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South African Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, gave his budget speech in the past week – which threw light on a stark issue facing South African society. Gordhan noted that “unemployment is a serious problem in South Africa - 41 percent or only two out of five people of working age in South Africa have a job”.

This high rate of unemployment affects not just those of working age, but also the potential of future generations in that those who lack economic means by extension lack the resources to send their children to good schools – thus perpetuating a cycle that is all too familiar in South African society.

With almost 400 “mud schools” still in existence (mostly in the Eastern Cape), the quality of education across South Africa varies greatly – and in 2009 only 60.9% of those who sat for Matric passed.

“While 65% of whites over 20 years old and 40% of Indians have a high school or higher qualification, this figure is only 14% among blacks and 17% among the coloured population”.

Within the arena of literacy, some areas in South Africa reflect a literacy rate of just 20% -although the national average is said to be just over 80%. Although literacy is a key aspect of upward mobility, adult literacy programmes often have a high drop-out rate – because literacy in and of itself is not the solution to poverty. It is the possession of skills that is most important to growing the middle class in South Africa. The ability to obtain an income through gainful employment is a gaping hole in the fight against crime and of course, poverty. Whether in the form of crafts, artisan work or the creation of food gardens run for profit, it is the creation of options that is crucial.

Although the importance of interventions in the realm of skills development is becoming increasingly recognised as a crucial social issue to our government, it is the grassroots projects that will lead the way in transforming communities.


The existence of local NGO’s that are capacitated to train and support individuals through a skills development process is as important as the existence of a market willing to give these individuals a chance.

Regency Foundation Networx, through its extensive work in communities throughout South Africa, has identified this need as both urgent and extensive. We are currently developing a programme that will seek to address this need in communities across South Africa through an intervention that includes literacy, food security and up-skilling in terms of basic business acumen and crafts.

The programme will aim for not just employment, but also empowerment. The recognition that the tools with which to change your world lies in your own hands is a crucial aspect of any teaching process. Watch this space for new developments and the launch of our upcoming pilot project.