South African Department of Education Takes Over iMatter in 2 Provinces

On Saturday, October 19, we held a ceremony near Pretoria to mark the partnership between the South African Department of Education (DoE) and Hope Educational Foundation (HEF) in Gauteng and North West provinces on the iMatter program.  Over the past 5 years, these two offices have worked closely with us to bring iMatter to teachers and learners throughout their districts.  In the last year, members of each of their departments have been trained as Master Trainers, in order to equip the DoE to carry on with teacher trainers now that our direct involvement has come to an end. From this point forward, these new Master Trainers will be responsible to carry out teacher trainings in their assigned districts.  This is an exciting time, as we reflect on the achievements of the past 5 years and celebrate the continued commitment and potential within the DoE.

Partnership is one of our core values.  We strive to build relationships with those organizations and individuals who are already making an impact somewhere in order to maximize our effectiveness and to be truly helpful to the community.  The ultimate goal of many of our programs is to then transfer the program from our control into local hands, which enables our partners to take ownership of the program and helps to increase the program’s sustainability.  In this case, it has been a great pleasure to prepare the DoE to incorporate the iMatter teacher trainings into their existing structures. Over the last year, our Training Specialists have trained DoE Curriculum Advisors to become Master Trainers.  These are the individuals who have previously collaborated with us to coordinate the teacher trainers; now they will be able to conduct the trainings themselves.

At the handover ceremony, we had the opportunity to hear testimonies of the program’s impact from both Master Trainers and Deputy Directors.  It was a privilege for us to hear the perspective of those who are on the front lines of the fight against HIV/AIDS, and to hope with them for a better future.  Mrs. Mabena mentioned the emotional struggle of encountering and empowering those teachers who are HIV positive or who have lost loved ones to AID to fight for the next generation.  The support shown for the program was overwhelming, and it was our sincere joy to pass the program on to those who are best positioned to sustain it.

We also had the opportunity to hear a summary of the reach of the program within these provinces.  In the last year, 19 Master Trainers have been trained.  In turn, 368 teachers have been trained and 3,768 verified learners have been reached.  We expect to see many more teachers trained in the coming months, as the Master Trainers take on the challenge ahead. Going forward, the burden of action will rest on the DoE.  However, HEF will continue to support and assist them with this new task.  Regular follow-up meetings are to be scheduled, and HEF will continue to provide the curriculum for the iMatter lessons for the time being.

It was with gratitude and emotion that we participated in this ceremony.  iMatter has been our flagship program in South Africa, the one that started it all, and we are proud of it – but it couldn’t have been done without the untiring support from friends like Mrs. Sibongile Mabena and Mrs. ME Mokhutle, who have fought for the program and encouraged program participants along the way.  With their help and the help of others like them, we hope that iMatter will continue to reach children across South Africa and to enable them to prevent HIV.

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