As a partnership between the Zululand Chamber of Business Foundation (ZCBF), the regional education department and the private sector, the project aims to improve the standard of education and teaching at a range of previously disadvantaged schools in the region. This is achieved by a funder adopting one particular school, and providing a variety of interventions, from improvements to facilities, to the development of governing bodies and training of teachers and principals.
Assistance is provided over a 12-year period, in an attempt to create an uninterrupted chain of intervention in the pupils' school career. Assistance focuses on the physical needs of the school, such as buildings, computers or science equipment, and those of the learners, such as books, stationery, life-skills training and career guidance. In addition, emphasis is placed on teacher upgrading through training in computer skills, HIV/Aids awareness programmes, sport administration and management. Interventions also target the school governing bodies, and the development of business plans.
The project targets approximately 38 schools, and includes pre-schools, primary and secondary schools. The project currently benefits around 32 000 scholars. The progress of each pupil at PEN schools is individually monitored through an extensive database kept by the ZCBF, and includes details of each school, each teacher and each intervention.
One of the specific objectives of the project is to improve the matric pass rate of the participating schools from a starting point of 38% to a rate of 80% at the end of the 12 years. To date the project has had a positive impact in this regard, with the PEN High Schools showing an average pass of 62% in 1999; the average pass-rate for the province being 51%, and the average pass-rate for the Empangeni region being 43%.
"The aim of the PEN project is to provide the support structures necessary for education transformation to take place and to facilitate change within the education department" CBF Annual Report 1999 / 2000