Unsafe infrastructure at schools is not only holding back the potential of tomorrows leaders, the crisis is a violation of learner’s right to dignity, equality, a safe environment and basic education.
According to a National Education Infrastructure Management System (NIEMS) report published in 2021, 69% of ordinary public school do not have basic libraries and close to 80% do not have laboratories. What is even more shocking, and dangerous, is that out of 23 276 ordinary schools, more than 12 000 still have unlawful pit toilets, more than 5 000 do not have a reliable water supply, and over 3 500 do not have reliable electricity. Our country is facing an infrastructure crisis, and those most vulnerable are on the front lines – some have even lost their lives due to collapse of buildings and unsafe sanitation.
With an average of 65 students per classroom, teachers are overwhelmed, overworked and schools can’t provide the most basic facilities. But there is help.
Founded in 2020, the FEST Foundation is a project-based non-profit company providing education-based solutions to public schools across South Africa’s impoverished communities. Their solutions will be able to create sustainable change to students and educators, and to alleviate the problems associated with poor educational infrastructure and limited support.
“27 years after the end of Apartheid, little has changed for impoverished communities in South Africa when it comes to education and infrastructure”, says FEST Founder Anwar-Yasser Rassool. “Having to attend schools with poor infrastructure is not only degrading to students, but also severely limits their chances of receiving the essential education needed to unlock their future potential. With the right funding, we can change the reality for thousands of children. Our sustainable model continues to grow impoverished schools long after we complete the project. We need to bring the future of education to our schools – and we need to start doing it today.”
The FEST Foundation is committed to creating better learning environments through its innovative approach to leveraging technology with innovation in ICT technology and sustainable building practices. Instead of operating per school, FEST operates within communities and works on both primary and secondary schools to ensure that students benefit from a technological advantage from start to finish.
“Our approach means that FEST can intervene at critical education points and provide strategies for these points that will assist teachers and students in technological training and syllabus utilisation”, continues Rassool. His out-of-the-box “new generation” thinking has allowed him to shed a new and innovative light on problems the education sector has faced for years.
The foundation is currently planning an infrastructure upgrade at Masakhane Tswalepele School that will address and establish a development network for services, buildings and landscape in order of necessity as funds become available. A maintenance programme that involves students, staff and the community will then be implemented to ensure sustainable upkeep of the school and programme.
FEST utilises strategic partnerships to assist in the development and implementation of the projects, and funding is critical to truly shift circumstances. “The meaningful gain we are able to empower communities with when doing these programmes is priceless. Every child deserves a safe and functional space where they can thrive. Yes the task is mammoth because there are so many schools in need, but the solution is simple. Just start. Start with one school – one project. Investment from funders have the power to start a revolution. Let’s change tomorrow by starting today”, he concludes.
Public and private partnerships are critically needed to save the future workforce of South Africa – if you would like to get involved as a partner or donor, or would like more information on current projects, visit the Fest Foundation today.