26 April 2022
South Africa’s Bill of Rights enshrines the rights of people in the country and affirms the values of human dignity, equality and freedom. Among these rights are those to basic and further education, children’s rights like protection from neglect or abuse, and the right to freely choose one’s trade, occupation or profession. These intersecting areas of education and livelihood development, as well as the protection and fulfilment of children’s rights to improve learning outcomes, are the focal areas of the work of Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation.
The Foundation believes that addressing inequalities in access to quality education, and advancing economic participation through supporting small businesses, are the most direct of means to improve the quality of life for South Africa’s people.
The Bill of Rights provides for the progressive realisation of socio-economic rights, subject to reasonable and justifiable limitations and available resources. In recognition of these limitations, the Constituion of South Africa creates an environment for nongovernmental bodies to play a role in supporting society realise the full benefits of its hard-earned freedom.
Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, an independent public benefit organisation, partners with the corporate sector, Government and nongovernmental organisations to advance its mission to foster an inclusive society through its programmes. These programmes are implemented by its partner entities.
Adopt-a-School Foundation implements a Whole School Development Model that aims at improving the governance, academic, infrastructural and social environment in schools. It also pilots the Foundation’s Thari programme, which addresses women and child abuse.
KST is a collaboration between Kagiso Trust and Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation that leverages the strategic, technical and best practices of each organisation’s Whole School Development programmes for application at a district level.
Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust (CRET) is a holistic bursary support and youth development programme.
Black Umbrellas implements an incubation programme to develop small Black businesses.
Non-governmental and other organisations play an important role in expanding and deepening the indices of our freedom.
Rotondwa Mulaudzi, a final year architecture student at WITS and a beneficiary of CRET, feels that attending university “is more of a privilege than a right”.
The cost of tertiary education is a barrier to entry for the majority of South Africa’s youth and, it’s impossible to overlook the inequality between the public education system and private schooling.
“Learners from underfunded, under-resourced schools are expected to compete for the same place in university as those with every form of support and resource in a private school,” Rotondwa says.
Rotondwa shares that many of her university peers matriculate and discover a harsh truth: “Teenagers are told they have a right to higher education and encouraged to study further, but who is helping them realise that right? For many, the answer is no one,” she says.
Adopt-a-School’s Whole School Development Model however makes a significant difference to the schooling experience, resulting in consistently improved matriculation results for higher education.
Were it not for CRET’s support, Rotondwa, part of the “missing middle” – “too rich for funding but too poor for university”, would too have been denied her right to further education.
Many other factors mitigate the fulfilment of this right, resulting in high drop-out rates. CRET addresses these with a holistic offering, including psychosocial support.
Tshepo Thulo and Moeketsi Labona are Child and Youth Care Workers with the Foundation’s Thari Programme. Both noted that children’s rights are better protected when the adults around them are better equipped. Parents work long hours with no support structure to care for the child in their absence, they say. Teachers know of children’s home situations, but don’t know how to intervene or who to contact to get assistance. They report that an immediate improvement is visible once Thari and its systems are able to help both the children and their parents with the support of the school community. As more families see the benefit of Thari’s help, they reach out to the school or the Care Workers and, in so doing, get the assistance to ensure that children’s rights are properly fulfilled.
The Thari programme, being piloted in Botshabelo in the Free State and in Diepsloot in Gauteng, involves government departments, school communities, civil society organisations and other stakeholders at a local school community level to ensure children can enjoy their right to protection from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.
The Bill of Rights also declares that every citizen has the right to choose their trade, occupation or profession freely. That choice might not seem so free when jobs are scarce and people have to do what they can to survive. But for some like Jolene Young, choosing the entrepreneurship route is the greatest form of exercising the right to choose a form of living, which Black Umbrellas facilitates. Black Umbrellas is an incubator programme for 100% Black-owned small businesses. It provides training, business development guidance and mentoring to connect entrepreneurs with finance and market opportunities to thrive.
Joline Young is what many people would call a “solopreneur”. A deeply knowledgeable heritage consultant, Joline understands the injustices of South Africa’s past and continues to hope for a better future. Black Umbrellas has helped Joline structure her skills and service into an economically viable entity, but she says “so many” doors are closed to entrepreneurs despite the messages encouraging South Africans to start their own businesses.
From Joline’s perspective, the right to trade is dependent on many factors including education, small business support via funding and training, as well as lowering the bureaucratic barriers that can prevent small businesses seeking trade partnerships with larger organisations, Government and remaining tax compliant.
“It’s so many hoops to jump through to fulfil a basic right,” she feels.
Partnership is a fundamental pillar of social development success. Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation and its partner entities build productive partnerships with business and relevant government entities among others to achieve shared goals and deepen the freedoms and rights specifically of learners, youth and entrepreneurs.