We ‘…believe that the founding principles of society – that is equal rights, justice, freedom of expression, people living peacefully together – are the basic premises for being able to spread a culture that sees children at the centre, allowing the whole society to grow’ (Piero Nasuelli, President of the Association of Friends of Reggio Children, 2000).
Join us in ensuring inclusive and quality education for all
Soul Action’s co-founders, Phil and Rachel Bowyer, have been involved in transcultural community work, education and leadership development for over 20 years. For the last ten years, they’ve focused on addressing ongoing inequality and segregation in South Africa, through Soul Action.
South Africa’s post-Apartheid challenges
Almost 25 years after Apartheid, South Africa remains one of the most consistently unequal countries in the world. At the equivalent of £2,222 GBP per month, the average white South African’s monthly income remains almost five times more than their black ‘neighbour’ who can expect to earn £465 GBP per month. Such disparity sustains inequality, because, as Dr Gallie states, ‘if you’ve got more money, you have a better education’ (2015).
Although free basic education has been available to the poorest two thirds in South African society since 1996, the majority of black South Africans, ‘still attend overcrowded, under-resourced schools with poor infrastructure and inexperienced teachers’ (2017); teachers who only teach for just 3.5 hours each day, compared to 6.5 hours in former white schools, where families pay fees. Research in 2016 by Stellenbosch University found that only one fifth of black Africans achieve 60% or more in their end-of-school exams, compared to two thirds of whites. With a clear discrepancy between the quality of education children from different racial groups receive, Stellenbosch’s Dr Nic Spaull, who is a Senior Researcher in the University’s Economics Department, concludes, ‘South Africa has the most unequal school system in the world’ (2013).
stainable development….bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals (UN 2015).
Soul Action’s vision, aims and solution
Phil and Rachel have a vision to see South African children learning together. They believe inclusive, equitable and quality education, where every child – Asian, black, coloured, white, rich and poor – learn side by side, will transform South African society, by addressing the ongoing Post-Apartheid challenges of inequality and segregation. Phil and Rachel are in the process of establishing an affordable, excellent, and transcultural school, where every child has equal opportunity to fulfil their God-given holistic potential. Amongst other innovations for a South African school, their approach to fees – where families pay on a sliding scale according to their income – means children from different cultural, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds can learn how to live together, rather than apart.
Partnership and learning opportunities
In 2018, before launching their school, Phil and Rachel are travelling to Italy, the USA, the UK, Israel and Australasia, where they will be looking to learn from existing approaches to equitable and inclusive quality education, and forming partnerships with businesses, charities, churches or individuals willing to share their expertise, finances and / or time to positively transform South Africa.