Streetlights Schools: Wellness In Education

In keeping with sustainable school design and child mental health development, Streetlight Schools has developed a Wellness Education Policy that specifically focuses on young learners’ wellbeing and health.

Building occupant health is of the greatest importance as it directly influences productivity, concentration, health and morale. Research indicates that occupants who work, live, play and learn in sustainable buildings are more productive; and, if wellness policies are implemented, occupants become less stressed and healthier. In education, this includes both staff and teachers as well as the students who occupy the building.

A Wellness Education Policy has been developed at Streetlight Schools – Jeppe Park Primary, the first school in South Africa to achieve a 4-Star Green Star Interiors v1 As Built Rating, demonstrating ‘Best Practice’. The primary school is built on the floor of an old shoe factory in inner city Johannesburg as part of a redevelopment initiative by Bjala, and the education of students in all areas of development and sustainability is evident when you visit the children at the school over time.

Streetlight Schools’ focus is on high-quality low-cost education that puts the wellbeing of the students first; and the new Wellness Education Policy specifically focuses on young learners’ wellbeing and mental health.

Studies in sustainable school design and child mental health development indicate that the main spheres of development in young learners include social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, intellectual and physical wellness. Sustainably designed environments such as classrooms, libraries, play and social areas improve not only learning but also creativity and mental wellbeing.

Physical and mental stress are usually associated with various negative health problems such as psychological disorders and personal isolation from family and friends. As children experience these negative factors from an early age, it is essential to provide them with support to alleviate any stress that might cause mental illness in adulthood.

The Wellness Education Policy implemented at the school allows for topics such as: Creativity and Curiosity; Social Interaction; Physical Activity and Play; Feelings, Emotions and Surroundings. Each learning module linked to each topic includes various wellness and environmental benefits to ensure that all spheres of childhood development are covered. Children are also taught about healthy sleeping habits, fitness and diet, which are essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

In response to its inner-city context, school-ground greening was incorporated as part of the building’s refurbishment. School-ground greening allows for various outdoor activities as well as the inclusion of nature as an integral part of learning and development. The rooftop farming project, implemented on the roof of the development: allows the children to learn about environmental wellness through natural food production and cycles; stimulates their curiosity and problem-solving abilities; and contributes to intellectual development. The natural food produced is also incorporated within the healthy diet that is provided for all students at the school daily.

Seating spaces and a new outdoor play structure allow for social interaction between children; and the secure outdoor environment created for the students allows for physical activity and emotional wellness as children can safely interact and play within the inner city.

Streetlight Schools serves as a progressive model for educating young learners in a sustainable and healthy environment.

Impact of Sustainable School Design on Primary School Children’s Mental Health and Well-Being: II. MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING, pg.32. Int’l Journal of Advances in Agricultural & Environmental Engg. (IJAAEE) Vol. 2, Issue 1 (2015), http://iicbe.or.pdfg/upload/3373C0515020.

Africa feeding Africa

While North America’s farmers pin their career hopes on the need to feed a hungry Africa, that continent’s farmers are making plans of their own

A core belief in North American agriculture is that our farmers must produce ever more food if we are to have any hope of feeding the world, particularly areas like Africa where the population is growing so rapidly.

The numbers are indeed staggering.

According to the Population Reference Bureau, Africa’s population will hit 2.5 billion by 2050, and the United Nations estimates that Africa’s share of the global population will increase from 16 per cent in 2015 to 25 per cent in 2050 and 39 per cent in 2100.

These statistics certainly do underscore the need for additional food. But what about the other half of the equation. Yes, demand will rise. But will that demand have to be met by imports?

Some African farm leaders are convinced that agricultural development on the continent will see Africa, led by South Africa, feed itself in the decades to come, meaning it will actually reduce its reliance on the global community for its food security.

Realistically, it may set its sights even higher.

“Agriculture accounts for 65 per cent of the continent’s employment,” said Dr. Klaus Eckstein, CEO of Bayer South Africa, at a recent conference of agricultural journalists in South Africa. “Africa has the potential to be self-sustaining as well as to feed the world. We can produce crops that match the standards of leading countries around the world.”

His words were echoed by Dr. John Purchase, CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, who stated that revitalizing the agriculture and agri-processing value chain is at the top of nine major focus areas for growth in the country.

It’s not easy farming in South Africa, he added, citing political problems, land reform policies, and water scarcity as significant challenges. The current drought across the Southern and Western Cape areas of the country, a major horticultural production area, is the worst in more than a century, for example.

“Africa is where big population growth will come in the next 35 years… it’s a massive opportunity for agriculture but also a critical risk if we don’t get it right,” Purchase said. “For example, how we manage our water is critical to the future, but we have diversity in South Africa where we can produce a whole range of crops from tropical through to livestock production.”

Progress is already being made with South African farmers and marketers starting to grow sales on their own continent instead of in Europe or elsewhere.

According to Purchase, Africa has become a growing destination for South African agricultural exports since the global economic downturn in 2008 that affected the country’s long-established export markets, particularly in Europe.

“By far since 2008, Africa is our destination; more than 50 per cent of our agricultural export goes into Africa,” Purchase said, attributing a large portion of this success to South African supermarket chains expanding into neighbouring countries like Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mauritius and Zimbabwe.

The change is particularly evident in the fruit and vegetable sector. According to the South African Produce Marketing Association, Africa has surged to number two in the top five major export markets for African fruit, behind only the European Union, and ahead of Asia, the Middle East, United Kingdom and Russia.

In vegetables, Africa is also the second most popular destination, accounting for just over 34 per cent of all fresh vegetable exports from South Africa; 83 per cent of potatoes, 80 per cent of carrots, 78 per cent of garlic, 76 per cent of ginger, 54 per cent of cucumbers and 34 per cent of tomatoes stay on the continent.

“Africa is the only part in the world where land can still be brought into production; the countries with the biggest growth potential in Africa and potential for South African farmers are in western and eastern Africa,” said Lindie Stroebel, CEO of the Produce Marketing Association. “Local procurement has become a priority for some supermarkets to address complications of transportation and border crossing.”

This evolution is evidence of the forward-thinking attitude of many leading farmers in South Africa despite the risks posed by infrastructure challenges, climate change, government policies and a growing number of brutal attacks on predominantly white farmers in the country.

Brylene Chitsunge is one such example, having bought her 1,000-acre farm near Pretoria in 2010. The feisty black farm leader raises Kalahari red goats, a breed of African cattle called Nguni, pigs, ostrich, rabbits and chickens, as well as growing vegetable and fruit crops.

Innovation and collaboration are the name of the game on her farm, where she’s willing to try just about anything to see if it will succeed, with the rule being “everything has to produce.”

Chitsunge’s small tomato crop now fills 10 greenhouses and is sold to over 200 restaurants as well as in leading South African retail chains like Pick n Pay and SPAR. She invented an overhead spray system for her greenhouses to help her produce a consistent, quality crop — each 1,000-plant greenhouse will produce about 10 tons of tomatoes.

“Quality, sustainability and appearance are very important,” Chitsunge said, adding that technology can help farmers add value. “I have cameras to stream video of my veggie fields or my chickens laying eggs for customers and I can remote-view my farm from anywhere.”

She’s also an outspoken advocate for advancing women and small-holder farmers, and for the need for education to build Africa’s agricultural future.

“It’s a value train, not a value chain,” Chitsunge says. “Education is so important, and if we get that right, it’s time for Africa,” she said.

The Schoeman family has been growing citrus in South Africa for almost a century, and the family business ships oranges, lemons, and mandarins from its almost 3,500 acres northeast of Pretoria to 32 countries around the world, including Canada.

They’re in the midst of building a new pack house to accommodate new plantings of mandarins and lemons, and are transitioning towards bio-friendly production, always with an eye to the future.

“If my neighbour’s farm goes up for sale, I would buy it; we have such a strong belief in South Africa,” said family patriarch Kallie Schoeman, a former South African national farmer of the year whose self-proclaimed motto is: “Get bigger, get better or get out.”

ZZ2 is one of South Africa’s largest produce companies, growing tomatoes, avocados, mangoes, and more, as well as raising stud cattle and weaners. The family-owned business employs almost 10,000 people in primary agriculture throughout South Africa, and uses a consistently updated framework to lead company development for the next 12 months.

That includes constantly adding new crops, new land, new technologies, and new markets as well as continually seeking out new opportunities.

For example, ZZ2 recently added almost 30 acres of cherries which strategically ripen about the time when British Columbia’s crop ends — making the company the only one in the world with fresh cherries for a six-week period, said ZZ2’s CEO Tommie van Zyl.

“We never thought we’d have a product that was so wanted it is being flown out — they’re flying to Hong Kong right now,” van Zyl said.

It’s a pattern that is repeated more and more, with horticulture creating models for other farmers to follow.

“We are building ZZ2 for the future, and the way we see things developing, it will represent in the future what South Africa looks like,” said van Zyl. “The future is more important than the past… we are inspired by what we think we can become.”

 Source: country-guide


Charting a new vision for energy efficiency

As part of its rebranding, the Southern African Energy Efficiency Confederation is redefining its purpose and vision. We take cognizance of our current recession with its uncertainties and the constraints on investment and growth. Whilst businesses are struggling to survive and consumers are looking for opportunities to cut costs, we believe that Energy Efficiency remains core to our sustainable growth and prosperity as a country and continent. Not only does the focus on energy efficiency assist in mitigating the impending rising costs in energy, but it also will save money for businesses to survive and grow. This will foster growth and investment for the greater good and prosperity for all.

Admittedly energy efficiency is not the only sustainability solution, however, it does unlock the nexus with other energy solutions, water, food, climate change mitigation and social development. At the same time, where businesses are struggling to survive or thrive, we are looking at ways for the Confederation to be the recognised link to partnerships, addressing challenges and finding solutions that will serve the needs of its members.

At the recent United Nations Conference in Trade and Development, (UNCTAD) seminar, in which we participated, the South African achievement in energy efficiency and climate change were applauded. These achievements were a collaboration between the South African private sector and with government Other African countries also attended. However, there is still much to be done and hence the SAEE Confederation envisions being the recognized link to policies, partnerships and programmes that support energy efficiency.

The UNCTAD seminar revealed that investors are interested in the promotion of green industries, and companies who integrate some of the 17 Sustainable Development (SDGs). For more about the SDGs, CLICK HERE. As part of charting its new vision, the SDGs which bear particular importance for the Confederation are: Affordable and Clean energy; Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure; Responsible consumption and production and Climate Action. Enablers to reaching these goals include amongst others, SDGs such as Quality Education; Gender Equality and Partnerships for Goals. With both the national and global context in mind, the SAEE Confederation is in the process of implementing the following actions:

Information sharing: Rebuilding its digital platform to promote ease of access to information that will support successful implementation of Energy information and best practice. Through its annual conference and other events, the SAEE Confederation will continue to profile cutting edge information, knowledge and engagement on key issues and innovation in the industry.

Capacity Building and Networking: The Confederation is planning various platforms with government and other partners to support capacity building and networking for an improved drive towards a skilled and measurable impact on energy efficiency and climate change mitigation. Promotion of Energy Services: The Confederation is promoting the development of the Energy Services Companies’ Association (ESCOs) to build the human resource, technical and job creation opportunities required to implement energy efficiency in both the public and private sectors.

Empowerment of women: Through its South African Females in Energy Efficiency division, (SAFEE), the Confederation recognizes that a pipeline of young women need to be mentored and supported to promote inclusivity of young people and women in particular, in various roles that promote energy efficiency. It also recognizes the pivotal role played by women in social development and growth of the economy and therefore, the need to increase participation, management and ownership levels in this sector.

Measurement and Verification: In order to track progress in reaching Energy Efficiency targets and facilitating access to incentives and investments based on Energy Efficiency performance, the Confederation will continue to promote the Measurement and Verification sector.

Building Sectoral Competitiveness: Through its affiliate: Thermal Insulation Products and Services SA (TIPSASA), the Confederation encourages a sectoral approach where associations work together to optimize opportunities. Working synergistically through their value chains will enhance the competitiveness of the entire sector. The Confederation welcomes the membership of other associations who support such a common purpose.

Recognition of Excellence: Through its Energy Efficiency Awards which link to the international awards such as the Clean Energy Ministerial Awards and the American Energy Engineers Awards (AEE), the Confederation has extended its range of awards and intends enhancing the prestige of these awards in order to showcase best practice, leadership and acknowledge the hard work of those who champion continuous improvement of resource efficiency and competitiveness. CLICK HERE for more information on the awards.

If you are not yet a member of the SAEE Confederation we’d like to leave you with this quote:“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” John C. Maxwell

Source: saee

Newmont ranked mining industry’s overall leader in sustainability again

Newmont Mining Corporation, the parent company of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (Ahafo Mine) and Newmont Golden Ridge Limited (Akyem Mine) has been ranked the mining industry’s overall leader in sustainability for the second consecutive time by the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI-World).

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This achievement also marks the tenth consecutive year Newmont has been included on the DJSI-World, making it the only mining company to have achieved this milestone.

Newmont was the first gold company named to the index in 2007, and has been included on the DJSI North America Index since 2006.

“Our company’s commitment to Newmont’s Sustainability and Responsibility values has contributed significantly to this recognition from the DJSI-World. We thank our employees and business partners for staying true to our purpose of creating value and improving lives through sustainable and responsible mining.” said Alwyn Pretorius, Newmont’s Regional Senior Vice President, Africa Operations.

He added: “These recognitions are further proof of our strong contribution to our host communities and Ghana.”

In addition to being ranked the overall industry leader in the mining sector, Newmont received the highest score (100th percentile) in a number of areas including Occupational Health and Safety, Risk and Crisis Management; Climate Strategy; Environmental Policy and Management Systems; Water-related Risks; Asset Closure Management; and Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy.

The DJSI-World, one of the most highly regarded sustainability indices includes 316 global companies identified as leaders in the areas of sustainable economic, environmental and social performance.

Since it commenced operations in Ghana, Newmont has instituted a number of comprehensive social investment programmes in education, healthcare, infrastructure, human resource development, local content support and other sustainability initiatives at its Akyem and Ahafo operational areas.

Newmont Ghana’s strong performance in these areas contributed to Newmont’s second time recognition as the world’s leader in Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

This year, Newmont Ghana’s Akyem mine was ranked the first among Ghana’s 100 most prestigious companies (Ghana Club 100) while its Ahafo mine was ranked 8th.

The Akyem Mine was also adjudged the Leader in the Petroleum and Mining Sector Rankings. Both mines have also been ISO14001 certified and indicate their adherence to the highest standards in environmental practice.

More information on Newmont Ghana’s safety, economic, environmental and social performance can be found in Newmont’s annual sustainability report, Beyond the Mine.
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Africa Is Failing to Close the Gap On Providing Water and Sanitation


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring access to clean water and sanitation for all by 2030 is an ambitious target for Africa. According to new research by non-partisan research network Afrobarometer, nearly half of Africans don’t have access to clean water and two-thirds lack access to sewage infrastructure. Improvements in both of these areas have been made in the past decade, but huge numbers of Africans still live without these basic necessities.

The lack of access to water and sanitation has not gone unnoticed by people living in Africa. Almost half of the continent’s citizens are not happy with the way their governments are handling water and sanitation.

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The global Millennium Development Goals’ target for drinking water was met in 2010. About 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved sources of drinking water since 1990. Five developing regions met the drinking water target, but the Caucasus and Central Asia, Northern Africa, Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa did not. In the area of sanitation, the target was missed by nearly 700 million people. The only developing regions to meet the sanitation target were the Caucasus and Central Asia, Eastern Asia, Northern Africa and Western Asia.

Lack of access to water and sanitation is a matter of life and death. Contaminated water and inadequate sanitation help transmit diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery and typhoid. In Africa, more than 315,000 children die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. Globally, deaths from diarrhoea caused by unclean drinking water are estimated at 502,000 each year, most of them of young children.

The situation on the ground

To assess the situation on the ground, the research looked at 36 African countries in 2014/2015 and asked nearly 54,000 citizens about their access to water and sanitation. This was in addition to recording direct observations in the thousands of surveyed communities.

We found that almost half (45%) of Africans went without enough clean water for home use during the past year, while one in five (19%) did so many times or always. One-third of surveyed communities (36%) lacked access to a piped-water system, and two-thirds (68%) lacked access to sewage infrastructure.

The infrastructure situation has improved somewhat over the past decade. Across 18 countries that Afrobarometer has tracked since 2005, the share of communities enjoying piped-water supplies increased by 14 percentage points, and sewerage has been extended to an additional 8% of communities.

Even for those who live in zones with the necessary infrastructure, however, access to clean water and toilets is often difficult. More than half (51%) of those surveyed said they had to leave their compound to access water. One in five had to leave their compound to use a latrine, and another 8% had no access at all to a latrine or toilet, even outside their compound.

Rural residents are far worse off than their urban counterparts when it comes to access to water and sanitation. Two-thirds (66%) of rural respondents had to go outside their compound to access water, compared with 30% of urbanites. About 27% had to go outside the compound for a toilet and 11% had no access at all to a toilet. This is compared with 12% in urban areas, where just 3% had no access to toilet facilities.

Experiences vary widely across countries. Almost 74% of citizens in Gabon and 72% in Liberia reported going without enough water at least occasionally, compared with 8% in Mauritius and 15% in Cape Verde. Going without enough water many times or always affected more than one-third of citizens in Madagascar (42%), Gabon (39%), Guinea (38%) and Togo (37%).

By region, Central Africa had the highest proportion of respondents who said they went without enough water at least once (55%), while North Africa recorded the lowest (33%). Rural residents were more likely than their urban counterparts to experience water scarcity (50% vs 39%).

Where water ranks as a priority

Water supply ranked fifth in importance across 36 countries when citizens were asked about the most important problems facing their country. It followed unemployment, health, education and infrastructure/transport. But it was well ahead of concerns about political violence, corruption, electricity, crime and security, and agriculture. And water supply was the top problem identified in water-poor countries like Burkina Faso, Guinea and Niger.

On average, a majority (55%) of citizens rated their government’s performance in handling water and sanitation services as fairly bad or very bad. These negative appraisals were the majority view in all regions except North Africa, but even there, 46% rated their government’s handling of water and sanitation services as bad.

And public dissatisfaction is increasing. Across the 18 countries that Afrobarometer has tracked over the past decade, negative public ratings of government performance in providing water and sanitation services increased from 41% in 2005/2006 to 55% in 2014/2015. They worsened dramatically in Madagascar, where there was an increase of 47 percentage points in fairly/very bad ratings, followed by Ghana (28-point increase in negative ratings), Senegal (23 points), Botswana (16 points), Mali (15 points) and South Africa (13 points).

These declining performance ratings should be a red flag for democratic governments that are still unable to provide their citizens with these most basic services. Safe and readily available water is a human right and an important contributor to public health. Improved access to safe water and sanitation boosts economic growth, contributes to poverty reduction, and is fundamental to achieving the goals of improved health and education, greater food security, and improved environmental sustainability.

So modest improvements in coverage of water supply and sewerage systems are set alongside significant declines in government performance ratings. Perhaps this seeming incongruity indicates that citizens’ expectations about the quality of infrastructure and services that they should receive (or even demand) from their governments are rising.

Other questions still require further exploration, for example the question of whether progress can best be realised through local control and/or nongovernmental organisations or foreign investment, or whether centralised government investment, management and control of water infrastructure is the better approach.

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Youth the key to competitiveness and growth in Africa

Brand South Africa presented an overview of the organisation and its efforts to encourage competitiveness in Africa at the 2016 Junior Chamber International (JCI) Africa and Middle East Conference, held in Johannesburg from 4 to 7 May 2016. The organisation presented during the conference’s Active Citizenship Workshop on 5 May 2016.

CEO Kingsley Makhubela also gave a keynote address on nation branding and the power of the youth in strengthening the nation brand.The Active Citizenship Workshop, presented by members of JCI Africa, focused on encouraging young people to become partners in progress for socioeconomic development. The aim of the workshop, and the conference itself, was to harness effective youth development practices to engage young people in the active roles they can take to build social cohesion.Delegates included JCI president Paschal Dike of Nigeria, and Tshepo Thlaku, chairman of the 2016 JIC event and president of JCI South Africa.

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The BSA presentation highlighted the many strides the country has made in building its reputation in Africa and the world. It also looked at the social and economic advancement of the country through active citizenship and a strong focus on trade and industrial competitiveness.The presentation aimed, in the words of the Brand South Africa slogan, to inspire new ways to motivate other African countries to become storytellers for the continent.

In his keynote address, Makhubela spoke about how young people have the ability and passion to continuously change the world. He used the examples of both the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto student uprisings and last year’s #FeesMustFall demonstrations.”South African youth demonstrated how they could come together and collectively fight for a cause that would change the conditions for millions of young people in our country,” Makhubela said. “Education is a critical enabler for development and equally for national competitiveness. The youth of South Africa did more than just fight for no increases and additional funds, they are fighting for the country’s very development.”Turning to global issues, particularly those affecting Africa and the Middle East, Makhubela said youth power was key to spreading democracy and reducing inequality. “Young people are playing a critical role in raising levels of awareness about the unsustainability of current frameworks and paradigms,” he said.Concluding, Makhubela emphasised that young people must understand that with every right comes a responsibility to change the world without destroying it. He quoted the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for long term growth and development on the continent, which states: “Present generations are confident that the destiny of Africa is in their hands, and that we must act now to shape the future we want.”

Annually, the JCI conference brings together over 1 000 young active citizens, representing more than 50 partner countries from Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The attendees participate in a host of inspirational sessions, practical workshops, meetings with important political and economic players, as well as fun social events. These all encourage emerging young talent to share best practices, exchange ideas and determine the future of the organisation and the young people in the regions it represents.

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SA’s Grootbos named NatGeo finalist in World Legacy Awards

Cape Town – South Africa’s highly-acclaimed Grootbos Private Nature Reserve has been honoured by National Geographic as one of 15 finalists in the esteemed World Legacy Awards. The recognition is for Grootbos’ work in its Grootbos Green Futures Foundation, and list Grootbos as a finalist in the ‘Engaging Communities’ World Legacy Award.

This award recognises direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods, including training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care and education.

Lean Terblanche, director of the Grootbos Green Futures Foundation told Traveller24, “the award shines a much-needed light on the importance of conservation and sustainability initiatives in tourism around the world. Our actions today affect the world for centuries to come; no one will benefit from tourism [in the future] if we do not protect our people and our planet.”

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The Grootbos Green Futures Foundation, started in 2003, is non-profit arm of the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve which focuses on community based training and capacity building to support poverty alleviation, provide upward job mobility and advance nature conservation in the high biodiversity region known as the Cape Floral Kingdom where Grootbos is located.

To date, 143 local residents graduated from the Green Futures Horticulture and Life Skills College founded by Grootbos and all were successfully placed into jobs.

Other community benefit initiatives include the Football Foundation which provides HIV/AIDS Awareness training in local schools to educate children about reducing transmission risk and the Siyakhula Growing the Future Organic Farm project providing valuable training in sustainable farming knowledge.

The Grootbos Green Futures Foundation is honoured alongside other internationally acclaimed institutions and organisations, but is the only South African organization to be awarded.

Sharing the nomination with Grootbos is the Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy in the United States as well as the category winner, The Bushcamp Company in Zambia.

The Bushcamp Company, says NatGeo, has worked hard to bring the benefits of sustainable tourism to the local population of the Luangwa Valley, recognizing that protecting the natural environment means fully involving the local community in management and decision making.

In 2015, Grootbos also became a founding member of National Geographic Society’s National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, which acknowledges exceptional boutique hotels in extraordinary places around the world with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability, authenticity and excellence.

The Bushcamp Company was also featured in this awards. In SA, Grootbos was named alongside two other proudly South African lodges.

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Gauteng caters for children with special needs

The Gauteng government has made strides in accommodating pupils with special educational needs by building eight special schools in the townships.

Premier David Makhura said the eight schools were currently functional, adding the government would open a further eight such schools later this year. Makhura said the government was also establishing schools of specialisation to strengthen its skills base, especially in critical areas such as commerce, maths, science and technology.

“In the coming months, we will launch a school of specialisation in Emndeni in Soweto,” said Makhura. The government is spending more than R560 million on bursaries, learnerships and internships to equip the youth with the necessary skills and work experience.

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“This will increase to R1 billion over the next two years,” he said. Gauteng municipalities were presently spending close to R30 million contributing to the education of children from poor households, said Makhura. He stressed education remains the backbone of radical social-economic transformation and that a nation that neglects education, neglects its future.

The Gauteng government is progressing with the further rollout of smart schools in the province. In 2014 they introduced the Classroom of the Future and last year the province had seven schools connected to the e-learning platform.

“We now have 1 861 grade 12 classrooms, 3 098 grade 11 classrooms and 42 schools connected to the e-learning system.” The premier said at the Protea Glen Secondary School and the Chief Albert Luthuli Primary School he witnessed firsthand how ICT has transformed both the learning experience of children and the teaching experience for teachers.

Teachers at the school said kids now arrive very early and stay much longer after school due to the increased level of interest generated by self-learning through the tablets government provided.

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Studying at a foreign university: what is at stake?

For millions of African youths and adults, whose countries’ education system is found to be chaotic and seriously underdeveloped, studying in a foreign university is a matter of pride, excellence and a quick passport to getting a good, well-paying job.

In the SADC region, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana appear to be the countries of choice to study for thousands of SADC citizens – undergraduates and post-graduates – the majority of whom hope to stay put in these so-called fine countries for various reasons once the game of study is over.

SADC higher education: figures and facts

A study conducted by the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA) found that the SADC region comprises 66 public universities, 119 publicly-funded polytechnics or colleges and 178 private universities or colleges.

SARUA is an organisation representing vice-chancellors of public universities.

South Africa has 23 of the public universities and 70% of overall enrolments in the region, according to the same report. Five of the 15 countries – Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland – have a single public university.

In other countries, numbers range from two in Malawi and Mauritius to nine in Zimbabwe.

Zambia has three public universities, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique have four, Madagascar has six and Tanzania has eight.

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Welcome to the new world

But studying in a foreign university, whether private or public, is not bread and butter as the fees are high, the challenges are enormous and the pressure is tremendous.

Therefore, only the youths issued from the well-off families, financially stable and working people attempt this epic journey.

Caroline Nzoigba, a DRC student who proceeded to South Africa to study for a master’s after graduating from the University of Kinshasa, recounts tales of excitement, sadness, loneliness, xenophobia, shock of cultures, discrimination and violent crime.

“The pasture is not always green on the other side,” Nzoigba says. “Sometimes, you feel that everyone – lecturers, administrators and fellow students – is against you and seems to be plotting your downfall.” “As a foreign student, you don’t get the same treatment as locals in all aspects, and that really pisses you off,” she says, adding that rent, transport, funding, among others, are first of all given priority to locals.

“Jane”, a Zambian student who studied in Zimbabwe for six years and went on to live there for 10 years, says the situation is not always sweet as many people think.

“If I had my way, I wouldn’t send my future kids or any of my family to study abroad, especially in Southern Africa, and in these so-called advanced countries”.

“We all had the same level of study and the same degrees and attended the same institution, but I was discriminated against when it came to jobs.”

“I still believe that I was good enough to get those positions but twice I missed out because I was a foreigner.”

Portrait of postgraduate studies in SADC

There are around 57 700 masters and 10 600 doctoral students in SADC, most of them in South Africa, a SARUA study found, adding that postgraduate registrations were critically low through much of the region, impacting on high level skills available.

However, despite getting the biggest chunk of postgraduate registrations, South Africa is seen to be a hostile land for many foreign students, who nevertheless brave the country’s xenophobic tendencies – both from government and learning institutions – to harvest success.

An eye-opener research conducted by the Academy of Science of South Africa and published by the Mail & Guardian newspaper shows that international students who attend South African institutions tend to finish their doctorates faster (in about 4.5 to 4.6 years) than their local counterparts (who take an average of 4.9 years).

“The quicker the completion rate for a postgraduate degree, the more the institution benefits from government subsidies,” the research added.

“Not so many bursaries are available for postgraduate international students … Yet the research that we do is applicable to South Africa and benefits the same country that denies funding to international students,” the South Africa-based weekly newspaper quoted one postgraduate student as saying.

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Source: southernafrican

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Education is crucial to South Africa’s success: Ramaphosa

Thousands of learners and students attended the Youth Development and Career Expo at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in Soweto to listen to government’s plan for youth development in South Africa.

The expo was convened by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Learners and students who attended the Expo were inspired by leaders from government on how they can be successful in their studies.

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They came from all corners of the province to get career advice.

The High School learners were exposed to various career opportunities. They believe the Expo will help them make right choices with their careers.

One learner says, “We are here to experience everything that people are doing and we are going to be successful. We want to go forward and make our dreams come true.”

Another says, “I am hoping to be well informed about the career choices that I have already made and to seek guidance so that I will be well informed when I finish Matric.”

“I want to become a teacher one day. This Career Expo has given me the confidence to do better in my studies. It has motivated me to push myself and to find out more about the teaching profession. I want to make a difference in people’s lives so I look forward to a bright future,” says a third learner.

Deputy President, Ramaphosa has urged learners to take every opportunity the government  is presenting to them.

He says learners should also love their subjects at school in order for them to succeed.

“We are investing a lot of money in your education. If you look at our budget today most of the money that we are spending on percentage basis goes to education. We doing this because we are determined to invest in your education we are determined to invest in you.”

Gauteng’s MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, says his department is doing everything  in its power to support and develop learners in the province.

He has committed to providing financial support to top achievers of each school.

“Every learner who occupies position one, position two, position three in every school – that particular learner will be given a bursary for four years at the university of their choice. We need to reward our young heroes we need to give them opportunities and we need to ensure that they get educated.”

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Source: sabc

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