Jul 03

Building our Nation through education

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, it is fitting that we focus on the ground-breaking work of the Sprit Education Foundation. Madiba reminded us, “Education is the most powerful weapon in the world…Young people must take it upon themselves to ensure that they receive the highest education possible so that can represent us well in future as future leaders.” Tessa Smit narrates how the Spirit Education Foundation is contributing to Madiba’s vision for South Africa. BUILDING OUR NATION THROUGH EDUCATION

Written by Tessa Smit
Trustee and Scholar Facilitator of the Spirit Education Foundation

Building our Nation through Education, one Scholar at a time
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” – these words, uttered by Nelson Mandela in 2003, reflect the reason that the Spirit Education Foundation was established in April 1994 when South Africa enjoyed the miracle of its first democratic election.  Millions of South Africans under apartheid were denied the right to quality education, but with the dawn of democracy, changes in our country were happening at a rapid rate and all primary and high schools were now able to open their doors to children of all races.  Transformation in education could now begin to take place and the imbalances and injustices of the past could at last be redressed.

Retiring from 19 years of teaching in December 1993, I was delighted to be approached by businessman, Ian Kilbride, to help launch an education foundation that would provide good quality education to financially disadvantaged scholars who had the will and the motivation to succeed.

Being passionate about education all my adult life and with a vision for the future, it was a wonderful privilege to be one of the building blocks of an organisation whose mission and vision was to help change the lives of hundreds of scholars and to offer them hope for the future.  Our mission and vision was not only to fund scholars at schools, but to motivate them to achieve to the best of their ability in all aspects of their high school education, to mentor and support them in partnership with their families, and to encourage the creativity, leadership and good self-esteem necessary to help build a prosperous and healthy nation.

The Spirit Education Foundation is a registered non-profit organisation based in Cape Town.  It was founded as the Appleton Foundation and originally worked with primary and high school scholars, but in 2000 changed its name to the KiDS (Kilbride, De Beer Smit) Foundation and began to focus more on high school scholarships where the greatest need seemed to lie.  Then in 2014, in celebration of 20 years and in honour of a renewed vision and mission to set young people free with good quality high school education, KiDS was rebranded as the Spirit Education Foundation.

Spirit turns 25 in April 2019 and has much to celebrate – in 25 years nearly 480 scholars have been educated through it, providing the equivalent of over 2100 years of education.  It has been most rewarding to see many of our Spirit scholars matriculate (often with distinction!) and then go on to study at tertiary level, ultimately building their careers in many diverse fields such as medicine, journalism, education, business and finance, engineering, fashion design, social work, film and media, sports science, public relations and the sciences to name a few.  We salute them all and are so proud to see them making a success of their lives and contributing to the present and future of South Africa.

A Spirit Scholarship is not a bursary that must be paid back, but an opportunity for a brighter future through quality education. All that is asked by the Spirit Education Foundation in return is that when Spirit Scholars graduate, they remain part of the Spirit family in the Spirit Alumni Society and give back to Spirit in some way in the future in appreciation of the opportunity they were given for quality education by the Spirit Education Foundation.

If you would like more information or to make a donation to the Spirit Education Foundation please visit our website at www.spiriteducationfoundation.org or email us at info@spiriteducationfoundation.org