Gloria Lekalakala and Kelebogile Sibanda work at De Beers’ Venetia Mine in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Outside the mine, much of their free time is devoted to the neighbouring Musina High School, where they are dedicated to motivating the students and working with teachers to expose these young students to life-enhancing culture and sport.
“Some of these kids live under very challenging conditions at home,” Gloria explains. “It's very easy for somebody not to do as well as they could do, because they don’t see where it's going to get them.”
Deeply committed to this work, the duo meet with teaching staff weekly and have created a trust in the school’s name to raise funds. Debating competitions and an academic excellence ceremony are among the initiatives they have created to improve the education of the students.
Karen, one of the students whom Gloria mentors, has been studying at the school and in less than a year won an award as one of the school’s top-ten achievers. She has ambitions to become a mechanical engineer. Gloria acts as Karen’s mentor, and assists her with application forms for university and funding to help make this ambition a reality.
Karen has also enrolled with the Khula Weekend School, another initiative supported by De Beers. Khula aims to increase the number of students who qualify for university admission by improving their results in mathematics and physical sciences. The programme currently supports 832 students, of which 65% are girls.
Karen takes additional classes on Saturdays with Khula. After university, she would like to work in a mine and has dreams of travelling to other countries and learning more languages.
De Beers also helps build schools in Limpopo. Through the Rural School Development Programme, De Beers has constructed 11 schools in the province already, improving the education of thousands of local children.
One such example is the construction of several buildings at St Martin de Porres PrimarySchool in Limpopo, including 12 new classrooms for the school’s 1,000 students, an administration block and a new kitchen.
Vincent Minanzi, Director of St Martin de Porres Primary School, says: “Not long ago, we only had four classrooms; we were teaching under a tree in the courtyard. It is very important to educate the new generation. They will have better opportunities to move from a poor background to where they are able to achieve something for themselves and change their life through education.”
The De Beers Financial Assistance Programme also offers scholarships to academically deserving students. In 2017, De Beers also supported Ratanang Special School in Limpopo, one of only a few schools in the province that caters for students with learning difficulties.
In addition, De Beers funds the Mathematics Leadership Academy, an NGO that helps students with their homework and offers extra classes, and the Teacher Subvention Programme, which has provided 27 extra mathematics and science teachers for three schools.
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