Corporate Social Investment
We understand that education is one of the most important tools for promoting and improving equality. We therefore commit a significant proportion of our profits to CSI, the bulk of which is allocated to bursaries, scholarships and financial support for deserving learners at educational institutions acrossthe Group. This is consistent with our approach of widening access to education for less privileged learners who are unable to access finance to study at our institutions.
We are committed to this contribution, because education is central to transforming our society sustainably. Our CSI approach equips historically disadvantaged students with the skills to participate in and contribute to our economy.
In 2010 Varsity College entered into a partnership with Thuthuka (a bursary fund run by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)) and Deloitte & Touche to provide full bursaries to African and coloured students wishing to pursue a career in Chartered Accountancy. The project will enable 25 students to study towards a Bachelor of Accounting Science degree through Unisa at Varsity College’s Durban North campus in 2011.
Many of these learners attended rural schools in outlying areas and had succeeded academically despite living in abject poverty. In addition to their academic studies, Varsity College has enrolled these students on a personal extension programme and has assigned each of them a mentor, thereby facilitating their best chance of success.
Forbes Lever Baker (FLB) launched their Umfundisi bursary programme in 2008 to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds graduate with accounting degrees. Admission criteria to the bursary programme are not based on marks, but rather on the financial need and attitude of candidates.
In 2008, 10 students were enrolled in the programme. Their backgrounds varied from rural school matriculants to those who were heads of households at the tender age of 18. At the end of 2010, five of these students graduated with Bachelor of Accounting Science degrees from Unisa, all of whom are currently registered for postgraduate studies. The top performing student in this cohort (who failed Mathematics and Accountancy in her Matric year), achieved six distinctions in her final year. The remaining students are completing their studies and are part of the 50 students currently enrolled on the Umfundisi bursary programme at FLB.
The Imagination Lab, a Vega and CAFÉ (Communications and Advertising Forum for Empowerment) initiative was launched in 2003 to fast track transformation within an industry that is still largely not representative of South Africa’s diverse cultures and population. SETA approved training provides matriculants from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to explore the creative world and be exposed to a variety of dynamic career options. This programme has impacted the lives of 656 historically disadvantaged students from KwaMashu, Alexandra and Soweto over the past four years.
Our teacher bursary scheme, launched in 2007, plays its part in addressing the need for quality teachers in South Africa.
The majority of these bursary students are studying to teach Mathematics, Physical Science or English. In addition to completing their practical training at our schools (where they are mentored by our teaching staff), workshops are facilitated to prepare them for working in the teaching profession when they graduate. Currently, 41% of these students are historically disadvantaged South Africans. We are committed to increasing this percentage significantly in the next year. Since inception, 19 students have been permanently placed across our school brands.
Reaching out to communities
By sharing our skills, many of our schools have established long-term partnerships with schools in disadvantaged communities that benefit from various projects initiated by our staff and students. For example:
Crawford Preparatory Lonehill has a long-standing relationship with the teachers and learners of Diepsloot Combined School (Diepsloot). Every Thursday, a preparatory school teacher from Diepsloot spends the entire day with a Crawford teacher. They are twinned according to subjects/ phases where teaching plans, approaches and ideas are cross-pollinated. In 2010, three matric students from Diepsloot were selected to study teaching as part of the Group’s student teacher bursary scheme. Crawford also sponsors an aide for the Grade R teacher at Diepsloot who has over 40 learners in her class.