A new grape-vine has possibilities !
Each year we award scholars at about 450 schools, many in rural areas. Our office is too far away. The principals are too busy so we need people on the spot to help us keep communication going in our work. Each school was invited to nominate
a Bursary Representative,
someone who could make sure that children needing help are selected to apply for our bursaries, that reports are sent and that our money is properly paid out and receipted. The Bursary Reps could become the most important people in our administration because they are our agents, right there in the schools. Best of all, communication between us begins with the ubiquitous cell-phone! Everyone has one and text SMS messages costs are low. 233 Bursary Representatives sent us cell numbers in 2007.
Our ASF Cell Number is: 074 455 1438
It is vital to ensure that the children actually get their money. Sometimes they are told to “sign now and you will get the money later” – and sometimes no money is given! Sometimes the school takes a few rands to cover bank charges for doing the pay-out. Most importantly the bursary rep can make sure to return the lists signed by the awardholders to prove receipt of their money. In November 2007, 33 schools were blacklisted. As this Annual Report goes to print we have no more blacklisted schools.
Bursary reps also keep us up to date with school fees and other charges.
Educators (teachers) went on strike in June 2007,
The strike dragged on for weeks. While in settled areas the teachers managed to work around the boycott, in poorer areas the staff risked their lives if they attempted to go to school. Teaching was paralysed for weeks. June exams were written sporadically and reports were difficult to assess. Our bursary work and follow-up were seriously affected. The cost of lost schooling to learners and society was huge, beyond any estimate.
Thank you to schools for carefully prepared applications
The stamped envelopes, the excellent selection, the tidy packs, the detailed documentation and the careful letters were all neatly put together for easy handling - what a difference this made! Often there was a letter of appreciation from a school saying how much these bursaries meant to their children because they came from such poor homes with so little