In South Africa, June is dedicated to youth. In the Rainbow Nation on 16 June, Youth Day is celebrated in memory of the 1976 Soweto uprising, when thousands of young students marched to protest the poor level of education provided for them. The peaceful march then broke out into a riot and was drowned out in blood by the police.
For Enel Green Power – which has seven solar and wind plants in South Africa – education is a fundamental pillar to the improvement of socio-economic conditions.
Here’s where the partnership signed by Enel Green Power South Africa (EGP RSA) with Path Steward (an educational technology company providing services to South Africa’s poorest schools), PSconnect (an association founded by Thabiso Ramadiba and Nathan Dube to provide equal access to educational opportunities for young people growing up in disadvantaged conditions) and Mokhutama Investment Holdings (career development services for level 11 students in villages around Lephalale, in the province of Limpopo) comes in. This partnership has seen results in the creation of the Lephalale Feedback Report, which started in 2018 and whose result were announced recently.
Together for South Africa
A total of 602 students (53% women and 47% men) from 10 village schools in the villages of Seleka, Mokurunyane and Shongoane took part in the first Report. Workshops, professional orientation sessions and career coaching were organized. At the end, assessments and career reports were provided for each student, to help them achieve their goals and direct them toward a tertiary pathway for education or training.
The report highlighted the importance of improving education in scientific-technological disciplines (STEM). Students showed interest in a wide variety of professional courses, 25 in total. Interest in tertiary education was encouraging: 75% of students want to study at university, while 25% preferred programs at TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) Colleges.
The project was very challenging: several students from the schools examined did not even know their own marks, while some schools weren’t able to provide their students access to the internet to find job opportunities or institutes for tertiary education.
Many institutes were understaffed and most teachers showed a need for professional development and training. This was made possible by the project: some representatives from Lephalale were trained to become career facilitators and were allocated for a total of 30% of the project, which they will collaborate with as partners in the future.
Lephalale is located near EGP RSA’s 66-MW Tom Burke solar plant. The site, declared a National Key Point in 2018, powers 122 GWh a year to the national grid and provides electricity to 9 villages in the province of Limpopo.
“EGP RSA wants to keep the spirit of 1976’s youth alive and wants to do this by supporting youth employment. The Group’s philosophy is to create shared value: the competitiveness and sustainability of a company, and the well-being of the community it works in, are closely connected and dependent on one other.”
– Lizeka Dlepu, Head of Community Relations and Sustainability South Africa
Enel Green Power is involved in a long list of educational and professional projects to help South Africa train the leaders of the future. There’s the South African EGP Academy, an educational program to train young people and the unemployed in solar photovoltaic, as well as Open Africa Power, a training program on a continental level, designed to create a new generation of African professionals in the energy industry.
In the Eastern Cape province, EGP has launched - with the NGO Soul Provider Trust – a project that will guarantee food to more than 3,500 children every day in local schools. And with the construction of the Gibson Bay wind farm, a plan was launched to provide free Wi-Fi services to schools in the area.
Also in the province of Limpopo, with the NGO Mothers2Mother, EGP contributes to education and prevention programs for young mothers and pregnant women.