LOCAL businessman and chairman of Sibaya Vivian Reddy committed to Adopt-a-school Foundation to improve education in the province.At a gala dinner hosted last week at Sibaya Casino and Entertainment World, local businesses and partners pledged funding of R6-million to support the work of the foundation.Adopt-a-school Foundation chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa spoke passionately at the event of his journey to his former school and of the humble beginnings of the Foundation in 2001.Reddy said that Sibaya Corporate Social Investment (CSI) committee will participate in developing partnerships and programmes required to improve education in the region, citing the Matric Academic Development Initiative (MADI) which is at work in 11 high schools in Ilembe.Since the inception of the casino, the Sibaya CSI Committee and The Sibaya Community Trust have contributed over R50-million towards education initiatives benefitting schools in KwaZulu-Natal.“Increased collaboration between the private sector and local government is imperative for improving the quality education in our province, and ultimately driving future economic growth. Education is one of Sibaya’s key CSI focus areas. “Through our support of the Adopt-a-School Foundation and other initiatives such as the KZN Science Centre’s outreach programme, Sibaya remains committed to providing environments conducive to the practice of good learning for our province’s young people,” said Reddy.The Adopt-a-School Foundation works to mobilise the private sector, organisations and individuals to support the creation and enhancement of teaching and learning environments in disadvantaged schools. Emphasising their Whole School Development Model, the Foundation identifies schools in need and implements projects to improve academic, infrastructural, social and security environments. This includes encouraging a hands-on, time bound relationship between the schools and their funders. Ramaphosa started the Foundation shortly after he was approached by his former primary school, Tshilidzi Primary in Soweto, to assist with the donation of a fax machine. When he returned to his school to hand over the donation and saw the further needs of the school, the notion of the Adopt-a-School Foundation was born. In 2002, the Foundation was officially established by a group of concerned individuals including Ramaphosa and Dr James Motlatsi.Since inception, the Foundation has adopted 621 schools, directly benefitting 734 796 pupils; trained 2 542 teachers; built 509 school facilities; created 7 345 temporary jobs and supported 1182 SMMEs. There are 57 adopted schools in KZN. The Foundation recently launched its Health, Sanitation and Sexual Awareness campaign, which aims to keep girls in school.The Foundation is currently working with the government in KZN on their Accelerated School Infrastructure Development Initiative which aims to transform mud schools in to centres of excellence. The pilot schools for this are Ingweniphaphama Primary School; Enhlanhleni Primary School and Lembe Combined School.A portion of the R6-million in funding at the gala dinner at Sibaya will be used to ensure that learners in selected schools have their eyesight tested and provide those pupils with spectacles where needed.