Improving education and access to schools in South Africa

The Creating Caring Schools program is working to improve the quality of life and future economic and social prospects of children by creating a network of caring schools. Where every child can develop to their fullest potential – intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Playing soccer in South Africa

About the program

With an estimated 3.7 million orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa, Caritas Australia’s partner, the Catholic Institute of Education (CIE), is challenged as an organisation to ensure the rights of children are realised. Children experience barriers to learning as a result of poverty and HIV/AIDS which impacts on their overall quality of life and future prospects of social and economic participation.

South African schoolchild

Although significant progress has been made in terms of access to education, existing barriers to learning are not being adequately addressed by the government.

Since 2006, Caritas Australia has been directly supporting CIE's orphaned and vulnerable children program which is now in 23 Catholic schools in three provinces of South Africa – Limpopo, Free State and North West. The overall purpose of the program is to provide integrated care and support for these children. The program seeks to ensure that:

  • School communities have created a community-wide safety net for all children and are able to access services for orphans and vulnerable children related to their health and wellbeing
  • School communities are able to provide quality education to all children at school
  • School communities are able to address some of the basic school related needs, including nutritional needs of orphans and vulnerable children in their schools.

The Creating Caring Schools program has achieved its objectives in creating a safety net for the children. The program is supporting children through nutritional support, school fees, school uniforms, text books, transport to school, access to education and health services, counselling of children and parents, referrals following health screening, supporting pastoral care committees, and networking closely with government departments such as the Ministry of Health and Education Department.

Christina’s Story

Christina, 17, is a Year 12 high school student and lives in a village in Mentz. She tells her story.

"I come from a family with a disadvantaged background. Having lost both my parents in grade 8, it was hard coping with a lot of changes and adapting to the new ways that life was introducing to me.

I have a little sister. She doesn’t go to school here but she has benefited a lot from this program. 

After the loss of my parents, a teacher saw that there were dramatic changes in both my social and academic life. With concern she pulled me aside to see if there was anything she could do.

I explained to her my needs and how stressed I was about my domestic situation. With sympathy she enrolled me in pastoral care, which gave me all the support I needed.

We started receiving food parcels, school attire and stationery. Gradually my social and academic life got back on track. I stopped stressing because I knew that everything was being taken care of.

This program has made a huge difference – not only in my life but in other children’s lives too. I’ve been in the system for four years now and I’m benefiting greatly.

My encounter with the program inspires me to make a difference in my community by completing my studies and having a steady profession, so I can give back to my community."  

Program details

  • Issues: Food security and agriculture; HIV/AIDS; Women and development, Education
  • Partner Agency: Catholic Institute of Education
  • Funding in 2014/15 financial year: US $50,000
  • Geographic location: Limpopo, Free State and North West Provinces
  • When established: 2006