SIOC-CDT was established in 2006 by Sishen Iron Ore Company (SIOC) (Pty) Ltd to invest in the uplifting of the communities in which the mining company operates in the Northern Cape and Limpopo. Key to these efforts is a strong focus on education and skills development. “Section 29 of the South African Constitution enshrines the right to education,” says Vusani Malie, CEO, SIOC-CDT. “We are committed to ensuring this, not only because it is every learner’s right but also as education is vital to ensuring sustainable and productive lives.”
This has seen the roll out, by SIOC-CDT, of various education (pre- and post-Matric) initiatives. The goal – to assist and empower learners across its beneficiary communities with the tools and resources needed to ensure as strong a result as possible and, with that, the opening of opportunities perhaps otherwise not possible.
At a pre-Matric level, SIOC-CDT supported its beneficiary schools with supplementary classes focused on those areas displaying the greatest need – Mathematics, Physical Science, Life Sciences, Agricultural Science and Geography. “We were gratified to note a significant increase in marks, particularly in the areas of Mathematics and Physical Science,” says Malie. Further, of the 3,507 learners across its beneficiary communities who sat for the 2021 NSC (matric) examinations – a total of 2,357 passes and 323 distinctions were achieved, with 931 learners obtaining access to Bachelors. There were also 10+ schools that achieved a pass rate of above 80%. “Despite a difficult two years, often fraught with many challenges for our learners, our Matric class of 2021 showed inspiring and encouraging results,” continues Malie. According to the Post-School Education and Training Monitor – Macro-Indicator Trends1 report released in March 2021 by the Higher Education Department, only 6% of the South African population have university degrees. A further 6% had diplomas and 3.4% held technical and vocational education and training (TVET) certificates. The Department claims that: “The low number of citizens with degrees compromised the country’s economic competitiveness.”
To counter this prevalent trend, SIOC-CDT has two programmes that provide assistance for learners requiring additional support post-Matric, These are the ‘SciMathUS’ and ‘Access for Success’ programmes. Both programmes provide a second opportunity for educationally disadvantaged learners to be accepted to higher education studies in Mathematics, Science and other STEM-related areas.
The ‘Access for Success’ programme was launched in 2022 as a University of Technology preparation programme with Mathematics and Physical Sciences as target subjects; supporting learners from the SIOC-CDT beneficiary communities to gain access to a University of Technology. ‘Access for Success’ has as its academic goals the remediation and improvement of student content knowledge in Mathematics and Physical Sciences, the provision of foundational skills and the increase in student retention that will, ultimately, see an increase in the graduation rate. It enables participating students to improve their NSC marks to qualify for admission to a university of technology (already endorsed by Cape Peninsula University of Technology that will provide offtake for the successful learners). Further, similarly to the SciMathUS programme, it also provides mentoring and psycho-social support to bridge the gap between school and university and prepare them for study success as well as career guidance.
Created to augment the existing bursary and SciMathUS initiatives, this new programme sees no fewer than 50 learners receiving access to post-school STEM education and training opportunities this year.
The year-long SciMathUS programme (developed by the University of Stellenbosch) allows students to improve their NSC marks that, in turn, allows them to be able to reapply for admission into higher education institutions. It also provides academic literacy support, mentoring and psychosocial support to help bridge the gap between school and university – ultimately preparing them for study success.
SIOC-CDT’s involvement in the SciMathUS programme over the last few years has reaped great rewards. In 2020, all 21 students who participated improved their physical science and mathematics results and qualified for STEM-related programmes in higher education. More recent results have been as inspiring. Twenty-five students from the beneficiary communities took part in the 2021 SciMathUS programme with results seeing an increase, on average, from 58.7% (Physical Science end 2020) to 72.6% (Physical Science end 2021, post SciMathUS) and from 54.6% (Mathematics end 2020) to 69.3% (Mathematics end 2021, post SciMathUS). In addition, three learners placed in the overall ‘top 10’ for Mathematics and one learner for Physical Science.
Over the past years, SIOC-CDT has also funded more than 500 students to access higher education in its various beneficiary communities via bursaries.
- The current total number of students supported by bursaries for the 2022 academic year are 178, enrolled at various public higher learning institutions.
- The 2022 bursary cohort consists of 80 successful candidates out of the 116 applications that met minimum requirements.
The diversity of the chosen fields of study this year is tremendous, with bursaries awarded for qualifications such as a BA in Ancient Language, Advanced Diploma in Entrepreneurship, a B.Sc. Actuarial Science and many more.
The bursary project programme has been designed to empower financially disadvantaged youth from the SIOC-CDT beneficiary communities by providing them with the opportunity to obtain a qualification at a higher education institution (HEI). The bursary beneficiaries are also provided with financial and psycho-social support to unlock and maximise their potential, enabling them to complete their qualification.
“We are committed to working with as many stakeholders as needed, in conjunction with our own initiatives. Our goal – to ensure well-rounded supplementary education programmes to support learners across our beneficiary communities and to help unlock life changing opportunities,” concludes Malie.
SIOC Community Development Trust (SIOC-CDT) was established in 2006 by Sishen Iron Ore Company (SIOC) (Pty) Ltd to invest in the uplifting of the communities in which the mining company operates in the Northern Cape and Limpopo. We invest significantly in community development projects aimed at ensuring sustainability beyond mining operations.
SIOC-CDT has substantiated its stated intention of “defining ourselves through actions, not our words” by investing over R1 billion in socio-economic and community development projects in its beneficiary communities; Gamagara, Tsantsabane, Ga-Segonyana and Joe Morolong in the Northern Cape, as well as Thabazimbi in Limpopo