Chairman’s Report 01-03-08 to 28-02-09

 It is common knowledge that education in South Africa is in a severe state of flux. This has been the case for the past decade and more, and is likely to be so for the foreseeable future. Rural schools have been worst affected. Many suffer from, among others, low teacher morale and quality, lack of leadership and inadequate facilities. On the other side there are often poor parenting skills and a severe lack of parental involvement in the education of their children. Training in early childhood development, which is so important as an intellectual foundation for future mental growth, is almost nonexistent. The situation in the Western Cape schools is perhaps less problematic, but there are still many shortcomings which we hope will be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The Greyton Genadendal Education Fund is now in its tenth year. Initially we paid the school fees of up to 32 Emil Weder learners each year. They were selected from grades 9 – 12 and were children whose marks were average or better and whose families were very poor. In practise this meant they were very often from single parent families and were at risk of dropping out of school altogether.

With the abolition of school fees at Emil Weder the emphasis changed. Bursary holders are still selected, awarded certificates, have their school registration fees paid and are eligible for an annual outing. There is, however, a perceived need, and money is available to extend the bursary scheme to encourage and assist those going onto tertiary education. Their requirements are broader, but meeting this need is now the fund’s main area of endeavour. Identifying and coming to know bursary holders throughout several years of schooling helps greatly when selecting those who seek assistance with their tertiary education.  Against a backdrop of high failure rates at university, the Fund has adopted a holistic approach to support, whereby students from grade 11, at least, are stimulated to consider their future subject choices and are armed with the necessary skills to help them deal with the transition from school life to that in tertiary institutions. So often the self disciplines required to make the first year a success are lacking. Mentoring first year students can make a huge difference to the pass rate and is just as important as providing financial support.

 With these thoughts in mind, the Greyton Genadendal Education Fund has embarked on a programme to improve its service to our bursary holders at schools and at universities, while attempting to retain the core activities of secondary school pupil support and, of course, fund raising. Several initiatives designed to enhance the status and functions of the Education Fund have been finalised during the period under review.

  • The Fund’s Constitution was revised to comply with the conditions set by the Department of Social Development for registration as a non profit organisation. The constitution was duly recognised and we are now registered as a non profit organisation. (NPO 065 242)
  • Application was made to the Department of Finance to be registered as a Public Benefit Organisation. This was granted with our registration number, 930 028 194.
  • Since we are now a recognised public benefit organisation, future AGM’s will be conducted in public and members of the public will be invited to join.
  • Rigorous selection and interview processes have been introduced in an attempt to find learners / students who display passion and commitment to their studies at both high school and university levels. These are early indicators of a successful university career.
  • The total number of individuals supported by the Education Fund increased from 35 in the previous year to 47 in the current year. There are 35 secondary school pupils, 8 university undergraduates, 1 mature student at Damelin College in paralegal studies and 2 promising learners who hold Fund Scholarships at the Overberg High School which offers a wider range of academic subjects than those available at Emil Weder.
  • Our links with the NGO, Rural Education Access Programme, have been strengthened. Four of our bursary holders have been awarded mentoring and some financial assistance from that organisation. In return, we assist them with their selection procedures and interviews.
  • The annual educational outing, this year to the MTN Sciencentre, was deemed to be a great success. Thirty two pupils from grades 9 - 12 had an enjoyable day playing with interactive scientific demonstrations, building electric motors and learning about nuclear power stations. The centre was marked as a definite venue to be visited again in a few years time.
  • Twelve Emil Weder High School matriculants attended a one day workshop in December, 2008 entitled, ‘Life at University’. The purpose was to expose our potential university students to some of the more salient issues they would be confronted by during their first few months at a tertiary institution. Subjects dealt with included registration, useful university facilities, student finances, loans etc., the structure of a university, study techniques, time management, risky behaviour and more. The workshop was given a high rating by the students, who asked that it be repeated annually.
  • The number of university students who receive assistance increased from 3 to 8.
  • All 10 of our matriculants passed their final exams and 4 achieved university entrance qualifications. These four were granted first year bursaries to study respectively, Law (UNW), Radiography (CPUT), Business Management (CPUT, 2). The remaining 6 gained entrance to FET colleges.
  • Four supported students in second year are studying Nursing (UNW), Nursing (UWC), Human Biology (UNW) and Radiography (CPUT).
  • The fund raising sub-committee was activated to develop a fund raising programme to provide for the future needs of the Fund. A brochure was designed to assist with advertising our activities and will be distributed at the Annual General meeting. Fund raising methods will include both individual donor networking, which has been most successful to date, and approaching larger donor organisations in RSA and abroad.

 The ability of the Education Fund to grow and develop its programme has been made possible mainly through the generosity of our network of donors in South Africa and abroad. Many have taken a personal interest in the progress of our students and appreciate news of our activities through the annual Bulletin published by Hans Wegerdt. We offer our warm appreciation to you all, and grateful thanks on behalf of our student body for your kindness and consistent support.

It is a pleasure to acknowledge the headmaster of Emil Weder High School, Mr Geoff Adonis and his staff who have given us the utmost co-operation and have always been willing to assist with solving any problems that inevitably arise. In this regard, Mrs Matilda Du Plessis is also to be thanked for her liaison work.

The Chairperson accepted an invitation to join the Emil Weder High School Bursary Committee which assists underprivileged learners gain access to tertiary institutions by payment of registration fees and some transport costs.

Greyton is known as a town with a big heart. The people of Greyton are for ever offering to help good causes by giving generously of their time and kind. The members of this committee are exceptional in this regard and it is a privilege for me to be associated with them. Thank you all for your help, hard work and time so willingly given. Our only costs to date have been bank charges, accounting fees and printing our brochure. All other administration costs have been born by members.

Areas of activity of the Education Fund that require urgent attention include

·         Improved liaison with university administration.

·         More frequent communication with existing university students (mentoring).

·         Extending the donor network to ensure sustainability of the Fund.

All these activities are labour intensive and require generous assistance from volunteers. We hope and trust that these volunteers will come forward from the new membership.

Mathematics at matric level continues to be a problem at Emil Weder High School. We desperately need to find a volunteer senior maths teacher who can assist the overextended staff by offering extra afternoon lessons from July onwards.

Cyril Beardwood                    

June 2009