Santam and UNICEF partner to promote quality education and safer schools

13 March 2013 Temba Mvusi, Santam
Temba Mvusi, Head of Market Development at Santam

Temba Mvusi, Head of Market Development at Santam

SANTAM, South Africa’s leading short-term insurer, today announced that it has partnered with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Department of Education in Mpumalanga, to promote safer schools and quality education in the province.

Over the next three years, the total investment amount of R5.2 million towards the roll-out of the Safe and Caring Child Friendly Schools (SCCFS) programme will help ensure that 175 schools in disadvantaged communities of Mpumalanga receive additional teaching and learning support and assistance to improve school management systems. The partnership will also promote the strengthening of life skills amongst learners – with a focus on preventing gender-based violence, HIV and teenage pregnancy.

These schools face a myriad of social challenges that negatively impact on academic performance.

“South Africa has made significant investment in public schools to improve standards, yet inequalities persist and the school system continues to reflect the country’s economic disparities. However, we see the value in the Safe and Caring Child Friendly Schools programme, which will help improve learning outcomes and school environments,” says Temba Mvusi, Head of Market Development at Santam.

At the centre of a Safe and Caring Child Friendly School is the revitalisation of teaching and learning in an effectively managed school environment, with the support of a functional and accountable district support base. Emphasis is also placed on developing capacity at a school leadership level to manage social, environmental and governance issues, and the establishment of after-school sports and recreational activities.

“Collaborating with partners such as UNICEF and the Department of Basic Education, which have experience and credibility in the field of development, provides Santam with an ideal platform to leverage additional resources and tackle broader societal issues affecting schools in South Africa,” adds Mvusi.

“Programmes like Safe and Caring Child Friendly Schools are aligned with our recently refined CSI strategy that focuses on safe and secure community schools as well as the core of our business, which is managing risk. The importance of programmes which actually address key social risks such as increased levels of violence and substance abuse cannot be emphasised enough, as these are the real issues many communities are currently facing and which ultimately create barriers to quality education for children.

“We have also partnered with NICRO on the Safety Ambassador Programme, Schools @ the Centre of Community, and with the City of Cape Town’s School Resource Officers’ programme in our efforts to manage social risks affecting teaching and learning in South Africa.”

Recent findings in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report indicated that South Africa was ranked as 143rd out of 144 countries in terms of the quality of Math and Science education. South African primary schools were placed 132th out of 144 countries with regards to overall quality teaching. Supporting quality education within a safe and protective environment that encourages learning significantly minimises the risks posed by economic inequalities, skills shortages, unemployment, crime and violence within communities.

UNICEF South Africa Representative, Aida Girma says, “Schools are an important personal and social space for children, but their desire to learn can be undermined by the many hardships they face. Schools provide a key platform for breaking cycles of violence and poverty, but for children to stay in school and complete their education, their school environment must be physically safe, supportive and child-focused.”

Santam will be looking at how the programme affects school results and the well-being of the learners, and whether these achievements benefit the wider community. “We are confident in this programme, as UNICEF has worked with provincial departments of education in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape to implement the model,” concludes Mvusi.

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