The word "sikhona" came to me in a dream...
And I admit that not being fluent in the isiZulu language I had to Google its meaning.
Sikhona is used in response to the traditional isiZulu greeting of Sawubona (I see you), and can be translated as Because you see me, then I am here.
What a powerful existential affirmation in response to being seen or being acknowledged.
All too often we fail to really see those around us, to recognise them as individuals with unique talents and specific needs. And as a result this true potential more often than not goes undeveloped, untapped.
Within an 80km radius of Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu Natal you will find arguably the largest concentration of premium schools in South Africa, both private schools and state. Many of these schools rank amongst the most expensive educational institutions in their relevant categories.
But they are also some of the most well-resourced schools from an academic perspective. They have strong academic and co-curricular programs, supported by well trained and well resourced educators and staff. They consistently achieve exceptional academic results and pass rates and many, if not most, have successful learner support programs in place. All have strong alumni networks with impressive economic reach and enviable access to support opportunities for graduating alumni. Historically they have demonstrated good access to donor funding.
They also share their geographic footprint with some of the poorest settlements and communities in the province.
The disparity in the educational environment, the academic and personal development opportunities and the outlook for tertiary study and career prospects between these schools and lesser resourced schools in poorer communities is quantifiable.
the access to education challenge
Local and national government, through their education departments, continue to struggle to meet their constitutional and social obligation of providing access to education at primary, secondary and tertiary level.
While this continues, countless young learners who have the potential to excel academically given the right environment, are deprived of this opportunity. Their futures are negatively impacted as a result.
Many of the premium schools within this region have longstanding fundraising programs in place. In addition, many have established foundations and trusts whose primary focus is to generate external funding for the benefit of these schools. External funding provides schools with the ability to offer financial aid to deserving learners.
Unfortunately, various factors influence the allocation of this funding for bursaries and financial aid, namely:
– External funding is also applied to operational / development costs, thereby further limiting the available funding for financial aid;
– In many cases financial support offered will include sport and cultural scholarships, particularly given the inclination of many schools to focus on their sporting programs and competitive achievements. This means less resources available for academic or needs-based bursaries;
– Very few primary schools have the capacity / resources to offer financial aid thereby limiting access to the foundation phase education stream;
– Institutions largely operate in isolation and with a short-term focus when it comes to allocating financial support. When the learner graduates from the institution in question he or she is very often left to navigate the next phase of their education on their own
The sikhona vision
Our vision is to play our part in solving these existing challenges of bursaries and financial aid through a new funding methodology.