THE CASE FOR EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA:
EMPOWERING YOUTH AND DRIVING SOCIAL CHANGE
The theme that has influenced our work throughout the years is the case for education in South Africa and resilience and hope in adversity. As Trevor Noah highlights in his powerful debut autobiography, “Born a Crime and Other Stories”, education is a means of personal growth and empowerment, a tool for social change, and a means of building a better life for all.
Despite the resourcefulness and perseverance of South Africans, the public education system continues to struggle to deliver quality education to youth. “We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite
limited”. – Trevor Noah
This quote encapsulates our commitment to our mission: to contribute to a more equitable South Africa by improving access to quality education and empowering youth to create their desirable futures.
MESSAGE FROM the
It’s hard to believe that five years have passed
since we launched Trevor Noah Foundation.
In some ways, it feels like we were gathered
at New Nation School in Vrededorp
(meaning “Village of Peace”), South Africa,
just yesterday, full of hope and
excitement about the work ahead.
And in other ways, it feels like we have
been on this journey for a lifetime.
Message From the
I’m delighted to share Trevor Noah Foundation’s first Annual Report celebrating five years of impact with you. Five years ago, Trevor stood on stage at our first partner school to launch TNF alongside two trusting partners, Microsoft and the Johannesburg Parent Child Counselling Centre. As we celebrate our fifth birthday, we share this significant moment with 19 Khulani School partners, nearly ten implementing partners, and 13 dedicated staff members. Overall, it’s been a period of incredible incremental progress and growth.
- Shalane Yuen
On April 4th, 2018, Trevor Noah launched his namesake Foundation in a small school hall in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a profound commitment to education. Surrounded by students, teachers, and representatives from the education sector, he expressed the significance of education in transforming lives and acknowledged the barriers many young people face worldwide.
“I know from personal experience just how important education can be and how it can transform your life,” he said. “The Trevor Noah Foundation is so important because we’re working to break down those barriers and create opportunities for young people to succeed.”
TNF’s approach emphasizes partnerships, with Trevor’s unique leadership capabilities being acknowledged by supporters.
“Your story has huge power and currency in the change leadership we need,” said Nicola Galombik, Executive Director of Yellowoods Holdings.
“What spoke to me about being here [at the launch] today was being true to your roots and bringing your dream home so others could experience that dream and live it as well,” adds Brad Smith, President of Microsoft.
Trevor Noah Foundation’s initial efforts focused on providing digital skills, psychosocial support, and career guidance to learners in need. In collaboration with Microsoft, the Johannesburg Parent Child Counselling Centre, and Gradesmatch, we initiated a pilot programme in a government school catering to orphans and children outside the traditional family structure.
Since then, our flagship initiative, the Khulani Schools Programme, has thrived. Partnering with 169 schools and nearly ten implementing partners, we now impact almost 10,000 students annually. “Khulani,” meaning “to grow” in isiXhosa, reflects our commitment to empowering youth.
Our vision is simple yet powerful: a world where education enables youth to dream, see, and achieve the impossible. We have built a passionate and dedicated community of individuals who share our commitment to youth, teachers, and schools.
Five years later, Trevor’s words on our launch day still resonate: “I’m not afraid to seek expertise and prioritise learning. We are here to listen and learn from our experts.” We value community engagement and decision-making power-sharing with our partner communities. These principles shape our organization and help us create a brighter future for all, where every young person can pursue their dreams.
Transforming Communities: TNF’s programs and Initiatives
Among our notable initiatives is the Khulani Schools Program (KSP), launched in 2018 as our flagship intervention. Through the KSP, we strive to provide inclusive and equitable access to quality education for the youth. Our collaboration with the Provincial Department of Education, primary and secondary education custodians, ensures alignment with and support for provincial education goals.
Additionally, we work closely with implementing partners and the broader community to enhance schools’ capacity for educational excellence.
|community||high school||primary school|
|Braamfischerville||Siyabonga Secondary||Nkone Maruping Primary|
|Julius Sebolai Primary
Moses Kotane Primary
Nomzamo Madikizela Primary
JB Marks Primary
|Eldorado Park||Willow Crescent Secondary||Delrado Primary|
Freedom Park Primary
JB Marks Primary
|Ivory Park||Eqinisweni Secondary||Ivory Park Primary|
Khulani Schools Program
The Khulani Schools program (KSP) comprises five essential components and programs that work together to empower and uplift learners in under- resourced schools.
These include community building, providing vital support to create a solid and collaborative school community; psychosocial support, addressing the emotional well-being of learners and teachers; career guidance, equipping learners with the necessary tools to make informed decisions about their future paths; digital literacy, empowering educators and learners with essential computer skills for the modern world; and the Khula Funda Literacy program, fostering a love for reading and improving literacy skills among learners.
Together, these components form a comprehensive and holistic approach to enable the growth and development of learners within the KSP.
Principal Olivia Hill’s Story
Mrs Hill’s transformative leadership turned Willow Crescent Secondary School into a top-performing institution. Despite facing closure when she took over in 2016, her dedication and belief in her learners propelled the school to a pass rate of 80-100%.
“Children just need somebody to believe in them,” says Mrs Hill, who attributes the school’s success to her exceptional staff who share her vision. She encourages her learners to work hard and not let anyone steal their passion.
Through initiatives like the Khulani Schools program, Mrs Hill ensures the school achieves excellent results. The program provides resources, including the Khulani Skills Lab, for mathematics and English. She believes in staying true to your vision and going the extra mile.
Mrs Hill also involves the community, with learners donating their uniforms and participating in fundraising initiatives. She started a wellness program to tackle drug abuse and promote a healthy lifestyle.
“Schools are beacons of hope for the community,” she says, emphasising the importance of community resources.
Under Mrs Hill’s leadership, Willow Crescent Secondary School has become a model institution, inspiring learners to excel and providing them with the necessary resources to succeed.
1.1. Community Building
KSP emphasizes community building, the cornerstone of our support initiatives. We engage with schools through various channels, including meetings with principals and the School Management Team (SMT), interactions with task team members, Teacher Communities of Practice (COP), and an annual Lekgotla to train the SMT and School Governing Body (SGB) on asset-based community building practices.
During the Lekgotla, school leaders have the opportunity to enhance school operations and improve their leadership skills. Since the program’s inception in 2021, we have positively impacted 113 teachers, empowering them to create a nurturing environment for their learners.
1.2. Psychosocial Support
Under-resourced schools in South Africa face significant psychosocial stressors, affecting both learners and teachers. Recognising the limited consideration given to teachers’ mental health, Trevor Noah Foundation (TNF) partnered with My Online Therapist (MOT) and the Johannesburg Parent and Child Counselling Centre (JPCCC) to provide psychosocial support (PSS) workshops. These workshops addressed educators’ personal challenges, capacitating them to establish support networks for referring learners in need. Through these interventions, TNF successfully reached 292 educators, fostering their well-being and enabling them to better support learners facing socio-economic challenges.
1.3. Career Guidance
According to Pillay (2020), career guidance is a pressing need for South African secondary school learners to make informed career choices and mitigate the negative consequences of uninformed decisions. Recognising the confusion surrounding the transition from secondary education to further studies and employment, Trevor Noah Foundation partnered with Gradesmatch to provide personalised career planning and assistance with higher learning and funding applications for grade 12 learners.
In addition, our inaugural career expo in 2022 had Grade 9 and 11 learners engage with professionals from diverse fields. In these crucial grades, subject choices and post-school education applications begin. A significant achievement was supporting 829 learner applications; to foster sustainability, we trained 12 teachers across our KSP secondary schools on effective methods of providing career guidance support.
1.4. Digital Literacy
Preparing learners with 21st-century skills, particularly in Information and Community Technology (ICT), is crucial. However, educators’ lack of digital fluency poses a significant barrier to effective teaching and learning (Chigona, 2018). To address this, Trevor Noah Foundation, in partnership with Edunova and with funding from Microsoft, focuses on building educators’ basic computer skills and encouraging their use in the classroom.
We have established Learning Centres in three secondary schools and equipped them with an average of 30 laptops. However, access to ICT infrastructure alone is insufficient if educators and learners lack ICT skills. Through our collaboration with Edunova and Microsoft, we train teachers and learners and have initiated after-school clubs to teach coding skills. This culminates in an annual coding competition among the three schools.