Saturday, July 3, 2010

SSP Helps Educate Tomorrow’s Leaders

The vision of Student Sponsorship Programme (SSP) is "Leaders for South Africa". To build leaders, potential must be identified early and nurtured holistically. This is the role of SSP. SSP makes it possible for academically distinguished, low-income students to flourish through attending South Africa's top high schools.

Education in SA and the Apartheid Legacy

Africa’s greatest need is for strong leadership. The SSP believes that leaders are cultivated from a young age. However, youths with the basic ingredients of intelligence and drive will become leaders only if they receive a solid education.

A world-class Governmental schooling system existed in the ‘old’ South Africa, but for the privileged few. Terrible backlogs were left by 40 years of apartheid education, where money was pumped into white education at the expense of black schools in the townships and rural areas. Although today's government is intent on rectifying the imbalances in education, the apartheid legacy lingers on. 30% of black adults (over 15 years of age) are functionally illiterate, and only 14% have a high school or higher education.

With the limited funds Governmental funds available, a good education has still become the privilege of the few, but this time for those that can afford it. The majority of Government schools operate on a shoe string budget with minimal facilities at best. Most schools in the townships and in rural areas struggle for resources as a result. Teachers are poorly trained, and the matric pass rate remains unacceptably low. Rebuilding the educational environment and retraining teachers is a slow and difficult process.

The Private schools, afforded by the elite, attract the best teachers, and offer world class facilities and a range of extra mural activities, ingredients critical to developing a well rounded individual. The private schools chart a path of excellence, adopting cutting-edge trends, or offering solid, religious-based education since their early origins as mission schools. The private schools cater for about two percent of the country's 12 million learners, and the majority of these are white.

Deracialisation of our schooling system has thus become a priority for Government and Educators alike; this term alludes to the concerted effort to undo the prejudices in our country, and to break down the rigid racial compartments that were institutionalized in the education system by the apartheid regime. The SSP programme has become an essential tool to assist the Private Schools in this regard.

The SSP Vision

To provide academically distinguished, low income South African high school students an opportunity to excel at South Africa's best high schools.

Our Goal

To ensure that our students graduate, receive college acceptable grades, and go on to college or other tertiary education.

The Programme

The SSP Programme finances five years of high school education at one of Johannesburg's top secondary schools. Our students are recruited from primary schools across the province. Students who are currently in grade seven participate in our recruitment process, which includes an entrance exam as well as various interviews. The main criteria for acceptance into the programme includes academic excellence and financial need. The SSP selection is purposely rigorous to prepare students to face the academic challenges of our selective partner schools – SSP accepts the top two to four percent of all applicants. The majority of students selected into the programme come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. Their parents typically work as domestic servants, clerical workers, or are unemployed. The students live in the townships around Johannesburg, such as Soweto and Alexandra.

SSP offers a comprehensive support system, which includes the following elements:

· A mentor for each student. SSP organizes four events per year to encourage the students and mentors to build a relationship;

· Extra lessons for the students;

· Student Workshops around pertinent issues such as time management, study skills and life skills;

· Counseling for both students and parents on an as-needed basis;

· An intensive four-day orientation for the students;

· A peer group with other SSP students;

· An orientation for their parents;

· A parent-to-parent host programme and a Parents’ Forum;

· Career guidance; and

· Counseling for more serious adjustment issues.

SSP also ensures that every high school student has both the guidance and the financial resources to attend university. Our comprehensive database allows students to search for scholarships using a wide range of criteria, including geography, intended major at university, scholarships available to children of certain employers etc. As SSP students have demonstrated exceptional academic performance at Johannesburg's best secondary schools, several universities have expressed interest in recruiting SSP students specifically. SSP employees have been working with the universities to develop special financial aid packages targeted for SSP students.

Our Partner Schools

SSP has developed partnerships with some of the top high schools in Johannesburg. We carefully select our partner schools based on the following criteria:

· Graduation and university placement rates

· Overall academic excellence and opportunities for learning experiences

· Support from the school's governing body, headmaster/headmistress

· Ability to send a critical mass to the school per year

· Commitment from the school to accept a critical mass each year over five years

· Appointment of an SSP school coordinator.

SSP currently has partnerships with St. John’s College, St. Mary’s School, St. Stithian’s School, Roedean School, Redhill School, St. Martin’s, Parktown Girls High School, McAuley House, American International School of Johannesburg

Results to date

Our data collection effort reveals the following:

· Over 70% of SSP students’ outperform the grade average of their peers in their respective high schools and a large number of our students consistently receive academic distinctions.

· SSP students take on significant leadership roles in their schools, including student government, international exchange programs, the arts and athletics. The Head Boys of St Johns College and Redhill, and the Head Girl at McAuley House are all SSP students this year.

· We held our very first graduation ceremony of the inaugural SSP class on 4 December 2004. 100% of the graduates have gone onto tertiary education. Of our second class, 75% have gone into tertiary education immediately, with some taking a gap year.

· Our programme is growing very fast. We started with 25 students in 2000, and have grown at triple digit rates since 2000. There are currently 204 students in the programme with a total of 57 graduates..

Financial Credibility

SSP is a registered Public Benefit Organization in South Africa and a 501(c)(3) organization in the USA. SSP is audited by KPMG annually. The three SSP Trustees, Teresa Clarke, Nyagaka Ongeri and Heather Cooper, are signatories on the bank account, and hold monthly finance meetings at which we review our cash positions. Detailed financial information can be provided in our Audited Financials and our Annual Budget.

Cost of the Programme

Our funding model offers corporations the opportunity to fund a number of students throughout their high school career. The total average cost of educating one student per year is R43,683 or $5,800 for the academic year 2006. The dollar rate is based on a current exchange rate of R7.50.

Sponsorship is for the student’s full five years of high school. This contribution amount can be broken into the following categories: 89% to school expenses (school fees and student stipend), 7% to student support expenses (extra lessons, orientations, etc.), 3% to general administration, and 1% to student recruitment expenses.

SSP Patrons

· Shirley Arnold – Ernst & Young

· John Coulter – Brait

· Ronald Gault – JP Morgan

· Adam Horowitz – Merill Lynch

· Michael Katz – Edward Nathan & Friedland

· Vusi Khanyile – Thebe Investments

· Wendy Luhabe – Wendy Luhabe Foundation

· Felicia Suttle – South African Tourism

· Max Maisela – NBC Holdings

· Moeletsi Mbeki – Endemol Productions SA

· Louisa Mojela – WIPHOLD

· Neil Morrison – Duetsche Bank

· Donna Oosthuyse - Citigroup


South Africa’s top business, governmental and NGO organizations support SSP. These supporters include the following organizations: Abt Associates, Anglo American, Babcock, Bowman Gilfillian, Brait Foundation, Cazenove, Citigroup, Colley Educational Trust, Deloitte & Touche, Derek FitzRoy du Toit Memorial, Deutsche Bank, Development Bank of SA, Educational Development Trust, Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, Ernst & Young, Ethos, Honorable Kader Asmal, Gold Reef City, Goldman Sachs, Harvard Business School Club of South Africa, Infrastructure Finance Corporation Ltd, Investec Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Kelvin Power, Merrill Lynch Smith Borkum, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Nedbank, Negotiated Benefit Consultants Holdings, Raith Foundation, Rand Merchant Bank, Sphere Holdings, Standard Bank Foundation, Starr Foundation, Standard Corporate and Investment Banking, White & Case.

In addition to our supporters in South Africa, SSP also receives support from organizations and individuals in the USA and the UK.

SSP Trustees

Teresa Clarke - Vice President, Goldman Sachs.

Former Managing Director of Abt Associates South Africa, an international consulting firm headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA. Ms. Clarke also served on the Board of the Student Sponsorship Partnership in New York for several years and chaired the New Sponsorship Recruitment Committee. Ms Clarke currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Harvard University Episcopal Chaplaincy. She holds a BA in Economics cum laude from Harvard College, an MBA from Harvard Business School and a JD from Harvard Law School.

Nyagaka Ongeri - Director, Barclays Capital. Former Vice President, J.P. Morgan, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Prior to joining J.P. Morgan, he worked on the Debt Capital Markets Desk of Merrill Lynch in New York for four years. Mr. Ongeri holds a BA in finance, summa cum laude, from Howard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Heather Cooper - Executive Director

Prior to joining the Student Sponsorship Programme, Ms. Cooper worked as a consultant for Standard Bank (Strategy and Architecture), an analyst for Abt Associates, an analyst for the US-South Africa Business Council as well as an accounts manager for Procter & Gamble. Ms. Cooper holds a BA from Hamilton College, and an MA from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.