Background: Public Education Failing the Majority
South Africa has made enormous progress since full democracy in 1994, but still faces a range of challenges and inequalities. Future success depends on the skills of our children.
Yet the standard of public education is very poor. Deplored as a “national disaster” by one expert, the system leaves SA at the bottom of international league tables in maths and literacy. Newspapers regularly highlight poor performance and according to the Financial Times, the poor state education system is a root cause of many of the country’s social problems – high crime rates, skills shortages and unemployment.
• 60% of children drop out of public education before grade 12
• An estimated 3 million adults are illiterate and another 8 million are functionally illiterate
Inequality was once built-in to the education system (it is often quoted that the apartheid government spent 16 times as much on the education of a white child as on a black child), but even today there is a huge achievement divide between those who can access private, or former white/model C schools and those whose only option is a basic government school.
“Inequality continues - white kids do reasonably and black kids don’t really stand a chance unless they can get into a formerly white school or the small number of black schools that work.”Graeme Bloch, education expert at the Development Bank of Southern Africa
• Matric passes at former model C schools in 2009 were 88%, compared to 59% of all government schools (Business Day, Jan 2011)
• Matric rate at private schools is 98% (Dept of Education, Feb 2008)
The Need for Bright Start
If we don’t act, yet another generation of kids remain firmly disadvantaged, just like their parents before them and the vision of a new, integrated and equal South Africa slips further into the future.
Bright Start’s aim is to bridge the achievement divide one child at a time, to contribute to the transformation of our society.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela
Bright Start is based in Hout Bay, a village community, often described as a microcosm of South Africa, as black, coloured and white families share a valley and its amenities, but the future and opportunities of the children from those families often present a stark contrast.
Bright Start in Action
Bright Start was launched in 2008 and now supports 20 children, ranging in age from 3-9, through a well reputed crèche, pre-school and primary school in Hout Bay.
It was begun by founders with positive personal experiences of sponsoring children and an appreciation of what was needed to make it a success.
Access to high quality education is at the core of the Bright Start programme, but through experience, we have learned that funding school fees alone is not enough to ensure a child’s all round success. Over the past 3 years, Bright Start, along with many partners in Hout Bay and beyond, have developed a three-dimensional programme that partners the family in supporting their child’s development both in and outside school.
1. Support to attend a good school on an equal footing
• financial support for the costs of schooling
• safe, reliable transport
2. Support for care & development after school
• financial support and co-ordination of after-school care
• extra learning or development help where necessary
• access to highly subsidized extra-mural activities (parents pay a nominal contribution)
3. Mentoring & Facilitation
• on-going mentoring of child
• termly mentoring of parents, along with access to life-skills workshops
• facilitation of the relationship with the school where necessary
4. Wellness & Cultural Enrichment
• access to highly subsidised medical & dental care (parents pay a nominal contribution)
• cultural enrichment programme (workshops, visits, etc.)
The children’s progress is phenomenal: they arrive at pre-school with little exposure to puzzles, books, or creative play and within a term they are confident in the classroom and off on playdates. By grade 1 they well integrated into school life, have a good mixed friendship circle and are performing in the top 25% of their classes, as their school reports show:
“Not only is Diego a star in the classroom, but he has proved to be a super athlete too“
“He has become a leader amongst his peers and has a good influence on class dynamics”
“Priscilla is a conscientious worker and a pleasure to teach”
“Ashley is now in the top group for Literacy and Numeracy…his improvement has been outstanding”
The local schools are enthusiastic and supportive:
“Having Bright Start kids at Kronendal is a great for the school. They are involved, achieving and rewarding and my staff know they and their families are well supported” Nathan Levendal
Key Success Factors: Why the Bright Start Programme Works
o We select families who value education and are motivated to invest in their child’s future and accompany them all the way.
o We use a set of 7 clear criteria to assess applicants
o We select for the programme at pre-school age to facilitate easier integration.
o The programme functions as a partnership between Bright Start, the parents & the schools/service providers – all 3 partners invest in the children’s development
o They say it takes a village to raise a child and in Hout Bay we are fortunate to have active support from the local community, who partner with us to provide many services:
• Local professionals and businesses offer free (or highly subsidised) after-school care, medical & dental treatment, swimming lessons, sports, birthday parties & more
• Many local families fund a child & take an interest in their progress
Commitment & Responsibility:
o Parents sign a contract committing to contribute financially, attend school and support meetings, provide a healthy diet and give their time when needed. If they fail in these responsibilities, they can be expelled from the programme. So far everyone has exceeded our expectations and enthusiastically attend workshops and regularly help out making thank-you cards, etc.
o Bright Start has committed to the families over the long term and have therefore tried to set up the programme and its funding responsibly
o The 17 families now form a network that provides their own mutual support
Where Has Our Funding Come From?
To date, our funding has been achieved through networking and the support of a few individuals and companies who believe in Bright Start. They have donated the school fees of named children for a minimum 2 year commitment. We keep our funders connected with the child’s progress and so far all our funders have renewed that commitment.
We have found corporate donors to fund the infrastructure costs, ensuring private funding can go directly to paying the beneficiaries’ school fees (for example a vehicle is being sponsored, together with costs by Massmart Group and Fuel-on-Line, salaries by Succinct Communications).The organisation and programme runs for the most part on donated time and resource (we have a committed team of volunteers), so overheads are kept to a minimum, with only two employees (Programme Director & Driver).
Local service providers partner us by donating in kind to cover the “extras” (medical, sports, etc.).
We are slowly expanding our “earned” income through fundraising events and sports sponsorships.
What Help Do We Need?
1. We are supporting one child on the programme who doesn’t yet have a personal funder. His monthly costs run at R2200 a month. We are also facing a shortfall on the costs of 3 other children. This has happened because of increases in school costs, which our current funders haven’t been able to stretch to.
We are currently looking for R6523 a month to consolidate the existing support programme.
2. Now we are set up and delivering, the Bright Start programme has the capacity to support 30 Hout Bay children and their families through their school career, without increasing our overheads. We would hope to give another 13 children a chance to change their lives.
Average Monthly Cost Average Annual Cost
School Costs Per Child: R2,000 R20,000
After-school care per child: R1,000 R10,000
Realising our dream of expanding to 30 children would mean finding at least R26,000 a month (ideally R39,000 to include after-care costs)
Bright Start has made a long-term commitment to these families and seeing the current cohort of children through to matriculation represents 15 years of support. We are looking for funders who can partner with us for at least a year. Our plan is to use income earned through events and any one-off donations to begin an endowment trust to try to secure long-term sustainability.
The Benefits of Donating to Bright Start
There are other benefits beyond helping a child towards a brighter future and contributing to the successful future of South Africa….
SA tax-paying individuals:
You can receive back from SARS the taxable portion of any donation you make (up to 10% of your taxable income).
Within the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment scorecard, government encourages charitable donations that are economic as well as social (category 7). Donations to Bright Start fall perfectly within that category and attract scorecard points.
For a donation of 1% of net profit after tax, companies with a turnover of R5-35 million would receive the maximum 25 points for category 7 and those with a turnover of over R35million would receive the maximum 5 points (smaller donations are calculated on a pro-rata scale).
Our Credentials & Contacts
Bright Start is a Section 18A Non-Profit Organisation (no 93003074).
Bright Start believes in transparency and accountants A & E Platinum Services, Westlake Business Park are appointed to produce annual accounts. Audited accounts are available.
The offices are located in Hout Bay, Cape Town, where files are maintained on each beneficiary, detailing events, school reports, and regular monthly reports by the programme director. All donor organisations are encouraged to visit.
Trustees & Management Team:
Sally Whitford, Co-Founder & Trustee
Local resident of Hout Bay, Sally was educated in the UK. She is a business owner and entrepreneur. Mother of four and currently sponsoring a child through the programme.
Sharon Scudamore, Co-Founder & Trustee
Born and educated in South Africa, Sharon has established and run her own businesses in both UK and SA. She now has ten years hands on community experience in the Western Cape. Currently sponosoring a child through the programme.
Fiona Maitland, Programme Director
Born in Cape Town, but with professional experience in both South Africa and the UK, Fiona has worked with children for 25 years. She has run her own crèche, as well as working in schools and established a support programme in Masiphumelele, assisting children with English and life-skills. Fiona has developed the Bright Start programme into a sound model.
Please contact us for any further information:
021 790 0458 or 072 458 3711
Donations of any kind are hugely appreciated:
Account no: 2676029258
Branch Code: 167609
Account Name: Bright Start Education Support Programme
SWIFT CODE: NEDSZAJJ