Chairman’s Report 01-03-09 to 28-02-10
Notwithstanding the gloom of the economic downturn that cast a shadow over all NGOs in the country, our Fund began the year in a healthy financial position, ready to face the challenges of increased university student numbers requiring support, while continuing with our other core activities. These included the selection of secondary school pupils for bursary awards, arranging educational excursions, organisation of a ‘Life at University’ workshop to help prospective university students prepare for a successful university experience and also the development of a structured fund raising programme.
The outcomes based educational system adopted by central government met with enormous resistance by virtually everybody involved in school education and has finally and thankfully been consigned to the bin. It failed because as a country we were far from ready to adopt the complexities of a very sophisticated teaching programme. So now it is back to the basics: Reading, (W)riting and (A)rithmetic. As a result we hope our pupils’ skills in numeracy, literacy and decision making will be greatly improved in time to come. While Western Cape education is streets ahead of other provinces, there is no room for complacency. Continuing education and training of teachers and encouraging their commitment to their profession are musts if we are to achieve at least reasonable international standards.
The Greyton Genadendal Education Fund is now in its eleventh year. In this period we have paid for over 260 secondary school bursaries for pupils at Emil Weder High School, eight residential scholarships at the Overberg High School in Caledon and 29 University student bursaries with an average value of R4 000.00 p.a. The total expenditure of the fund to date has been well in excess of a quarter of a million Rands. In the next two years we shall be budgeting annually for about R200 000 to cover all costs when numbers of supported students are likely to have stabilised somewhat. There are also signs that the Government student aid programme will be overhauled in this period after which access to funding by indigent students should not only become less complicated but larger amounts will be granted to cover registration fees, travel and book costs, in addition to tuition and residential fees.
The Greyton Genadendal Education Fund embarked on a programme during the period under review 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.
- The total number of individuals supported by the Education Fund increased from 47 in the previous year to 51 in the current year. There are 35 secondary school pupils, 14 university undergraduates and 2 bright pupils who hold our Residential 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, continue to grow. Four of our bursary holders have been awarded mentoring and some financial assistance from that organisation. In return, we assist them with student selections and interviews. In this respect I am most grateful to Trish Buwalda, Marion Tate and Diana Segal for their assistance.
- The annual educational outing, this year to the Vergelegen Wine estate and Manor House, was deemed to be a great success. Thirty two pupils from grades 9 - 12 had an enjoyable day learning about the modern techniques of wine making, using a very sophisticated gravity-fed flow system, from crushing of grapes at the top of the winery, to barrel fermentation in the cellars some four storeys below. In addition they saw the old manor house and its gardens on the farm owned originally by Adriaan van der Stel, but restored later by Lady Philips. They were amazed at the opulence and comfort of the accommodation. Their group picture was taken in the shade of the 304 year old camphor trees.
- The second, ‘Life at University’ workshop was attended by 12 matriculants in December 2009. The format was similar to the successful meeting held the previous year, the purpose of which 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 greatly appreciated by the attendees and we have decided to make this an annual event.
- The number of university students who receive assistance increased from 8 to 14, 6 in first year and 4 each in second and third years.
- All 13 of our Emil Weder matriculants passed their final exams and 10 achieved university entrance qualifications. Four were awarded GGEF university bursaries to study Education, Business Management, Environmental Science and HRM. Two others from Overberg High School achieved excellent matric results and were accepted into Stellenbosch University and UCT respectively and were granted first year bursaries by GGEF to study languages, media studies and psychology.
- All eight of our existing university students passed their course exams and were promoted to the next year of study. A further student articled to an accountancy firm in Caledon was offered financial assistance to pay for his second semester courses during 2010.
- Fund raising has become the single most time-consuming activity for committee members. Returns have been somewhat disappointing. More than 50 major corporates have been approached, with few responding at all and just 3 showing some interest. We shall know their decisions only late in 2010 or early in 2011. We have found that the direct and personal approach to would be donors, although intensely time consuming, has produced better responses. We continue to hope that Greytonians will come to understand the long term benefits of educating our own young people, as a means of improving the living standards of all in this region and will accordingly give generously and regularly. Small amounts like R100 a month by many donors quickly make a big difference. Since we enjoy Public Benefit status, all donations by South African tax payers can be claimed as a rebate on one’s income tax.
Our network of extremely generous donors, some in Greyton and many elsewhere in South Africa and abroad, continue to give us support and hope for the future. The young people in this region have come to depend on the Fund as a means of fulfilling their educational dreams and many have referred to our donors as ‘Angels from Heaven’ and are extremely grateful for your help. They realise that without your interest and concern their chances of furthering their education would be greatly reduced. Many are blown away by the fact that you the donors, unknown to them, even care! We offer our warm appreciation to you all, and grateful thanks, on behalf of our student body for your kindness and consistent support.
We are most grateful to the headmaster of Emil Weder High School, Mr Geoff Adonis and his staff who have given us their utmost co-operation in our dealings with pupils. In this regard, Mrs Matilda Du Plessis is also to be thanked for her liaison work and the extra time she spends on pupil selection and academic reporting.
Members of the committee have given most generously of their time, facilities and funds in supporting the administration of the Education Fund. I thank them all for their commitment, expertise and energy, given so freely.