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  • News

    Reflecting on South Africa’s Educational Challenges

    As South Africa commemorated Freedom Day on 27 April, the nation paused to reflect on the strides made since the end of apartheid in 1994. The journey from segregation to a non-racial constitution has brought significant transformation. However, despite progress, challenges in education in South Africa remain.

    Efforts to improve the quality of education in our democracy have seen the introduction of curriculum reforms, teacher training, and infrastructure investments, resulting in improved literacy, increased enrollment, and expanded higher education access for marginalised communities.

    “Quality education is a cornerstone of employability and reducing poverty. Yet, how do we support students in disadvantaged communities or those with severe cognitive impairments? All individuals have the right to education and work,” says Jackie Gallagher, founder and general manager of Sparrow Schools Educational Trust.

    Established in 1989, Sparrow Schools Educational Trust began as a Saturday school, to address the then basic education challenges in South Africa, and with just four learners. Today, the institution offers education from Foundation to FET College levels, empowering over 970 students annually.

    Jacki Gallagher, awarded the Presidential Educational Award by Nelson Mandela in 1997, for the work done with children who have special needs.

    Jackie adds, “At Sparrow Schools, we believe that every child, regardless of their background or challenges, deserves access to quality formal education. We are committed to breaking down barriers and empowering young South Africans to reach their full potential.”

    One such success story is Siphamandla Mlangeni, whose life was transformed through his education at Sparrow Schools. Born in the Free State and raised in Dobsonville Ext 2, Siphamandla faced emotional challenges after the tragic loss of his father. Despite this, Siphamandla found a supportive community and thrived at the Sparrow Foundation and Combined Technical Schools. Thereafter, he continued his educational journey at Sparrow FET, studying business administration and IT. Now employed at Sparrow Schools Educational Trust, Siphamandla serves as an inspiration to others, demonstrating the transformative power of education. He offers this advice to others facing hardships: “Never give up, no matter how hard it gets.”

    Sparrow Schools former student, and now employee, Siphamandla Mlangeni

    As we approach South Africa’s 30th democratic elections on 29 May, let us strengthen our dedication to creating a more inclusive and equitable education system, ensuring every child can fulfil their potential. As citizens, we need to recognise our power to positively impact both  our democracy and education systems. We can make a difference.

    For more information on Sparrow Schools Educational Trust and how you can contribute to education in our country, please visit Sparrow Schools Educational Trust.