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Transforming Education for a Brighter Future: An Interview with Azwindini Masia

Azwindini Masia, the Business Manager for the AASA Education Programme at De Beers, is one individual whose passion for education is making a profound impact. We had the privilege of sitting down with Azwindini to discuss her role at JET Education Services and the transformative AASA Education Programme.

Azwindini’s responsibilities encompass various aspects, including Project Management, Project Implementation, Monitoring and Quality Assurance, and Stakeholder Engagement and Management. Essentially, she oversees the effective and efficient management of the AASA Education Programme, both Phase 1 and Phase 2. 

The AASA Education Programme is part of the AASA Sustainable Mining Strategy, which aims to provide inclusive and quality education for children in communities surrounding De Beers' operations. “Our primary goal is to improve learners' educational outcomes and create pathways to tertiary education. We start early, supporting children from ECD level through primary school education up to Grade 12. It's a long-term commitment to nurturing development from an early age for successful outcomes after 12 years of formal schooling,” shares Azwindini.

She is motivated by seeing the tangible impact of our project implementation. “I’m passionate about witnessing learners and teachers from historically disadvantaged communities achieving their utmost potential, even when competing against more advantaged peers. It warms my heart to see learners gaining access to tertiary education, mastering essential literacy and numeracy skills at the primary level, and ultimately, ending the cycle of school dropouts,” she adds.

Azwindini shares some of the highlights and significant milestones of the AASA Education Programme:

  • Effective Schools Management and Governance: Our schools now have focused and responsible management and governance structures.
  • Teacher Development: We've witnessed a significant shift toward learner-centred teaching methodologies, with confident teachers delivering the subject mandates effectively.
  • Parental Community Involvement and Learner Leadership (PCILL): Parents are actively engaged in supporting education, with school food nutrition gardens, career guidance programs, and educator registration as career practitioners.
  • ICT Integration: Teachers and learners are now using ICT in teaching and learning, with Wi-Fi connectivity in schools.
  • Job Creation: We've created both fixed-term and short-term jobs, contributing to local economic development.
  • Direct Learner Support: We're increasing access to post-school opportunities, assisting with bursary applications, and providing differentiated support to Grade 12 learners to improve their chances of success.

Phase 2 of the AASA Programme marks an exciting expansion of our efforts. We've onboarded Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Primary School Implementing Partners who are actively implementing programs on school grounds. Grade R, which was not supported in Phase 1, is now included. All schools have received ICT devices, and we're enhancing Wi-Fi connectivity. We're also empowering learners with robotic skills, preparing them for a technology-driven future.

Azwindi shares how the project has expanded at JET. “We've established a solid support structure within JET Education Services. We have an Executive and Programme Manager providing strategic support. Additionally, we've assigned component managers for various aspects of the project, including M&E, Finance, and Infrastructure, ensuring strategic alignment and effectiveness.”

Some of the notable achievements of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the AASA Education Programme are that they reached 25 schools, achieving remarkable outcomes such as:

  • Successful implementation of Parental Community Involvement and Learner Leadership (PCILL) in all 18 Primary Schools;
  • Foundation teachers' content knowledge improvement in all 18 Primary Schools;
  • Support for Grade 4-7 teachers in Mathematics and EFAL in all 18 Primary Schools;
  • Grade 8-9 and Grade 10-12 teachers' content knowledge improvement;
  • Enhanced ICT integration in classrooms;
  • Over 80% of teachers, are now confident in using various teaching methodologies; and
  • Improved infrastructure, including toilet facilities.

In Phase 2, they're making strides in 16 Primary Schools, 8 Secondary Schools, and 20 ECD Sites:

  • Onboarded Phase 2 Implementing Partners;
  • Conducted baseline learner assessments and teacher tests;
  • Developed school profiles;
  • ECD mapping and support commenced;
  • Launched a Grade 12 learner support program;
  • Initiated teacher development in ICT;
  • Enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity and distributed devices; and
  • Infrastructure refurbishment is in progress.

The AASA Education Programme under Azwindini Masia's leadership is a shining example of how dedication, strategic planning, and community involvement can make a lasting impact on education and, ultimately, the future of countless children in historically disadvantaged communities. “Through the AASA Education Programme, De Beers is not just mining diamonds; they're also mining opportunities for a brighter future,” concludes Azwindini.

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