Case Study: A Whole-School Development Initiative

Edcon Hlakaniphani Cropped

The business of doing business today is not only about making a profit, but it is also about pursuing business objectives in a responsible and sustainable way that takes into account the environment and the communities in which business operates. Edcon has embraced this challenge, seeing it as a means of gaining a competitive advantage while demonstrating its community values to customers, suppliers, and employees.

In 2011, Edcon adopted a new CSI strategy, which focuses on working with strategic partners, to enhance and strengthen its investment and involvement in community development initiatives in South Africa.

One of the key focus area of Edcon’s Corporate Social Investment is education, a priority development area in the country. The company recognises that education is the foundation for alleviating and eradicating poverty in our society and uplifting individuals, families and communities. It is the ultimate vehicle towards achieving sustainable socio-economic growth, progress and success.

Edcon is firmly committed to supporting flagship initiatives within their focus areas and in 2011 made a long-term commitment to invest in education through the Adopt-a-School Programme.  An initiative that applies a Whole-School Development model to turn adopted schools into centres of excellence.

The Edcon Adopt-a-School Programme works with the key stakeholders of adopted schools such as the principals and staff, the SGB, Department of Education, to improve teaching, learner performance, school infrastructure and the overall school environment. This approach ensures that learners receive the best possible education and perform at their best; that educators have the right skills and capacity to impart knowledge and apply the curriculum, and also helps create school environments conducive to teaching and learning.

Hlakaniphani Junior Primary and Lilydale Higher Primary Schools, both based in Dlamini, Soweto were adopted by Edcon in 2011 and 2012 respectively to pilot the project in Gauteng. The schools were selected following an engagement process with strategic internal and external key stakeholders.  As part of the engagement process, a needs analysis was done with key stakeholders, following which a project implementation plan was developed to support both schools.

The support provided towards the improvement of the school infrastructure, teaching and learner performance was guided and informed by the School Development Plans. These interventions supplemented and/or complemented the school development plans, closing existing gaps that couldn’t be readily filled.

Support to the schools include:

  • Annual donations of school uniforms and stationery for learners in need
  • 2 additional educators
  • A computer centre
  • A teaching toy library and librarian
  • A school kitchen
  • A permaculture food garden to supply the school kitchen
  • Play areas were upgraded and
  • School security huts and signage were installed

Impact of the programme:

Educator & Learner Performance

    • Additional educators reduced educator-learner ratio  to an average 1:40 between 2011 and 2014
    • Improvement in lesson planning, managing the curricula and teaching resources
    • Improved educator confidence and subject teaching within their respective areas
    • Improved educator computer literacy skills due to Computer and QIP Training provided
    • Integration of the CAMI Mathematics Software in Computer Centre in lesson plans
    • Progressive improvement of learner performance in the Annual National Assessments (ANA) in literacy and numeracy.
    • Classroom Support for Grade R and Pre-Grade R practitioners
    • Toy Library  and librarian has improved Pre-Grade R and Grade R curriculum application by practitioners
    • Nutritional training for school kitchen staff improved school feeding scheme menu.

School Reputation & Performance

  • Progressive increase in learner enrollment at the school –preferred school by parents, for their children.
  • Leaner intake increased from 585 learners in 2011 to 800 learners in 2013
  • Improved school infrastructure a boost to learner, educator attitude and community pride
  • Improved school safety through improved security school access controls
  • Parents involvement in the school via an active SGB
  • Improved School Feeding Scheme
  • Parents volunteerism – in manning the school food garden and general participation in parents meetings
  • Improved nutrition in school feeding scheme through the school food garden
  • Feeding scheme extended to homes of leaners from child-headed and granny-headed families

Currently Hlakaniphani also acts as a feeder school to Lilydale HP, thus ensuring continuity for the children with regards to the standard of teaching, school infrastructure resources and the general school environment. Edcon continues to work with Hlakaniphani, whilst building on lessons learned to support Lilydale HP to help improve performance, as well as the general school infrastructure and environment.


Adopt-a-School is a Whole-School Development Initiative aimed at developing education ecosystems within communities that support excellence in teaching and learn performance throughout their education, from Foundation Phase through to Further Education and Training.

Lessons Learnt

A key challenge of this project was prioritising needs versus wants. The key lessons relate to the significant impact that a whole-school development approach has in strengthening the effective functioning of schools, improving educator confidence in curriculum knowledge and delivery and thereby creating an environment conducive to excellence in learner’s performance. A well-functioning school management and leadership team, as well as buy-in from all key stakeholders are critical to the success of such an intervention. Edcon recognizes the value of going beyond the classroom and improving the overall school environment, as well as the school interaction/engagement with parents and the local community.

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