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       PRESS RELEASE

Vocational training at Sparrow Schools receives a boost from AstroTech

August 2009

Liza van Wyk, CEO of national training organisations AstroTech and BizTech said: “We wanted to find a way to give further charitable donations in a way that created impact and helped strengthen an organisation especially with the present bad economic situation.
“We became particularly concerned by news reports showing that more than 13 million citizens are receiving social assistance benefits – what this means is that there is increasing poverty. No one likes to live on charity, so we began looking around for organisations that teach marketable skills to young people.

“We selected Sparrow Schools in Johannesburg because of their excellent track record of vocational training which includes giving job prospects to those with learning difficulties. A third of the children who attend their school are also orphans so the challenge from AstroTech and BizTech was to give to them in a way that would strengthen administrative capacity and help them to become better at fund-raising and developing educational modules that would see the school prosper.”

AstroTech encouraged Sparrow to select courses from it – mostly business training for executive and management staff and also its business support sister organisation, BizTech. Courses to the value of R60 000 were selected for senior Sparrow staff including high school and vocational skills training centre principal Reg Taylor and primary school head, Rita Pretorius . Courses selected include Mastering Leadership & Management Skills, Labour Relations and Labour Law, and Great Organisational Skills: Organise yourself to Success.

Bev Booker, Operations manager for Sparrow Schools said, “We can see from our young pupils, many of whom come from very poor families, the importance of practical skills that lead to work. The assistance AstroTech and BizTech are providing enables us to improve our staff skills and that can only lead to a better quality of education for our young people.”

Brief synopsis on Sparrow Schools and the work it does:
Sparrow Schools caters for up to 600 underprivileged young people aged seven to 19. The schools focus on development training and vocational skills including creative design, technology and computer science, carpentry, welding, motor mechanics, clothing production and catering. The annual running costs for the schools - Foundation School, Sparrow Combined and the Vocational Skills Development Training Centres – amount to R12 million.

If you also want to help by adopting a learner, as an example, contact Allison Gallo, Fund Development and Resource Mobilization at Sparrow Schools (011) 673-4410