• Free online platform to connect schools with much needed funding and other resources
• Platform aims to improve the educational outcomes at every South African school

17 August 2018 - Johannesburg, South Africa: AlumnusOnline, a free online social networking platform focused on facilitating meaningful engagement between schools and their alumni, was officially launched at the offices of Bryte Insurance in Johannesburg, yesterday. The platform has been designed to provide easy access to the networks, expertise and resources of alumni and other interested donors, for the benefit of South African schools and learners. Among the guests celebrating the launch, was the Director-General in the Presidency, Dr Cassius Lubisi, as well as representatives from business, media and educational institutions.

Speaking at the launch, the Executive Director at AlumnusOnline, Dr Bheka Makhathini, said; “The poor state of education in South Africa remains a growing concern; the country’s ranking for its quality of primary education was 116 out of 137 countries on the World Economic Forum 2017–18 Global Competitiveness Report. This is a stark reminder of the severity of the challenge and while government efforts to improve the status quo, continue, the private sector and alumni of schools also have an important role to play. We are therefore delighted to launch a platform that seeks to uplift schools in multiple respects as well as transform the overall standard of education,”

Insufficient funds and a shortage of skilled educators continue to be a major challenge for many South African schools. To make matters worse, more than 570,000 children aren’t even enrolled at a school, depriving them of the socio-economic prospects that children with access to education may benefit from. Other key challenges inhibiting admissions/ the quality of education include high rates of absenteeism, the cost of school fees in some schools and associated expenses (such as transport, uniforms, stationery, etc.) as well as the lack of resources to accommodate and educate children with physical or mental disabilities.

AlumnusOnline’s ambition is to address these challenges through the support of the general public as well as South African businesses. The focus is on driving a more inclusive, accessible and robust schooling system to advance the educational outcomes of as many schools as possible. Bringing quality learning, recreation and other basic resources such as libraries, science and IT labs, sporting facilities and sanitation amenities, is a major area of attention.

“I am confident in the immense opportunities this platform can unlock for schools in driving meaningful, sustainable growth. The impressive results at schools where alumni and communities play a more active role is evidence of just what can be achieved through more effective collaboration,” added Dr Makhathini.

Speaking on the importance of collaboratively driving access to opportunities, especially for South Africa’s youth, Dr Cassius Lubisi, Director-General in the Presidency, said; “To meaningfully transform South Africa, we cannot continue to perpetuate our country's socio-economic inequalities. We applaud initiatives such as AlumnusOnline that actively focus on creating opportunities for the youth, preparing them effectively for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and driving much-needed empowerment”.

Despite the limited resources, several schools – especially those in rural areas – have produced some of our greatest leaders. This platform thus provides the ideal opportunity for every alumni to re-link with their former schools and make a difference. Through this platform, donors are able to assist schools with funding and learners with career guidance, internships/ learning opportunities, bursaries/ scholarships, inspirational content and subject-related programmes, amongst others.

“AlumnusOnline was inspired by a desire to honour my grandfather’s legacy – a passionate educator who dedicated his life to uplifting the quality of education in his community and the experience of learners. Together with the support of my partners, Bryte Insurance, Strauss Daly, Dimension Data, Internet Solutions and SoluGrowth, we hope to grow the platform from strength to strength, delivering significant value to every school across the country,” concluded Dr Makhathini.

“At Bryte, we are deeply invested in a range of programmes aimed at sustainably advancing education. We strongly believe in the adage of ‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime’ and recognise the critical role education plays in socio- economic empowerment. We therefore feel privileged to partner with AlumnusOnline and support the acceleration of access to quality education for every child in the country,” said Collin Molepe, Deputy CEO at Bryte Insurance.

For more information about AlumnusOnline or to register as a school, alumni, corporate or current learner, please visit www.alumnusonline.com. Registration is free. Every school is encouraged to become a member to be able to benefit from the contributions of generous South Africans.