between 900-1000 applications, even though the school can only take 60-80 children each year. St Marks Primary teacher, Lydia Mlangeni helps Mark to get a veggie tunnel shot on a rainy day! As we prepare to leave the bell rings and the teachers start coming into the library for their morning break. I see Mr Nkwane move over to join his 17 staff for tea and sandwiches. He comments, "It helps us to work together as a team and build better relationships." St Marks Primary principal, Mr Nkwane.   Post index: And we're off! Growing green futures For the love of reading Paying it forward In the heat of the moment The road to Camdeboo The light of one small candle Investing for the future The building blocks of business A heart for horses Mining for talent My ability is greater than my disability To be a nurse, you must be love There's no such thing as 'the voiceless' Mark my words The place where the sun rises Welcome to your future Strengthening families 
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