TIMELINE

South Africa, the 1960’s: A country abundant in natural resources, with a vibrant population, yet marred by racial inequality and oppression. Power rested in the hands of the elite, the ruling National Party, who through “Grand Apartheid” violently segregated the non-white majority. During this time Prime Minister Verwoerd made his infamous statement that Africans could only ever be “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. It was this volatile climate that drove key business partners within the Sugar Industry to take action and courageously challenge the status quo of the apartheid regime.

1945 - 1960s
1960s
1965
1970s
1980s
1990s
LATE 1990s
THE 2000s
2010 - 2015
50th Anniversary
2016 - 2022

1945 - 1960s

A TURBULENT PAST. A COURAGEOUS FUTURE.

Following the end of World War II, South Africa entered four decades of history that became infamously known the world over. Under Afrikaner minority rule, the governing National Party established a system of racial segregation and inequality throughout the country, enforced by government legislation…

1960s

South Africa declares itself a Republic and leaves the Commonwealth

Mandela heads the ANC’s new military wing, which launches a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. Seventy black demonstrators are killed in a peaceful protest at Sharpeville. The ANC is banned. The extension of the University Education Amendment Act bans Black students from attending White universities…

1965

A Seed is Planted

SITFE began in 1965, with a seed capital amount of R2.4 million. From the start of its journey, the Trust focused primarily on providing financial support and resources for disadvantaged students, whose families could not afford to send them to school or university. In particular, interventions for children of the Industry’s resource pool remained at its heart, as well as teaching the teachers who would directly impact these young people…

1970s

Pioneers of Growth

In the 1970s, SITFE’s focus broadened to include rural communities who had little or no access to formal schooling, as well as the training of the large pool of unskilled labour involved in the Sugar Industry. An initiative was launched in 1973, to promote SASA’s developing cane-growing members in rural and peri-urban areas.

1980s

Pioneers of Growth

As South Africa struggled its way into the 1980s, the Sugar Industry and SITFE continued with their mandate of pioneering development and change. Bursary for Black students had increased to R60 000 per year, and R150 000 was sponsored towards a tertiary…

1990s

Deepening Roots

As South Africa entered the decade that would witness the birth of its democracy, SITFE marked an investment of R1,4 million in helping students realise their potential. The following year, the Trust involved itself in a number of community projects, with the building of schools…

LATE 1990s

Deepening Roots

In 1995, SITFE supported the Natal Schools Project, which was responsible for building 35 classrooms in 12 different rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal. This initiative also saw the construction of administration blocks, school halls and ablution facilities for these schools. 1995 also saw the launch of the Equity Project, a programme supported…

THE 2000s

New Growth

As South Africa entered the new millennium, SITFE began to focus on broadening its initiatives and its overall impact on education in the country. The Bursary Programme, now more than 30 years old, had grown to accommodate four different types of bursary schemes, including Teacher Training, University, Agricultural College, and Skills Development. SITFE continued to maintain this project as a key focus, providing…

2010-2015

Focus on Education

Although the programmes of the past four decades had all been of great significance, as SITFE entered its forty-fifth year, it was felt that its focus had become too diverse, minimising the overall impact of the Trust’s efforts. Much had changed in South Africa since SITFE’s inception, leading the Trust to re-evaluate their initiatives, focus and future…

SITFE 50th ANNIVERSARY

Marking our 50th Anniversary

The Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education (SITFE) recently formally celebrated its fiftieth year of existence by hosting a glittering black tie event at Durban’s Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre. Attendees included representatives of the South African sugar industry, SITFE and its supporters, and provincial government, and also previous and current beneficiaries of the SITFE. The previous beneficiaries include Judge President John Hlophe of the Western Cape Division of the High Court, businesswoman and former KwaZulu-Natal First Lay, Dr May Mashego-Mkhize, and Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande. Since its inception, SITFE has provided bursaries to approximately 10 000 children of farmworkers in SA’s sugarcane growing sector, and financed school building projects, among its various activities. KwaZulu-Natal’s Premier, Senzo Mchunu, said that the contribution that the SITFE had made towards the provision of quality education for these children was “immeasurable”.

2016-2022

Strategic shift “to missing middle’

In 2018, President Jacob Zuma had announced that government would subsidise free higher education for poor and working-class students from South African households with a combined annual income of up to R350 000. In light of this, Trustees held a strategic review in 2022 and agreed to shift its focus to missing middle candidates who’s annual house income is between R350 000 – R600 000

2016-2022

Covid-19 response

SITFE conducted a survey to ascertain the Higher Education access to online learning. The outcomes suggested the need for a digital device for students to retrieve the online learning platforms offered by the institutions. Previously, SITFE only awarded laptops to top perfoming graduates and the prestiogious annual SITFE graduation. Since Covid 19 pandemic SITFE has considered and approved a number of laptops to current and new SITFE recipients in need.

The SITFE policy was amended to accommodate the need for digital devices for e-learning.

The pandemic brought a dramatic shift on how we gathered, celebrate, and commemorate, hence SITFE hosted its first virtual graduation function on the 1 July 2021.

2016-2022

Donation from SASA Transformation Interventions

The Trust Fund received a generous R5 million donation from the SASA Transformation Interventions.

2016-2022

Continued support for Early Childhood Development

It is commonly acknowledged in the social development arena that ECD is critically important as a starting block for a child’s future and an opportunity to start addressing inequality in South Africa. Although the South African government has led an important expansion of ECD services since the start of democracy, there is still a significant gap in ECD services for the poorest children. There are also additional challenges faced by the ECD sector which affect the quality of ECD services. Due to the fragmentation of the sector and a lack of accurate statistics, it is difficult to determine the exact need for ECD, however, some estimate that despite recent progress, nearly 1.1 million children aged three to five still do not have access to any form of the learning programme. Almost one-third of these children live in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the key sugarcane-growing regions.

SITFE’s strategic secondary focus is Early Childhood Development through its current and historic partnerships with leading ECD specialist including Do More Foundation, Focus on iThemba, KZN Umlimited Child, TREE.

2016-2022

First black female Chairperson

SITFE underwent its first AGM during 2021/2022 season. Nkonzo Mhlongo was elected as the first black female SITFE Chairperson.