Sanlam believes that every child has the power to change the world. And that it’s our responsibility to enable them to do so by giving them the very best start in life. In line with its ‘for generations to come’ centenary theme, Sanlam drove awareness of its Blue Ladder Schools project: a Sanlam Foundation initiative that helps children ‘learn what they can learn so that they can be what they want to be’.
The aim of the Blue Ladder Schools project is to partner with disadvantaged schools countrywide to help improve the teaching and learning of mathematics, create supportive learning spaces, and build sustainable leadership to give learners a head start to a brighter future. Sanlam does this because it also believes that every school changed will have a lasting positive effect on our economy.
To date, the project has benefitted around 72 000 learners across the country through an innovative approach that takes a more holistic view of education, regarding it as part of a whole-school approach. Driven by five pillars around the core maths focus, it’s a model that can be emulated, with three-way strategic partnerships between the schools, education departments and Sanlam, over a five-year period.
These five pillars fit together to create real, impactful results in South Africa’s educational landscape. Francois Adriaan, Head of the Sanlam Foundation, says that the Blue Ladder Schools project has:
• enabled 9 056 children to learn through play on the Sanlam Every One Counts Tour with Takalani Sesame, improved 75 schools countrywide by renovating toilet facilities and infrastructure, and given almost 2 000 educators the chance to make a real difference;
• raised learners’ maths results by an average of thirteen percent in primary schools and eighteen percent in secondary schools in Gauteng;
• increased teacher performance by seventeen percent in secondary and eight percent in primary schools in Gauteng, and by seventeen percent in the Western Cape; resulted in a ten percent higher maths pass rate in primary schools in KZN.
The five pillars
Sanlam’s approach to improving maths competency is grounded in identifying the cumulative knowledge gaps which exist in both learners and educators and, together, developing a customised project to close these gaps. Below, Adriaan explains each of the five pillars around this core focus that was prioritised to create the environments necessary for the effective teaching and learning of maths.
Sanitation and infrastructure: Supportive learning spaces can only be created when the basics are in place. Fixing infrastructure, upgrading toilets and ensuring adequate sanitation not only improve attendance, but also foster a sense of pride and dignity among the learners.
Leadership: Good leadership directly impacts on the sustained success of a school. The Blue Ladder Schools project offers ongoing training and support through its partnership with Leadership LAB SA. This partnership empowers principals and senior management teams to develop their leadership capacity and initiate solutions to school challenges.
Nutrition: It’s easier to teach a child who has regular access to nutritious food. The Blue Ladder Schools project helps supplement school and community nutrition projects by fostering social enterprises. This sustainable approach ‘teaches to fish, rather than providing a fish’ through a partnership with RLabs, a market leader in developing social enterprises.
Playgrounds: Play is an integral part of early childhood development. It stimulates a child’s imagination, supports cognitive development, and improves language, social and motor skills. At Blue Ladder Schools, numbers are also added to play spaces to improve maths competency in a fun way.
Sanlam staff volunteers: The involvement of Sanlam staff is key to making a difference. Sanlam is proud to harness the power and passion of its staff through skills-based volunteering to address schools’ specific needs.
Adriaan stresses that all of these pillars operate together, in cooperation with local communities. “Many social development projects are only run inside schools. The Blue Ladder Schools project recognises the importance of leading across a system that includes both the school and its greater community. If you lead across a community, you increase your sphere of influence, which creates a greater, sustained impact.”
Shop for good
To further support the Blue Ladder Schools project, Sanlam launched Shop for Good in 2018 – an easy way to donate money via an online platform to supply schools with the essentials they need.
Mariska Oosthuizen, Head of Group Brand and Marketing, explains: “Many of us take for granted that all schools have the essentials our children need to learn. But this is not the reality. When you shop for good, you choose how much you’d like to donate. Whether R10 or R1000, every rand counts and will be used to make a difference.”
She concludes: “As Wealthsmiths™, we believe every child educated and every school changed is a success that will positively impact the economy. It is an investment we can’t afford not to make. If we invest in their education today, imagine what more every child could achieve, for their future, for our country, and for generations to come.”