UP's school- and home-based models validated in TED Talk


We have made unprecedented progress this year (including the completion of a long-held goal of funding, building, and furnishing an academic centre to serve nearly 1,000 students), all of which was fueled by our donors' record-breaking generosity. We are humbled by their compassion and well aware that we could not accomplish anything without the UP family’s broad, loyal support. 

Our donors know UP enhances each gift's power by taking a strategic approach to reach as many learners as possible. We build programs that respect cultural norms, ensure sustainability, and guarantee that our impact will endure much longer than any individual. Such an emphasis allows our reach to multiply as students attend university, start businesses, and lead communities. Our education-based programs ignite widespread, systemic change through education for all.

UP knows, however, that, to do that, families must be involved. As such, we support only school- and home-based interventions, rather than "orphanages, safe homes, or children's centers." 

Our approach was recently underscored by Tara Winkler, co-founder and managing director of the Cambodian Children's Trust. Winkler "helps vulnerable children escape poverty and be cared for within their families." In a TED Talk entitled, "Why we need to end the era of orphanages," the episode notes read, "Could it be wrong to help children in need by starting an orphanage? In this eye-opening talk about the bad consequences of good intentions, Tara Winkler speaks out against the spread of orphanages in developing countries, caused in part by foreign donors, and details the harm done to children when they are separated from their families and left to grow up in institutions."

Every day, UP sees the ripple effect of investing in students in their own homes. Anelisa, for instance, who is part of our Uphuhliso Program, earned a new school uniform, school shoes, a backpack, writing utensils, notebooks, a protractor, a ruler, a solar calculator, an English dictionary, and a host of other supplies, academic support, and mentoring. With UP’s intervention, she is emboldened to excel in school and draw on the strength of other Uphuhliso scholars at her secondary school.

Because Anelisa remains at home and UP covers her educational expenses, her six siblings are positively affected. Her mother may turn her financial attention to other matters, such as purchasing a dining room table, providing food, buying fuel for heating, and sending the younger ones to creche (aka nursery school) to set the foundation for a strong education. Anelisa's siblings are watching, and they are eager to follow in her Uphuhliso footsteps. Above all, Anelisa is free to do all she does under the watchful eye of her mother, which plays out in much the same way in scores of South African homes: motivated learners moving up the educational ladder while being raised by a mother, a father, a granny, or an auntie, and surrounded by siblings.

And Anelisa is not alone. Anovuyo gathered Uphuhliso neighbors for math lessons during school vacation. Luvuyo took a taxi to get UP tutoring for June exams. Monde inspired numerous family members to apply for our Uphuhliso Program. Sibahle's grades and confidence are improving each quarter. Liyema earned a second chance at entry into Uphuhliso because his mother and sister underscore the importance of education. There is no substitute for family, and South Africans honor that with every breath. UP is proud of its record of respecting South African culture and dreams, and we are grateful to our sponsors for validating our approach through their generosity.