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In Part 2 of our conversation with Sixolile Mabombo, The learning Trust’s recently elected Board Chair, we dig a little deeper. We uncover her thoughts on, the best fundraising models for the After School sector; the biggest lessons she’s learned whilst working in the sector; plus, her vision and bold plans for The Learning Trust. She also shares what she considers the ‘most rewarding times’ of her life, inspired by working in the After School space. Follow this link if you missed Part 1.

 

PART 2

 

Mila:

What would you say, for the After School sector, would be the best approach to fundraising on a large scale?

Xoli:

We almost need to have our own sustainable development goals as the After School sector. What are the 10 benefits of participating in an After School programme? And then we can start to map every organisation based on which of those 10 criteria are they actually addressing? With this map we can start to actually measure the return on investment. So, if we say every year, there were 20 million kids who got trained in leadership. What does being trained in leadership do? It makes you a more responsible and employable member of society, right? We all know this in the After School sector but it’s taken for granted. But we’ve never actually done a charter of the sector. What do we actually want to impact in the country, on the continent? Surely there’s an opportunity for us to impact more lives than just South Africans. And if we get someone who was inspired by a programme and decided to go run it back home, that’s brilliant. That return on investment can be calculated by tracking measures like youth employment, and as these start to multiply, it would be easier to make the case.

Mila:

And who would that case be made to?

Xoli:

I would sell it straight to the corporates because they are the biggest beneficiary out of this. Government is a secondary beneficiary since successful companies pay more tax which means a more well-funded government. Essentially, what you want to do is actually speak to the people paying the taxes because then they can get a tax break, based on what they contribute.

Mila:

What are the benefits of this model?

Xoli:

The advantage for government is long-term and growing youth employment. That’s what they’re interested in. For corporate, they’re interested in better prepared and ready-for-work graduates. For society, it could be an increase in stability and social responsibility. When you start to put it in those categories, you can start to see these are all things that could be measured.

Mila:

Do you have a personal story about the way in which an After School programme really inspired you?

Xoli:

Oh yes! I used to coach debating as part of the South African Schools Debating Board when I was in varsity and post-studies between 2001 and 2008. I saw shy kids growing the skillset to have a discussion where they can hear an argument and readily offer their own opinions in a matter of months! That, to me, was the biggest takeaway that I ever had out of working in that space, because you literally saw kids transform and grow confidence in front of your eyes. I remember I left in 2008 and the 10 years since I left, we had – I don’t know how many – championship wins by those kids all over the world. There were kids, who hadn’t even been to another province, now competing in a debating competition all the way in Dubai. We were seeing these kids going from an inability to even construct a sentence, to actually having full-on concise rebuttals. It still gives me goosebumps right now. And I think about it because it was probably one of the most rewarding times of my life.

Mila:

Would you say that has had a great influence on your eventual involvement in the space of educational development and After School?

Xoli:

Absolutely. I feel that I had a very clear calling to be in the development space. In 2011, I did some leadership and personal development work. And one of the things I dreamed of was this vision of working, particularly with young women and girls, within the education space. In my mind, it was something that was Africa wide. It wasn’t just South Africa. But then at that point I was working for Deloitte as an accountant. I had no clue about education. I had no clue how to work in the NGO space. I didn’t have any contacts. But then, over time, I just slowly got introduced to the right people.

Mila:

Now that you’ve had some years in this space, through your work at New Leaders Foundation and Gradesmatch, what has the biggest lesson been?

Xoli:

Hmm, the biggest lesson, I guess, is we still have a long way to go. The levers that need to be pulled – very few of them actually sit at the DBE level, in the sense that the government is structured as a federal system. So, whilst the DBE can give guidance, direction and set strategic objectives; each province has to apply that and interpret it the way they see fit. A lot of people miss the opportunity in working at the lower levels of government; districts and circuits. Especially as a programme that is location-based, you need to have your local circuit manager or your local district manager supporting your programme. This creates a natural kind of expansion space. So that link for me, between after school and working at the sub-province level, I think was the biggest learning for me because these are the people that are at the coalface of what’s actually going on. They have better capacity to give you the support that you need. Secondly, relationship building is everything. Every single aspect of the education space relies on relationships, relationships between teachers and students, teachers and parents, school and community, and so on.

 

“What do we actually want to impact in the country, or even in the continent? Surely there’s an opportunity for us to impact more lives than just those of South Africans.”

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