CHAIRMAN’S REPORT for the 2010 / 11 period
Since our main concern is education of young people it is appropriate to consider some aspects of our education system nationally and locally. This past year has witnessed two serious interruptions to the schooling system. The advent of the Soccer World Cup resulted in an extended mid-year holiday. This was followed by a prolonged teacher strike. Both events seriously eroded the teaching programme, but the political view was that their impact on the matric results was negligible. The outcome of the matric exams was generally lauded by the Department of Education as a great improvement, with a rise in the overall percentage pass rate. Objective analysis by seasoned professionals, however, gave a very different picture. The number of individuals who wrote the exam was significantly reduced with probable failing candidates having dropped out. Hence the apparent rise in pass rate. Also the level of pass mark was low, so a great many pupils were given a matric pass with an average of less than 45% often with one or two subjects in the 30% range. Their chances of acceptance by any university were zero! In the context of this background, it is gratifying to report that all our twelve matric pupils passed their exams, while seven gained entrance to universities. One has since dropped out. We had budgeted for 10 and were disappointed at the outcome. One of the major stumbling blocks preventing pupils of Emil Weder High School from following their chosen academic careers is their selection of maths literacy in place of mathematics. This is a soft option subject that has very little, if any, academic merit. A concerted effort should be made in the country to encourage teachers to become more proactive in encouraging grade 9 pupils and onwards to study maths and science seriously.
That said, the year began on a sound financial footing with many new donors, including Greytonians, contributing generously to the Fund. Your commitment to our students gives an enormous boost to their self esteem and keeps committee members positively motivated to keep the programme on track. Thank you so very much for your support. A great many students have shown their appreciation to you in written comments and emails to us. They are fully aware that without your interest in their welfare and success, their chances of realising their goals are seriously reduced. The Government announced that the student financial aid scheme would be modified to permit final year students who pass all their subjects to convert their loan for the year to a non repayable bursary. This is an excellent incentive to these students to apply themselves to their studies and resist the temptation to spread their final exams over two years. Such students will continue to depend on our financial support.
During the period under review, the Fund continued with its core activities in providing secondary school pupil support, including an outing to the Maltings factory in Caledon; bursary support to university students in the form of ‘top up’ funding, and a mentoring component; and our annual workshop on ‘Life at University and, of course, fund raising.
- The total number of individuals supported by the Education Fund increased from 51 in the previous year to 53 in the current year. They were 35 secondary school pupils, 16 university undergraduates and 2 bright pupils who hold our Residential Scholarships at the Overberg High School.
- We continue to operate as a regional representative of the NGO, Rural Education Access Programme. Cyril Beardwood, Trish Buwalda and Marion Tait assisted REAP with student selections and interviews.
- The SAB Maltings factory in Caledon was the venue for this year’s educational outing. The 30 or so pupils were greatly impressed by the magnitude of the installation, the largest in the southern hemisphere that produces four by thirty ton batches of malted barley each week. After the tour the pupils were royally entertained in the board room with cool drinks and chips.
- The third, ‘Life at University’ one day workshop was attended by 12 matriculants in December 2010. The format was similar to the successful meetings held in previous years, the purpose of which was to prepare new university students to deal with some of the many difficult problems they have to face during their first year at a tertiary institution. The workshop was greatly appreciated by the attendees and will be held annually in the future. Many thanks to Marilyn, Ray, Charlotte, Trish and Judy for their most generous help with the arrangements for lunch and refreshments throughout the day.
- The number of university students who receive assistance increased from 14 to 16, with 6 in first year, 6 in second and 4 in third year.
- Fund raising, as always, demands a great deal of time and energy. We continue to adopt the direct and personal approach in recruiting support and building our donor network. There have been many generous responses this year, not least from Greytonians, for which we are most grateful. About 57% of donor income is derived from South African sources and Greyton residents have provided half of that. The funding from abroad (43%) comes from the USA, UK and Benelux countries. Particular thanks to Hans Wegerdt for his most energetic and successful fund raising in the UK and Germany. Thank you again to all our loyal and generous donors. To those who have fallen off the list, we thank you warmly for your past support. We hope that new members will join us in sponsoring new students next year. 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 are not taxed.
- Partnerships have been formed with two funding NGO’s, one in Holland and the other in South Africa. Stichting Projecten Zuid-Afrika (South Africa Foundation) is a Dutch fund-raising NGO that focuses on South African charities and provides funding, advice and international exposure. They have been extremely helpful to us with a pledge of top up funding to help with any shortfall on costs, broadcasting our details on their website and general advice. We in turn have agreed to provide SPZA with regular annual reports (Fund activities, Financial statements, Student details and outcomes). Phambile Trust is a South African NGO that offers similar services to ours but to rural students in the Northern parts of the country. Our arrangement is more informal but most cordial whereby part support of students from one region will be undertaken if the student is studying in the other region. At present, Phambile Trust is assisting one of our students who is preparing for veterinary studies at Pretoria University.
- We are most grateful to Ria Wills, a well known business consultant working out of Greyton, who led a workshop on the principles of mentoring for our committee members involved in that work. The many constructive ideas that evolved from her coaching will be employed in dealing with our students’ problems more effectively. Ria has offered to continue this exercise with regular feedbacks. Thank you very much, Ria.
- Our new website under construction is almost complete. It will be launched before the end of June 2011 and its link will be www.ggedufund.org.za. It should prove to be an effective medium for broadcasting our activities, needs and successes to a world-wide audience.
- New university students receiving our support are required from 2011 to sign a mutually binding agreement that defines their responsibilities as well as those of the Fund.
We are most grateful to members of staff of Emil Weder High School and in particular to Mrs Matilda Du Plessis and her replacement on our committee, Ms Odile Petersen, for their liaison work and all the extra time they spend on pupil selection and academic reporting.
All 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.
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