Enterprising School Leavers

Enterprising School Leavers
Learning Brief

African Scholars' Fund

How we work and what we've learned

Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Facilitate access to educational opportunities | 30 October, 2012 - 10:09


As an education NGO in South Africa, we are increasingly trying to present a coherent voice and build a systematic relationship with government and other educational agencies.  We are geared towards ensuring that government keeps the promise of bringing about ‘education for all’. Our strategy is to afford as many South African young people as possible the opportunity of furthering their secondary and FET college education. We are ensuring that the most disadvantaged groups are adequately skilled, qualified and developed so to sustain economic growth. Our continuous improvement towards excellence in the standard of performance and professionalism is shown by measurable results.  

FET Colleges

The selection of deserving and able bursary candidates are conducted maintaining a realistic selection process, specifically looking at the following aspects: age of the applicant (must not be older than 25 years of age), must have completed grade 12 with at least 50% in most subjects, proof of household income and a motivation letter from the applicant. Bursaries are awarded to successful applicants and confirmation letters are issued and posted with an agreement letter that needs to be signed and returned to us before the payment is done.  Unsuccessful applicants are also notified.  A Student support workshop is then facilitated at the FET colleges which gives us an opportunity to meet all bursary holders in person. The purpose of the workshop is to inform, guide, inspire and motivate students and also to ensure them we are available and accessible at all times. Topics like attitude, self-awareness, goal setting, time management and study skills are covered.

Bursary administration is managed through the best possible structure and procedures for the effective administration of bursaries.  Invoices are requested from the colleges, a thorough check on each invoice is done and all monies are transferred directly to the college account. A list of students whose fees and books are being paid is sent to the student support officer at each campus. Monitoring the student’s progress during the term is an important part of our programme.  Results are analysed and actions taken in the case of under-performing students.  In these cases the involvement of student support services and other organizations becomes helpful for referral purposes.

Liaison with educational institution is continuously maintained to foster relationships and to promote our work for the benefit of students.  Specifically we require the FET institutions to provide us with financial and academic progress reports. They also assist in allocation of transferred bursary funds to individual student fee accounts. In addition the institutions provide venues for student support workshops and assist by advertising our bursaries on their notice boards.  

Some of the challenges include the poor co-ordination of the FET college sector as well as the fact that  the curriculum remains unrevised.  The public perception and lack of identity of the FET colleges is also a problem, people tend to think that FET Colleges are meant for underperformers.   Another serious challenge is the availability of suitable lecturers.

Although there are many challenges there is also much hope for our youth.    We believe that every young person deserves a chance in education.   The service that we render to our students is so unique and not offered by any of the colleges.  As such it is highly appreciated by the young people that we work with. 

Secondary schools

As is the case for FET colleges in schools we also try to offer the financial opportunity of completing their secondary education to promising young learners from desperately poor homes.  In addition to this we offer guidance when the need is identified – in terms of advice around educational issues and where possible around coping with the home or social environment.  This work is labour intensive and many challenges are ongoing though:

In schools: Schools are overcrowded, educators are not ideally qualified, there is a lack of resources, weak management and insufficient funding.  

In terms of the learners: Learners tend to make poor subject choices due to limited career guidance and resources.  There is high levels of absenteeism, often a general lack of motivation and a myriad of social ills (gangsterism, drugs, unwanted pregnancies).  Learners also have limited adult supervision and have to travel long distances to school, suffer with hunger, deal with peer pressure etc.

How we deal with:

  • Poor subject choices: We have developed an advice booklet for our grade 9 bursars.  It highlights the importance and benefits of completing the FET phase at school and offers a measure of guidance on career options.
  • Limited career guidance: To assist our grade 12 bursars we have developed an information pamphlet to advise on issues such as:  where to apply for post-school bursaries, the entry requirements for study at Universities of Technology, Universities and Public FET Colleges, documentation and attributes to consider when intending to immediately step into the World of Work.
  • Absenteeism, attitudes and social ills:  Letters of motivation and encouragement are sent to our bursars throughout the year.  We make every effort to respond to each and every letter received, addressing their concerns expressed.  Where necessary, especially in out of town cases, we ask Social Workers to assist.
  • Limited resources: We hope that our bursary goes some way towards addressing this problem for our bursars.  

Our suggestions in terms of policy development

Grade 9 learners

Offer workshops towards the end of the 3rd term aimed at helping the learner identify where their interest lies. Help them explore their hobbies (this is an indication of where their interest lies) and help them to look within to discover their set of values and what is important to them.  Guide them in electing subjects that match their field of interest so that they can start working towards their future in a more structured way.  Help to give them a vision – ignite their desire to rise above their current situation.

Grade 12 learners

Offer workshops before the June exams/holidays.  Guide them in identifying careers that match their subjects.  A learner that wants to be a doctor can start as a nurse especially if her results are not allowing her immediate registration at an Institution of higher learning.  Too many of our learners simply give up because they have no motivation, no guidance, no support and no access to finance.  Encourage learners to use the June holidays to investigate their options and to offer their services on a voluntary basis to gain practical insight.


Make every effort to put resources into place.  Every school needs a library – not necessarily a state of the art facility.  If no classrooms are available, partner with private business and put a container or two in place.  Focus on material that the learners can use when attempting to do their projects.


African Scholars' Fund

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