Enterprising School Leavers

Enterprising School Leavers
Learning Brief

Bot River Education Foundation

Human development through educational excellence in the community of Botrivier

Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Facilitate access to educational opportunities | 24 March, 2013 - 03:14


The community of Botrivier, situated at the foot of the Houwhoek Mountains in the Western Cape, is actively investing in the future of their children. Spearheaded by the Botrivier Education Foundation (BEF), this town with approximately 6000 inhabitants supports all high school students who excel in mathematics, accounting and physical science. This support is in the form of a mentoring programme from grade 9 which prepares the students for ultimate entry into university.  In 2013, 21 students are at various universities and colleges studying inter alia accounting, law, science, psychology, and mathematical education.  

What have we learned from this experience?

“See one, do one, show one”

The learning experience is manifested in the behaviour of the students and their parents who are currently at university and colleges. This project succeeds and is self-sustainable because the parents are actively participating in all activities aimed at preparing the students for ultimate entry into university. How is that done? Mentors guide the program, but the parents lead the program. They are at the forefront of organising the main fundraising event. They accompany students during academic visits and educational excursions, attend progress feedback sessions, and help with academic goal setting throughout the senior school phase. Together with their children parents research and enquire about university admission criteria and help with the university application process during the matric year. The mentor’s role is one of facilitation.  Our motto is “Learn by doing it yourself”.  Help however is not far away.

The obvious aim is helping these students to “hitch their wagon to a star” and in the process transform not only their family but also their neighbours. Hidden behind this aim and being the most important achievement of BEF, is the expanding critical mass of students and their parents who have gained the experience of how to get into a university or any other tertiary institution. They understand and share the celebrations, but also the commiserations of university life. The critical mass stands at 30 adults and 12 senior university students from Botrivier who can advise their peers first hand.

In the past it used to be customary for mentors to accompany the first year university students on a pre- registration visit to the various campuses where students were accepted. The purpose of these visits is to finalise admission at the various faculties and sort out accommodation and required finances.  For the past three years though it is not the mentors who accompany new students and their parents anymore, but the current senior university students and their parents. Suddenly the narrative comes alive: “Don’t worry, we will help you, show you and accompany you to the various admission and faculty offices. We’ll show you how to apply for admission, bursaries and accommodation. We will show you all the pitfalls and we can testify that by all means it is not beyond your reach”.

Remember all these students in our program bar one, are first generation students i.e. no family member has studied at university before. They are now being guided by their next door neighbour so to speak and the pool is expanding fast. We have now reached a situation where the mentors can stand back allowing the Botrivier community to help and propel this development exercise themselves. It is a self-driven project rooted from deep within the community with tangible outcomes. 

Much more can be conveyed about other developmental benefits for Botrivier branching from the Botrivier Education Foundation’s educational mentoring program. Suffice to state that the BEF have evoked keen interest from surrounding towns to the extent that students from Grabouw, Caledon and Genadendal have become part of the program.  NGO’s in neighbouring towns are looking for partnerships with BEF. This is exactly what we hoped for and the direction in which we are heading.


Bot River Education Foundation

P.O. Box 549 Cape Town Bot River Western Cape South Africa

 083 773 2574


In Short

In this short learning brief the Bot River Education Foundation shares the secret of their successful community-based student preparation programme. 

 Search for lessons learned:

Leave blank for all. Otherwise, the first selected term will be the default instead of "Any".
Leave blank for all. Otherwise, the first selected term will be the default instead of "Any".