The Star Early Edition

Star Schools gives pupils an­other chance

Hun­dreds have ben­e­fited from ex­tra tu­ition

- AWANDE DLAMINI

STAR Schools is widely renowned for the hun­dreds of lives it has changed through the var­i­ous ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes it of­fers.

What is not so well known, how­ever, is that the com­pany owes its name to a re­la­tion­ship forged with The Star news­pa­per dur­ing the early 1980s.

It was at this time that two men, one an English lan­guage spe­cial­ist and the other a sci­en­tist, re­alised the fi­nan­cial po­ten­tial of pre­sent­ing ex­tra lessons in English and science to groups of pupils, rather than in­di­vid­u­als.

The lan­guage spe­cial­ist was Jac­ques Shell­shop, while the sci­en­tist was none other than Wil­liam Smith, who went on to be­come the coun­try’s most well-known tele­vi­sion science and math­e­mat­ics teacher.

The classes proved to be so suc­cess­ful that Shell­shop and Smith were soon joined by a maths teacher and, later, bi­ol­ogy, his­tory and ge­og­ra­phy teach­ers.

It wasn’t long be­fore the classes had evolved into a Satur­day morn­ing pro­gramme, aimed at pre­par­ing ma­tric pupils for their fi­nal ex­ams.

In the early 1970s, the classes moved to the Wit­wa­ter­srand Univer­sity cam­pus and over the years the pro­gramme came to be known as the Satur­day School.

This was soon fol­lowed by an­other pro­gramme, the Win­ter School.

Most of the found­ing mem­bers even­tu­ally moved on to other oc­cu­pa­tions, but Smith de­cided to turn the school into a for­mal busi­ness.

“The Star Schools” was reg­is­tered as a pri­vate com­pany, the name be­ing gen­er­ated from a re­la­tion­ship with The Star news­pa­per, which owned a 50% eq­uity in the new or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Bring­ing hope to matrics

Dur­ing the po­lit­i­cal un­rest of 1986, Aggrey Klaaste, then ed­i­tor of The Sowe­tan, con­ceived the idea of a re­write school to as­sist pupils who had lost out be­cause of the ex­am­i­na­tion boy­cott of that year.

He ap­proached Smith, who agreed to take it on.

Other re­write pro­grammes in ex­is­tence at the time were per­mit­ted to reg­is­ter pupils for the sup­ple­men­tary ex­ams, usu­ally writ­ten in March. Smith ad­vo­cated, how­ever, that three months was not enough time to teach pupils who had lost out on an en­tire year of study.

Fol­low­ing in­ter­ven­tion by Klaaste, the then min­is­ters of fi­nance and ed­u­ca­tion sanc­tioned pupils who reg­is­tered for the Star Schools Ma­tric Re­write Pro­gramme to write their fi­nal ex­ams at the end of the year, ef­fec­tively giv­ing them the en­tire aca­demic year for tu­ition.

Ad­di­tion­ally, it was also de­cided that on pass­ing the fi­nal exam, the pupils’ state­ment of sym­bols and ma­tric cer­tifi­cate would be amended to re­flect the new re­sults.

Around 950 pupils reg­is­tered to re­ceive weekly tu­ition in the sub­jects for which they reg­is­tered. Classes were held at the Wit­wa­ter­srand Univer­sity cam­pus, and the first Star Schools Ma­tric Re­write ex­ams took place at the end of 1987. The pupils achieved an av­er­age pass rate of about 72%.

Dur­ing the early 1990s The Star sold its shares in the com­pany and agreed that the name could be changed to Star Schools. Smith left the com­pany in 1994 and Roger Briggs be­came CEO. He cur­rently serves as chair­man of the com­pany’s board of direc­tors.

To­day Star Schools’ Ma­tric Re­write Pro­gramme is ac­knowl­edged as one of the big­gest and most suc­cess­ful in the coun­try, yield­ing an av­er­age an­nual pass rate of around 78%. Many pupils who qual­i­fied for ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion af­ter suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing the Ma­tric Re­write Pro­gramme have gone on to be­come en­gi­neers, lawyers, ac­coun­tants and doctors. Oth­ers are com­pany sec­re­taries and CEOs.

Star Schools’ managing di­rec­tor, Ha­roon Mo­talib, is also among the alumni. “I at­tended the Satur­day School in 1989 and 1990 and found Wil­liam Smith’s ‘is­land sys­tem’ to be par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial in un­der­stand­ing phys­i­cal science,” he re­calls.

“We would love to hear from any­one who has suc­cess­fully com­pleted one of our pro­grammes over the years,” he adds.

“Tell us how Star Schools helped to shape your ca­reer. Your sto­ries play an in­te­gral role in mo­ti­vat­ing other learn­ers to change their fu­ture.”

Mak­ing a dif­fer­ence

“Grade 10, 11 and 12 learn­ers are ex­posed to high-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als and in­struc­tion in English, math­e­mat­ics and phys­i­cal science, thus en­abling them to pass their ex­am­i­na­tions at lev­els with which they can fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion at a ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion,” Mo­talib ex­plains.

“The pro­gramme is geared to di­rect­ing learn­ers on an in­tended ca­reer path such as en­gi­neer­ing, IT or fi­nan­cial ser­vices. Ca­reer guid­ance in­struc­tion is also pro­vided.

“Be­cause learn­ers are matched to the skills pro­file of the spon­sor or­gan­i­sa­tion, the pro­gramme es­sen­tially de­vel­ops fu­ture em­ploy­ees who meet the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s spe­cific busi­ness re­quire­ments,” he con­tin­ues.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, tal­ent pipe­lines are cre­ated in that learn­ers can feed into the spon­sor or­gan­i­sa­tion’s bur­sary scheme, thus ad­dress­ing com­mu­nity needs for in­di­vid­ual devel­op­ment.

“This holistic strat­egy aims to pro­duce well-rounded in­di­vid­u­als who are pre­pared for the emo­tional and in­tel­lec­tual ad­just­ment needed to study and suc­ceed at a ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion.”

That the pro­gramme is ac­tively con­tribut­ing to­wards chang­ing ed­u­ca­tion lev­els can­not be dis­puted, Mo­talib de­clares.

“One of our pro­grammes, based in the Nko­mazi Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, has been run­ning for 11 years. Since its in­cep­tion, more than 500 spon­sored learn­ers have ma­tric­u­lated, achiev­ing a col­lec­tive pass rate of 99%.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, no fewer than 98% have gained ac­cess into ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions. Of these, 470 qual­i­fied for univer­sity en­try, while an ad­di­tional 20 learn­ers qual­i­fied for di­ploma cour­ses.”

Star Schools’ cal­cu­la­tion on the re­turn on the spon­sor com­pany’s R8.6 mil­lion in­vest­ment over the 11-year pe­riod re­veals that once qual­i­fied, 46% of the alumni are con­tribut­ing ap­prox­i­mately R76m per year to the econ­omy.

“As­sum­ing that each per­son is gain­fully em­ployed for 30 years, we can com­fort­ably de­duce that the in­vest­ment in the youth of Nko­mazi will re­turn just over R2.2 billion to the lo­cal and South African econ­omy,” says Mo­talib. “Fur­ther­more, if the as­sump­tion is made that 15% of the alumni who could not be found are work­ing in sim­i­lar pro­fes­sions, an ad­di­tional R11m per an­num can be added to the above fig­ure.

“This project is but one ex­am­ple of how our In­cu­ba­tor Pro­gramme has pos­i­tively im­pacted Grade 12 and ter­tiary at­tain­ments in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, and pro­duced some of the top learn­ers in the prov­ince.”

Star Schools cur­rently runs In­cu­ba­tor Pro­grammes at no fewer than 24 cen­tres across the coun­try, in­clud­ing Viljoen­skroon (Free State), Win­ter­veldt (Gaut­eng), Male­lane (Mpumalanga) and Bath­laros (North­ern Cape).

En­hanc­ing maths skills

Closely aligned to Star Schools’ In­cu­ba­tor Pro­gramme is its Grade 9 Maths Pro­gramme, which seeks to en­hance learner con­fi­dence in math­e­mat­ics.

“Com­pa­nies spon­sor ex­tra tu­ition to Grade 9 learn­ers, hop­ing to im­prove their foun­da­tion skills in maths, thus con­vinc­ing them to choose the sub­ject in the Fur­ther Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing (FET) phase (Grade 10-12) of their school­ing,” Mo­talib ex­plains.

“The long-term ob­jec­tive is to en­cour­age more learn­ers to enter study fields such as en­gi­neer­ing, where math­e­mat­ics is a re­quire­ment for study at in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing.”

Held over nine weeks, the pro­gramme con­sists of 25 hours of in­ten­sive tu­ition. Hand­outs ex­plain­ing the con­tent are pro­vided to all learn­ers, and ed­u­ca­tors sup­ple­ment these with ad­di­tional notes, where nec­es­sary. Ad­di­tion­ally, nu­mer­ous class tasks en­able ed­u­ca­tors to im­ple­ment im­me­di­ate cor­rec­tive ac­tion, as needed.

Ac­cord­ing to Mo­talib, a re­cent grad­u­ate of the pro­gramme saw her maths marks im­prove by a stag­ger­ing 49%, while 30 other pupils showed an achieve­ment in­crease above 30% be­tween the June and De­cem­ber ex­ams.

It’s never too late to get your ma­tric

Star Schools’ new­est of­fer­ing is the Amended Se­nior Cer­tifi­cate (ASC) Pro­gramme, which en­ables adults who did not com­plete their high school ed­u­ca­tion, or failed their ma­tric ex­am­i­na­tion, to ob­tain their school leav­ing cer­tifi­cate and thus fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion if they so choose.

“We in­tro­duced this pro­gramme specif­i­cally for those who do not qual­ify for the Ma­tric Re­write Pro­gramme for some rea­son, but wish to com­plete or im­prove their ma­tric,” says Mo­talib.

He points out that al­though the ASC cur­rently does not al­low can­di­dates to ob­tain univer­sity en­dorse­ment, they may apply for age ex­emp­tion as an in­terim mea­sure un­til the univer­sity ad­mis­sion re­quire­ments are ap­proved by the Department of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing.

Can­di­dates who reg­is­ter with Star Schools to write the ASC ex­am­i­na­tion re­ceive study ma­te­rial (work books, past ex­am­i­na­tion pa­pers and English set works), as well as e-mail tu­to­rial as­sis­tance from Star Schools ed­u­ca­tors.

“Star Schools has come a long way since the Satur­day classes of the 1960s, but through­out our ex­is­tence, we have re­mained com­mit­ted to our core pur­pose, which is to equip learn­ers for life by help­ing them reach their true po­ten­tial,” says Mo­talib.

“By em­pow­er­ing learn­ers through the pro­vi­sion of world-class ed­u­ca­tion we are help­ing them to take the first, yet ar­guably, most im­por­tant step on their jour­ney to­wards suc­cess,” he con­cludes.

The Pro­gramme has pro­duced some of the top learn­ers in the prov­ince ‘(Our aim is) to equip learn­ers for life by help­ing them reach their full po­ten­tial’

 ??  ?? FU­TURE-DRIVER: Star Schools’ Ma­tric Re­write Pro­gramme is ac­knowl­edged as one of the big­gest and most suc­cess­ful in the coun­try, yield­ing an av­er­age an­nual pass rate of around 78%.
FU­TURE-DRIVER: Star Schools’ Ma­tric Re­write Pro­gramme is ac­knowl­edged as one of the big­gest and most suc­cess­ful in the coun­try, yield­ing an av­er­age an­nual pass rate of around 78%.
 ??  ?? READY AND WILL­ING: Pupils on the spon­sored Grade 9 Maths Pro­gramme are highly mo­ti­vated and eager to learn.
READY AND WILL­ING: Pupils on the spon­sored Grade 9 Maths Pro­gramme are highly mo­ti­vated and eager to learn.

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