SchoolTrade Adopt-a-School Programme

Introducing Life Orientation teachers to the local Chamber of Business




In July 2016 SchoolTrade and the Department of Basic Education (DoBE) in UMgungundlovu (KZN) proved the strength of PPPs (Public Private Partnerships).

The partnership collaborated to provide specialist training for 50x Life Orientation (LO) teachers in the district. What made the training especially significant is that most of the teachers represented 50 of the worst performing schools in the district. Learners from these schools are at higher than normal risk of academic failure and unemployment. As expected English second language skills in these schools tend to be weaker than amongst their more urban and ex-model C peers. Teachers from these schools are also likely to be at higher risk of low motivation, especially in the learning area of career guidance.

SchoolTrade is an educational agency based in KZN. We have developed a range of respected resources for classroom use in career guidance. Our aim is to improve the quality of career education amongst underprivileged schools.

Special Needs in Education Services (SNES) is a department within the DoBE and represented within all education districts in South Africa. One of the mandates of SNES is to improve the quality career education in schools. In UMgungundlovu district SNES is headed by Mrs Nonhle Zond and her team of education specialists. Mrs Zondi is a strong supporter of PPPs between the DoBE and local NPOs and agencies in the education sector.

The business community represented by the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB) was the third key partner in this intervention. The participation of local businesses in this intervention and the use of the PCB as a venue for the second day was one of the unique elements of this intervention. Those business represented in the inaugural training were: Barloworld, Midlands Community College, ITCA, Varsity College and Boston Business College. Apologies were submitted by a number of other businesses who asked to be included in the next such meeting.



DAYS 1 & 2

The intervention was conducted over two days and focussed on improving teachers’ ability to expose learners to local training and employment opportunities upon leaving school.

On the first day training focussed on a specific classroom skill, namely, teaching educators to create and maintain a careers resource centre using inexpensive resources, such as, magazines and newspapers.

On the second day LO educators were invited to participate in a `Conversation’ with members of the local Chamber of Business. The Conversation was aimed at creating partnerships between these two sectors: Businesses are often in need of specific work related skills in order to grow. Teachers, on the other hand, have good insights into learners’ skills and interests and therefore are well placed to provide the local business community with short lists of relevant skills.

One of the paradigms challenged in the above Conversation was that employment and training opportunities are only available from the `big’ corporates. This Conversation was dubbed the `Little Things Big Difference’ career exhibition. The aim was to show showcase to teachers the wide range of `small’ opportunities available for improving school based career guidance. Examples included:

1. Four tertiary training providers who were all willing to visit these schools with the aim, not just of recruiting (big thing), but of specifically unpacking and explaining career opportunities to learners (small things).
2. A one- person web design company looking for one school leaver for 2017 with skills especially suited to web design
3. The South African Planning Institute (SAPI) who are willing to conduct a special workshop for Geography learners and their teachers with the aim of demonstrating the work and importance of town planners.

The above resources have great potential to address the many factors that tend to exclude learners from underprivileged schools from career decision-making. Much of the print information that learners are given at career exhibitions are aimed at learners with good English comprehension skills. Very often they do not adequately unpack various career fields. More importantly they do not provide learners with the vital understanding of which interest and aptitudes are required in order to be successful in different career fields.

During the Conversation teachers and exhibitors were encouraged to engage with each other and to make arrangements to visit schools after the exhibition.



A special aspect of this intervention is the post - training monitoring to be conducted by SNES and SchoolTrade amongst all participants. This phase of the project is aimed at helping teachers and exhibitors to arrange the interactions that will, ultimately, benefit the career development of learners in these underprivileged schools.


Evaluation questionnaires completed after the two days training revealed the following:

After the teacher training day every teacher indicated that they had learnt a new skill and that they would like to be invited to future training workshops of this kind.

Likewise, after the Conversation between teachers and businesses every participant indicated that the exercise had been useful to them and that they would attend another such Conversation.

The evaluation forms also collected many useful suggestions for making this process even more effective. One of those was to arrange this intervention earlier and more often in the course of the year.



So far the innovative PPP between SchoolTrade, SNES and the local business community to improve career education in the district has yielded encouraging results. Preliminary indications are that all stakeholders see value in the process: SNES, Teachers and businesses seem to support the idea of more frequent, direct conversations between stakeholders for the benefit of youth employment and business growth. In the process LO teachers felt empowered and had gained a practical, cost effective skill to improve career guidance in their schools.

SchoolTrade and SNES plan to report back on the frequency and quality of further business – school interactions, from this intervention, in October.


  During the first day of the training teachers were taught to make careers notice boards
using inexpensive resources like newspapers.


  Melanie Veness, CEO of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business,
welcomes teachers and participating businesses to the workshop.

  Kirsty Lee Franklin from Barloworld Transport informs
Life Orientation teachers about career and training opportunities within Barloworld.


 SchoolTrade Adopt-a-School Programme
SchoolTrade Adopt-a-School Programme
SchoolTrade Adopt-a-School Programme
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SchoolTrade Adopt-a-School Programme
SchoolTrade Adopt-a-School Programme
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