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PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – A commitment to education and empowering South Africa’s youth was celebrated as Ford South Africa joined the Gift of the Givers Foundation in commemorating the completion of newly constructed classrooms and extensive renovations to existing infrastructure at Solomon Mahlangu Freedom School, located in Mamelodi, Pretoria.
As a public secondary school, Solomon Mahlangu Freedom School is dedicated to the memory of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, honouring his courage and commitment to South Africa as a freedom fighter. He was a military hero in the country’s liberation movement and remains an iconic figure in Mamelodi to this day.
Ford South Africa recently provided a grant of more than R4-million to Gift of the Givers for the project to enhance the academic experience for both learners and teachers at the school. The funding facilitated the renovation of 36 classrooms and bathroom facilities, and much-needed upgrades to the plumbing and electrical systems which had deteriorated over time.
Due to its rapid growth the school infrastructure had become insufficient for the 1 574 learners attending the school. To address this, four additional classrooms were constructed, with the new block dubbed the Ford wing.
“Over the years our intake of children has increased tremendously, and now far exceeds the number of learners the school was designed to accommodate, leading to an overcrowding crisis. Through the generosity of Ford and Gift of the Givers we’ve been able to alleviate our space constraints which will contribute to a much-improved educational experience for our learners, thus enabling our teachers to create a better learning environment,” says Mrs JT Zikhali, principal of Solomon Mahlangu Freedom School.
“We especially look forward to being able to make effective use of our laboratories for Physical Science and Life Science practicals. Our labs and the library were previously used as classrooms to accommodate students,” she says.
Community empowerment was also a fundamental aspect of the project, with Gift of the Givers ensuring that contractors from the Mamelodi community were part of the construction and renovation project. “Through Ford’s grant, our foundation partnered with reputable contractors from the community to leverage on combined expertise for mutual benefit,” says Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers.
Mamelodi is located adjacent to Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant which produces the Ranger bakkie for domestic sales and exports to more than 100 global markets, with many of the company’s employees residing in the area. The Solomon Mahlangu Freedom School was selected by Ford as a commitment to continuously bring support and upliftment to the areas in which it operates.
“Our CSR initiatives address social issues that are most pressing in the communities that Ford operates in. Education is one of our key pillars, as it’s an essential tool for economic empowerment and upliftment,” says Neale Hill, president of Ford Motor Company Africa.
“We are proud to have partnered with Gift of the Givers to help create a conducive learning environment at Solomon Mahlangu Freedom School,” Hill says. “We are confident that this project will positively impact the youth and the broader community in Mamelodi for many years to come. It will give the learners a solid educational foundation, playing a role in developing the next generation of leaders that will build a brighter future for South Africa.”
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