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Our mission is to provide disadvantaged, learning disabled children and youth with access to education; vocational skills training, employment opportunities, and necessary support services. Thereby facilitating their integration into mainstream society and providing them with opportunities to participate in the economy. The aimed outcome of our programme is employable youth and young entrepreneurs.
Jackie Gallagher is the Founder and General Manager of the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust. Twenty years ago Jackie placed a small newspaper advertisement that resulted in her teaching 4 learners every Saturday in a church hall in Joubert Park in Johannesburg.
Today her initiative has grown to a well-respected educational organisation that has helped thousands of children prejudiced by the educational policies of the Apartheid Government to better their education and skills for a brighter future.
Today the Sparrow Schools and Educational Trust is two interconnected projects catering for around 600 children and youth from impoverished communities at a time, employing 82 staff members at the Foundation School in Melville and the Sparrow Combined Vocational Training Centre in Sophiatown.
Jackie took action realising that even though the Apartheid education policies were dismantled no formal programme existed for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them to slot into mainstream schools.
For many it was a futile victory when schools opened to all races as they were never going to be able to fit in and would be once again be left out in the cold. Jackie's initiative gave them the lifeline they needed for quality, specialized and affordable education that would give them the way out of a life of poverty and non-achievement.
The programme expanded rapidly and Jackie had to bring more teachers on board. She also established parent bodies as she believed parents needed to be integrally involved in their children's education.
Learners were charged a nominal fee to cover the running costs of the initiative. However, to supply for the growing demand Jackie took to fundraising to upgrade the facilities and build proper schools.
She approached the Sowetan newspaper and the late Dr Aggrey Klaaste, then Chief Editor of the Sowetan started to play an important part in this initiative. He was appointed as the first Chairman of the Board of Trustees when the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust was registered as a Non Profit Organisation.
From then on the growth was unprecedented and a number of initiatives followed. The first was a teacher upgrade programme and providing teaching relief to empower schools struggling in underdeveloped and impoverished communities. Jackie also saw the need to assist failed matriculates to gain their certification and opened the Sparrow Matric Rewrite Centre. The Sparrows Schools Vocational Skills Training Centre was launched primarily for youth who have such severe learning gaps that ordinary bridging was not feasible and were offered a variety of vocational skills.
- Pearl Nkosi
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