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Pragma’s socio-economic development programme makes education accessible to many

Boy with textbooks
Boy with textbooks

Creating sustainable access to the economy for beneficiaries of socio-economic development (SED) programmes is a Pragma priority. In the past year many employees were fortunate to share Pragma’s goodwill with beneficiaries that they were personally involved with.

“Any SED contributions should provide sustainable benefits – teaching people to fish rather than giving them a fish. If a company is not creating sustainable access to the economy for beneficiaries, they’re not involved in SED,” says Stéphan Pieterse, Chief People Officer at Pragma.

SED contributions should concentrate on two areas, namely imparting transferable skills and enabling access to the workplace. This means that beneficiaries accrue experience, which ensures that they add lasting and economic value to the economy. These priorities ensure that socio-economic development is sustainable, and the result is better equipped, more useful contributors to the economy.

Pragma’s SED programme is restricted to projects where its employees are already involved. “Our employees are invited to suggest causes for consideration each year. As our employees are already involved, Pragma proves it values what they value. We get involved in projects that are close to their hearts, and most of these projects are ongoing,” Pieterse adds.

An organisation that Pragma collaborates within SED and Corporate Social Investment projects is Distance for Difference (D4D). Their focus is to help children in need, and this is done by assisting athletes who participate in sporting events to raise funds via events. In 2017 and 2018 financial support was provided for the Homework Enrichment Lifeskills Programme (HELP). “During this time Pragma and D4D contributed donations to make it possible for HELP to appoint a qualified teacher to assist the children with their homework. The appointment enabled HELP to offer better quality tuition in mathematics and English. We decided to continue with this great initiative and made a further donation towards the teacher’s salary,” Pieterse says.

Jean Goussard, Solutions Specialist at Pragma, is involved at Calling Education, a private high school that delivers education of outstanding quality at a school fee of less than R7 000. The church that Goussard attends runs a social justice programme which supports the school with its general upkeep and maintenance. Pragma and D4D donated funds towards the school fees of two pupils.

According to Nangamso Mketo, Brand and Marketing Administrator at Pragma, her brother Siliziwe Mketo started his tertiary education at iStudent Academy in 2019. He is doing a two-year course in IT Engineering which involves programming and networking. He received a bursary from Pragma. Says Mketo: “The bursary covered my brother’s remaining first-year fees including a tablet, e-textbooks and vouchers to write his Microsoft exams. Before he got the bursary, I was paying his fees. Pragma allowed me to help my family and work towards furthering my own education. Siliziwe aims to become an information, communications and technology specialist. We’re so grateful to Pragma for the bursary towards his studies. It has made such a huge difference in our lives. I’m so blessed to work for a company that invests in its employees.”

Chief Operating Officer at Pragma, Attie Nieuwoudt, is involved with the Sinenjongo High School through his church. “Pragma hosts an annual career day, offers extra IT classes, supports the matric farewell dance, and more. Our company has also donated printers and chairs and invited a group of their students to job shadow. Furthermore, we gave a cash donation to support 18 Grade 12 learners for the last four months of the year who met the criteria of being hard workers, in financial need, with plans to study further. Another student couldn’t afford transport to get to school, and with her transport costs sorted, she is now at school every day without fail. Another promising student was found living in a shack all on his own with no money or food, so we found an anonymous donor. It’s heartwarming to see the effect these actions have on the youth.”

Morne Steenkamp, Cape Regional Manager, is raising funds for one of his daughter’s friends. “Thamaga is friends with my daughter and they play in the same netball team at Stellenberg High School. We’re helping to raise funds to assist her family with the expenses associated with her education (school fees and sport-related expenses). She is a talented netball player and has been selected for the u/16 SA netball team. We also assist with her school fees.”

Emile Cronje, Senior Analyst Developer at Pragma, adds that his oldest daughter, Zanne, joined the Kruiskerk Transkei Workers Outreach group in Coffee Bay during the 2019 winter holidays to help complete a computer centre. “We were so grateful to Pragma for their financial contribution to fund the purchase of computers for the centre.”

Pieterse concludes: “We live by Margaret Mead’s quote: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ All the above projects prove her point and we hope that others are inspired to get involved.”

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