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.

This concept blends so wonderfully with our belief to really see and to recognise those we support as individuals with unique talents and specific needs.
 
The Sikhona Foundation was officially registered as a Non-Profit Company in March 2021, and as the new kid on the block what we lack in organisational history we certainly make up for in passion and experience.

Our environment

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

For young boys and girls who are recipients of financial support, this creates an unnecessary level of anxiety and uncertainty around their academic future. How can any support deliver its intended impact if it is applied with only short term outcomes in mind? 

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.

Our founding board of directors is comprised of parents, educators, professionals, fundraisers and social entrepreneurs who all share a common passion for making access to quality education possible for boys and girls from challenging backgrounds within KwaZulu Natal.

One of the aspects that makes our board unique is that many of our directors come from challenging backgrounds too and were recipients of financial support themselves.
 
Their personal experiences, along with the first hand knowledge of fundraising and bursary challenges within school environments, have helped formulate our vision: To do more to help boys and girls who display the character, drive and ability to succeed academically. To create access to these learning opportunities and to support and mentor them on this life-changing journey.
 
With your support, and in partnership with like-minded organisations, we can give young learners from poorer communities who are passionate about using education and learning to change their lives and improve their circumstances the opportunity, the funding and the support to do so.
 
In the very spirit of the word Sikhona we recognise these young boys and girls as individuals with unique talents and needs and aim to provide the support best suited to each beneficiary’s circumstances.
 
This support includes:
 
– Facilitating access to premium schools in KwaZulu Natal and providing the funding towards tuition;
 
– Making this a long-term commitment by ensuring that funding and support is available from Grade 4 right through to Grade 12;
 
– Providing funding and support for tertiary study or post-matric training;
 
– A support network that prioritises psycho-social support, mentorship, personal development and academic tutoring for every beneficiary.
 
As a solution we aim to provide financial support from primary school, through to high school and ultimately a tertiary qualification. Whilst funding is essential, the psycho-social support provided to all beneficiaries is the pivot around which the programme revolves. The academic and emotional support, the teaching of life-skills, the mentorship and the accumulating of social capital are as, if not more important than the funding.
 
The impact of this Sikhona initiative will not be measurable today or tomorrow. But rather years from now when the husbands and fathers, wives and mothers who have been educated, mentored and empowered through Sikhona are able to make a positive difference in their work environments, their families and their communities.
 
And they now invest the same learnings and values in the next generation.

our founding directors

Seko Buthelezi
Director
Grant Edkins
Director
Donovan Hornsby
Director
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Cedric Mkhize
Director
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Lunga Msimang
Director
Andrew Soden
Director
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Ngcebo Thembela
Director
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