Education in South Africa is not without its challenges and every day the media reports on the struggles that teachers and learners face in schools throughout the country.
In response to the looming educational crisis, in April 2000, French national, Carole Podetti-Ngono, founded the Valued Citizens Initiative and has dedicated the past eight years to helping the Department of Education restore the values of citizenship in schools. In recognition of her efforts, Podetti-Ngono was named a finalist in the Education category of the Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year 2007.
From the outset, Renault South Africa has helped drive the Valued Citizens Initiative (VCI) and is today a Platinum Sponsorship partner of this worthy educational programme. Over the past eight years, VCI has evolved from an ambitious pilot project with a few classrooms to a large organisation that currently reaches 1 385 public schools, 395 000 learners and 3 350 educators throughout the Free State, Limpopo and Gauteng provinces.
Xavier Gobille, managing director of Renault SA says that VCI continues to plant a seed in each of its learners. “It is largely due to this that these youngsters will make their way in life and embrace the role of Valued Citizen within their working environment and home communities.”
The Valued Citizens programme focuses on the development of responsible citizenship through public schools and educators and principals trained by the programme teach South Africa’s youth about the country’s constitution, their rights and the responsibilities that these rights entail. Through discussion, these young learners acquire the skills that will enable them to make critical choices regarding their future as citizens of South Africa.
Podetti-Ngono says that Valued Citizens has also proven instrumental in the prevention of crime and violence. “With 84% of our learners saying “no” to drugs, 76% of them feel they have a mission to fight crime.” One just has to visit any of these Valued Citizens schools, note the absence of vandalism and witness the respect shown to all those who enter these schools and their environment.”
“The greatest hope for a better future lies in the potential of South Africa’s children and their chances for a better life will be significantly improved if they are given the right opportunities,” agrees Xavier Gobille. “It is our belief that the key elements that make for good leadership can be instilled and developed in children from a very early age and Renault South Africa is proud to be part of this exceptional initiative.”