Companies shows interest in basic education

South African corporations are pouring money into basic education as part of their corporate social responsibilities but there is a need for better alignment and collaboration to improve efficiencies.

This can be interpreted from two studies on basic education related CSI commissioned by the National Business Initiative.

In a statement released yesterday the NBI said these studies found that more than half of the participating companies and corporate foundations reported a spend of R2 million or more in support of education in the 2010/11 financial year and almost half spent most (76% to 100%) of their education expenditure on schools.

Amongst the large companies and corporate foundations, support is relatively high for secondary schools (78%), followed by primary schools (72%), and preschools (65%), with scope to increase support for this essential phase of education. The three most common school processes that large companies and corporate foundations support financially are: learner support programmes, teacher professional development and the provision of equipment. The mix of processes supported suggests that large businesses are concerned both with strengthening the quality of education and ensuring schools have basic equipment and infrastructure.

Findings show in general, levels of support for better performing schools were higher than levels of support for schools that perform less well. Further investigation is required to understand the drivers of this trend.

The NBI said it commissioned the studies to further galvanise support and practical effort towards the goals of the NBI’s Learning Partnership Network and to examine how the business spend in education could achieve greater impact through better alignment, collaboration and collective approaches.

The first NBI survey, conducted by Helene Perold and Associates between December 2011 and February 2012 was intended to broaden the focus beyond big business to include small and medium-sized businesses as well as trusts and foundations, and to determine the extent and form of corporate investment in basic education in South Africa. The second updated survey completed recently was intended to supplement the sample and provide more information than is presently available about how large companies focus their spending on public schooling.

The NBI embarked on a Learning Partnership Network journey in 2010. NBI CEO Joanne Yawitch, CEO said “The Learning Partnership Network, with Sanlam as leader and founder funder, is geared towards enhancing the collective impact of private sector investment in schooling. It strives to provide leverage to companies to build on existing successful action or initiate new interventions where appropriate. It focuses on strengthening the relationship between the private sector, government and other partners towards the common objective of improving the quality of education in South Africa.”

Sanlam Group’s acting executive head of corporate affairs Lebo Monyatsi said “The Sanlam Foundation, which has identified education as a key strategic focus area, is proud to be the founding sponsor of the NBI Learning Partnership, which has made the study possible”.

“We believe it is our collective efforts as corporates, government, NGOs and other stakeholders that will achieve the most significant impact in the improved quality of education and the long term sustainability of the South African society. We look forward to the outcomes of the contributions from the various stakeholders who are participating in the dialogue this week and we hope this will inform, among others, how we can collaborate for more positive results,” Monyatsi said.

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