This has been yet another successful year for African Scholars’ Fund! Generous sponsors have enabled us to make more awards than ever before. It has also been a year of momentous decision making and planning for change.
Our Director and founder, Dr Margaret Elsworth, initiated a planning exercise for all interested parties to contribute ideas about management structures, the role of Trustees and future plans. Thanks to generous financial support from the D G Murray Trust, the free use of a venue at St. Thomas’s Church, and expert honorary facilitation by David van Eeden, this event generated important strategic guidelines for implementation, based upon a strong consensus that existing practices, as well as the name of the Fund and its ideals, should be conserved. A first consequence was to re-energise the Board of Trustees with new appointments – we welcome Biddy Greene, Wendy Moult, Mark Solomon and the very happy return of John Gardener.
Margaret Elsworth’s intended retirement at the end of 2007 prompted the Board to advertise the position of Director, a process again greatly aided by expert advice from David van Eeden. Furthermore the Board expresses its profound gratitude to an anonymous benefactor for underwriting the salary for the Directorship for the next five years! It is pleasing to report that Eliza James was appointed as Director with effect from January 2008. Her very positive attitude and energetic personality do indeed promise to ‘make us fly even higher’, to quote her response to the news of her appointment.
The Teachers’ Strike influenced many schools over several weeks during 2007, and only a few were able to write their June examinations. Consequently, numerous mid-year assessments and second payments were delayed or even withheld. The results of September tests were accepted as an interim measure but, sadly, many learners were unable to comply, and they submitted results that had been adversely influenced by the strike. All 2007 bursars were then sent messages of encouragement for the December examinations and reapplication forms. Although thousands of new applications were received for 2008, we believe that the strike depressed these numbers, as well as those based upon provisional acceptances who failed to submit their December reports.