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Stars Foundation invests in organisations and ideas that transform the lives of disadvantaged children and their communities globally.

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South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP)

The Challenge

In the township of Philippi, Cape Town, residents suffer from complex challenges that have left them with an unemployment rate of 50% and many households relying on government grants as the only source of income.

Poverty, poor service delivery – many people live with no electricity or running water – and a constant struggle with social and health issues such as teenage pregnancy, gangs, substance abuse, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS, leave children's welfare and education neglected within the community. With under-resourced schools, low pass rates and few extra-curricular activities, the education system needs support for both teachers and students to equip them with basic skills.

The Response

The South Africa Education amd Environment Project operates in impoverished townships, working with local residents to improve their social and physical environments. SAEP's high school programmes support high-potential students, teach advanced computer skills and offer art workshops and environment clubs.

SAEP's Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme helps struggling township preschools develop into sustainable, quality education providers through ongoing training, long-term mentorship, structural upgrades and nutritional support. SAEP also offers assistance to those going from high school into tertiary education.

Since 2003, SAEP has improved the quality of education, staff capacity and physical environment at 17 ECD centres serving more than 2,500 children. It has offered ongoing training to more than 70 principals and staff as well as provided 250,000 nutritious meals to children.

Its Bridging Year programme prepares promising students for success by providing academic tutoring, mentoring, career counselling, leadership training and skills development. Bridging Year students improve their marks on 89% of rewritten final high school exams, with an average of 15 points in maths and 17 points in science.

The Hope Scholars programme provides intensive academic tutoring, mentoring and enrichment activities more than 100 promising students each year. The programme has had a 100% retention rate in an environment with dropout rates of 10-12%.

The Result

SAEP has been awarded twice by Stars. As 2012 Runner Up, the organisation directed its funding to five key areas:

  • Institutional development activities such as increasing the organisation's capacity for monitoring and evaluation; innovation, research and development; knowledge-sharing (internal and external); staff professional development; Board of Directors development; and advocacy activities.
  • Strategic planning and ongoing mentoring of senior management in leadership of the organisation, capacity building, and leadership succession planning. 
  • Building a financial reserve to ensure future sustainability.
  • Hiring a part-time office manager and administrator, allowing the Director and programme managers to concentrate on their key roles. 
  • Improving the organisation's capacity and performance in fundraising through long-term consulting and improvements to its website and publicity.

Photos: Andy Aitchison

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