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After we founded the Hermanus Varsity together with Emiritus Prof John de Gruchy, the start of the Overstrand Learning Hub was a logical next step for us with dr Nicoline Rousseau as executive director. The Hub provides a learning structure that combines online instructions with face-to-face individual and small-group tutoring and practical training in community schools. The students will be prepared for the challenging job of being an educator.

I have learned this very important lesson over the years -
Unemployment is a bad thing - But being unemployable is even worse, I think.
This is typically a young person from the township who enroll for course after course in skills development, and then, with six or seven certificates in hand walk from business to business looking for a job, only to be turned away because there is no DEPTH of training towards solid sustainable jobs.
Or young people with degrees in tourism or HR now working as waiters, if they are lucky.
Just a few weeks ago someone asked me to go and meet a young girl who works as a cleaner at Capitec in town. Meeting her I found out that she has a B-Sc degree in Biomedical Science ... working as a cleaner.
Thank the Lord she is now enrolled for the PGCE at the Hub, and definitely in a year's time she would find employment as a Science or Biology teacher at a Secondary school. There's a huge huge shortage for this.
This is why we focus on one thing only at OLH ...

Overstrand Learning Hub is a direct outflow from Sparklekids.
It was very clear to me that we needed a Tertiary Institution in Hermanus that would allow disadvantaged young people to study locally, and from home, to save enormously on costs. Angie and I went to see our old friend Prof John de Gruchy about three years ago to get all this started - And as they say, the rest is history.

Because of our previous years of experience showing us that students who qualified as Teachers are now all employed, earning reasonable salaries, with medical aids and pensions, the choice of our focus was clear to see. Having a Teaching degree is real poverty alleviation.
It is also the most important job in the world - We all have seen that a child is either made, or broken during their foundational years.

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We started during 2021 with a B-Education Foundation degree course, as well as a Higher diploma in ECD (Early childhood development), for students who do not qualify to do the degree program, (as a stepping stone into the degree course.)
The B-Ed is a four year course and the Higher certificate is a one year course.
This year we also offer a PGCE (Post graduate certificate in Education). In the next few years around 40% of existing teachers will be retiring, so jobs are reasonably guaranteed.
We would love to see our student numbers double every year, funds permitting - But never at the cost of quality - (Dr Nici is far too strict for that).

Dr Nicoline Rousseau heads all of this up - Her Phd was in Reflective Educational Practice, and so this is her heart and focus.

She spent nearly thirty years on the highest level of Teacher training at
Universities, and she is glaringly aware of what is needed to make an excellent world class Educator - and what is currently lacking in the education system -
This is why The Old Synagogue, the Hub where all this happens is the
fulfilment of a life's dream.

She has twenty one highly educated Tutors, (all volunteers, some with double doctorates), that support and assist her to do this all important endeavour - To produce the best Teachers possible.
The proof was seen in that at the end of 2021, some of our students passed with six distinctions - This done from some holding two full time jobs on top of their studies.

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All the course material is from the highly respected Stadio University. -
Our recipe ticks all the boxes so far. Distance learning - but with hands on Tutors.

Through donations to Sparklekids, (friendships and relationships built over many years), we support all of the forty five students financially to a lesser or greater degree, according to their individual needs and circumstances - (There is no Government support)
From next year our financial support will evolve into an interest free loan
that the students will have to pay back when they start earning.
The student course fees amount to approx. R30 000 per year - R28 500 of this amount gets paid over to Stadio University, and R1500 per year comes to OLH.
(To study the same B-Ed degree at Pretoria University will cost between R45 000 and R65 000)
Sparklekids is responsible for helping with all student fees.

The infrastructure costs for the building and administration etc. are carried through fundraising by other people -
It is harder, I think, to raise funds for infrastructure, and the Hub running costs to keep the system going, than fundraising for student course fees - So I'm constantly aware of this as far as the future of Overstrand Hub is concerned.