The team from Air Products was dressed brightly by the Magcekeni Primary School before the unveiling of the preschool to show their gratitude. L – R: Sizwe Nkonde, Mpumelelo Makhubela (Principal), Councillor Ngomane (Nkomazi Municipality), Josua le Roux, Karen McDonald and Mandla Mashazi
Air Products’ main strategic corporate social investment (CSI) focus is on youth and education in South Africa and they have once again highlighted their
commitment to make a difference in the lives of learners with the unveiling of a preschool at the Magcekeni Preschool in Mzinti, Malelane.
Air Products’ relationship with the Magcekeni Primary School dates back a number of years and the Company has made numerous contributions towards improved infrastructure and
education at the school. Some of the previous projects included the building of classrooms and the donation of computers for the computer centre where learners from Grade 1
are exposed to working on computers and conducting research. The building of the preschool, which is the most recent project, was a gradual process which started two years ago, and recently completed.
The preschool has been designed in such a way that it can comfortably accommodate 80 learners. The building consists of four classrooms and is wheelchair friendly to make provision for disabled learners and teachers.
According to Air Products Chairman of the CSI Committee, Josua Le Roux, they would like to highlight the importance of early childhood development (ECD) in the country and with the
unveiling of the preschool, they are hoping that the learners from the Magcekeni Primary School, and greater community, will realise the importance of quality education from a young age.
Le Roux further comments on their involvement in the area: “Air Products was informed of the needs of the Magcekeni School a number of years ago, and we did not hesitate to
become involved and make a difference in the lives of the teachers and the learners. In 2006 we funded a classroom, and this year, we have built a preschool. The building was highlighted
as a dire need for the school, and as we have established a relationship with the school over the years, we could not turn a blind eye to what was needed to improve the level of education
from a young age“.
With the unveiling of the building, Air Products is hoping to convey a strong message to the all of the learners at the school: “We believe in you and your potential – your life full of promises
starts here”, says Le Roux.
As an extension of their involvement at the Magcekeni Primary School, Air Products has also been involved with the Tikhuni High School in the same area over the last few years.
The top 10 Maths and Science learners in Grade 11 and 12 have visited Air Products’ facilities in Kempton Park and Vanderbijlpark over the last two year to experience ‘science in action’.
Science kits were donated to the school which have already been put to good use.
Air Products embarked on a national CSI project, called WitnessHappiness in 2014. With this project, each of the Air Products facilities had to find an early childhood development (ECD) centre
in their area to which they committed for a period of 3 years.
The project has been designed in such a way that the employees at the facilities can form a relationship with the ECD and make an impact at different levels as they are able to visit the
centres on specific days, based on the annual events schedule. These generally include Literacy Day and Maths Day and on these days, the centres are visited and receive
education-related items, such as reading charts, books and educational maths toys. At the end of the year, each facility hosts a year-end party for the teachers and learners and Air Products
employees who are interested to join are also invited to attend. Besides the educational tools, Air Products has also invested a substantial amount on infrastructure improvements at some of the centres.
Le Roux concludes: “As as one of the leading gas companies in South Africa, we are grateful for the opportunities we have had to grow our business and this is our way of giving back to
the country. In our day-to-day business we aim to provide service that delivers the difference. With this CSI initiative in particular it is simple – we aim to make a difference to young learners
and their community”.