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September 14 2011

Taking Education Beyond the Classroom

Johannesburg--Skills learnt in the classroom are only one aspect of an individual’s education. For poverty in South Africa to be addressed, our youth also needs to be equipped to manage their environment, health and finances. With this as its central premise, Sanlam recently launched a corporate social investment foundation, where projects that help foster these skills are pursued. The Sanlam Foundation works through a series of partnerships with local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
“We recognize that our efforts as a South African corporate citizen will be best amplified through partnerships with organizations that specialize in the areas in which we are hoping to make an impact," explained Lulu Letlape, executive head of group corporate affairs at Sanlam Group. "Partnerships are already in place with exceptional organizations such as Operation HOPE, the Regency Foundation and the WWF, among others.”
The common thread that runs through all of Sanlam’s projects is staff involvement, according to Letlape. “Involving our people is key to our CSI strategy," she said. "Not only do we believe in engaging and mobilizing entire communities around the rallying cry for education, but an equally important distinction is that employees as well as executives of Sanlam are encouraged to get involved."
Specifically, the Sanlam Foundation focuses on financial literacy; environmental education awareness; leadership development for school management; HIV/Aids education; and Maths, Science, English and Accounting.
During National Savings Month in South Africa, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan revealed that South Africans are still not saving enough. Between 2001 and 2010, the household savings rate amongst South Africans declined by an average of 0.1 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) every year. The Minister attributed this decline to various reasons including people’s ’short-term’ outlook, the lack of transparent and cost-effective savings products, and poor financial awareness among potential savers. Sanlam's partnership with Operation HOPE will aim to address these issues. 
“Operation HOPE will bring financial literacy education to 20 schools in the Western Cape and Gauteng over a period of three years. With this initiative, Sanlam and Operation HOPE will reach around 4000 pupils at an average of approximately 200 pupils per school," Letlape said. "All financial literacy classes are presented by Sanlam employees who have enrolled and received appropriate training as volunteer facilitators. Approximately 80 Sanlam employees from the Western Cape and Gauteng offices have already signed up as part of Sanlam’s National Start Something Day."
The financial literacy modules to be covered will include: the basics of banking; cheques and savings; credit; entrepreneurship and investments. The program is not only content driven but also includes a number of exercises that will force participants to actively think about financial issues.
One of the other major partnerships is with the Regency Foundation and the provincial Department of Education. Sanlam launched HIV&Me in 20 schools at KwaMashu and Umlazi in KwaZulu Natal this month through the Regency Foundation, an NGO that assists schools and governing bodies to develop, integrate and implement their own school specific policies. It does this in keeping with the principles of the national policy on the management of HIV&AIDS in schools drafted by the Department of Education for public learning institutions.
HIV&Me is unique in that the participating schools, which are identified with the support of the Department of Education, are involved in a comprehensive two-year HIV&Me program. It starts with training workshops for all stakeholders (teachers and the community), includes in-classroom delivery of the program for Grade 8s, which is embedded into the curriculum through Life Orientation, and concludes in the second year with the same pupils now in Grade 9. Another component that sets HIV&Me apart from other programs is the corporate partner engagement. Through this aspect, Sanlam Group will impart financial literacy skills to the pupils and the community.”
One of Sanlam’s longest collaborations, which now falls within the Foundation, is the WWF Sanlam Living Waters Partnership. It forms a key part of environmental awareness education and sustainability. It seeks to catalyze concerted action from government, the private sector and civil society around the sound management of South Africa’s aquatic resources.
Other projects Sanlam Foundation projects include:
  • A partnership with Protec that will focus on Maths and Science education for learners in Grade 10 to 12 in the North West.
  • The Thuthuka Bursary Program (owned by SAICA) that will award eight bursaries a year to aspirant black chartered accountants for their studies.
  • The Sanlam Ubuntu-Botho Schools Development Trust Project, a schools project aimed at providing light infrastructure and building teacher skills and capacity to 80 under-resourced schools across the country.
  • The Billion Child Appeal, a one-year project that will assist parents to help kids with homework and assignments.
  • The Executive School Program where Sanlam Group Exco members nominate a school (either an under-resourced school or their former high school) and establish how Sanlam can make a meaningful impact at the school.