Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Striving for Education Excellence

Johannesburg — Boitjorisong resource centre's long-term goal is to establish the Sasolburg education district as a region of education excellence in South Africa. The centre is funded by Sasol and to achieve this goal the company has formed partnerships with the Free State Department of Education and other major industries in the area.

Boitjorisong sponsors in-service training programmes through technology advanced equipment and resources. It provides access to 138 computers and runs a high-tech life education project against drugs and substance abuse and an HIV information programme.

The centre offers:

- Career guidance. It gives school-leavers the opportunity to make informed career choices and position themselves for the workplace. A computerised centre provides information about various vocational fields; industry visits are organised in which experts interact with and coach students; and the centre also focuses on job interview skills, how to compile a CV and financial guidance.

- Teacher training. Boitjorisong assists the education department in training teachers in outcome-based education methodology, enabling them to develop their own teaching aids and workshops.

- Support for the teaching of maths and science. The centre arranges district classes and has 60 laboratory kits that it lends to schools. It also organises the annual Sasol Science and Technology Exhibition, which seeks to stimulate interest in the sciences and technology. The exhibition attracted 43000 learners last year.

- Life-long learning, from pre-school to adult basic education. About 63 500 learners and 2063 teachers benefit from the centre. Thirteen pre-schools in the area use the school-readiness programme and the centre provides photocopying facilities. Computer studies is offered as a seventh subject to many of the schools in the area. Chat groups have been formed between local schools and schools in Canada via the Internet. The winter holiday school for grade 12 learners drew more than 4000 learners this year.

In its entry to the Investing in the Future Awards Sasol says it has "taken a long-term view on the sustainability of the project. People are given skills, training and guidance, access to facilities and encouragement, which enables them to develop themselves and uplift their communities.

"Learners of all ages are able to acquire better qualifications, which ultimately lead to better jobs and a better standard of living."

Boitjorisong resource centre benefits 168 schools, 342 farm schools and 125 000 learners.

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