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BARRIERS TO LEARNING SCHOOL VISITS: What I have learnt

- 14 July 2017

This year at GMSAF we started Barriers to learning Program. We are conducting a workshop for teachers and parents. I am doing school visits to those schools that we are working with. The purpose of classroom visits is to observe the teachers doing their lessons with their learners in small group teaching.

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A Brief History

Corporate involvement in the disadvantaged communities has always been a key issue in South Africa. The 1976 Soweto uprising was the catalyst that made business aware of the deep tensions that existed within the communities, and that the future of free enterprise depended on the rapid improvement of the living conditions of the black majority. Far-sighted companies therefore aligned themselves with new development agencies such as the Urban Foundation, and started becoming involved in issues affecting the broader community beyond the factory and office walls.

As political tensions in the country increased, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes were pressurized into addressing the root causes of the problems, rather than merely the symptoms. The Sullivan principles, which were adopted by American companies operating in South Africa during the early 1980s, played a major role in broadening the focus of CSR from addressing local needs, (generally welfare-related), to attempting to impact on official policies and human rights issues.

With the demise of apartheid and the election of a non-racial government in 1994, the attitude of companies to CSR, now more popularly referred to as CSI (Corporate Social Investment), became more fragmented. Many companies felt that the new government's Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP) would in time address all community development needs. The RDP, financed by high levels of company and private taxation plus some international funding, convinced many companies that their best contribution to society would be to stay in business and retain or increase employment levels by concentrating on improving the skills levels of their employees. Other companies involved themselves in the communities by providing grant funding to a wide range of agencies undertaking community development, including national and provincial non-government organisations, education and training institutions, welfare agencies and community based organisations. The depth and breadth of these CSI activities are well documented in publications such as The CSI Handbook, which is published annually by Trialogue.

General Motors (GM) was a dynamic and generous supporter of CSI since the concept was first conceived in South Africa. When GM disinvested from the country in 1987 and the Delta Motor Corporation was formed as a management buyout, Delta continued to be an active supporter of CSI. However, in 1993, Delta undertook a comprehensive internal evaluation of the real impact that all the CSI funding over the years had had on the country's state of socio-economic development, and came to the strong conclusion that a far more dynamic approach was needed. After examination of the approaches being adopted by other South African companies, it was decided to establish a legally independent development agency, the Delta Foundation, which was registered as a Trust in November 1994.

On 1st of January 2004 General Motors bought out the Delta Motor Corporation and in 2005 the Delta Foundation officially changed its name to the GM South Africa Foundation. 

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