Reaching for the stars in South Africa
More than 1,200 schoolchildren in South Africa have joined a Lindéngruppen-sponsored project to inspire personal achievement and curb the spread of HIV and AIDS.
20
March
2013

Pupils at Eketsang Secondary School near Johannesburg are taking part in a three-year programme to equip them with life skills and encourage them to realise their dreams and aspirations.

The project, run by the Swedish Star for Life organisation and funded by Lindéngruppen, promotes awareness to help tackle HIV and AIDS.

HIV/AIDS infection is an acute public health threat in South Africa, affecting around 11 percent of the population.

Knowledge and skills

Star for Life brings together students, teachers and coaches to empower pupils with skills, knowledge and education to help them overcome social challenges.

"If teenagers want to go for their dreams, they have to stay healthy. That means steering clear of HIV," said Star for Life secretary-general Sam Olofsson.

Prevention programmes like those run by Star for Life play a vital role in South Africa's fight against HIV/AIDS.

They have been credited by the United Nations programme UNAIDS with playing a major role in helping to cut the rate of new HIV infections by 41 percent between 2001 and 2011.

Children at Lindéngruppen's sponsor school Eketsang, near Johannesburg.

Changing behaviour

Star for Life trains school administrators, teachers and coaches to build students' self-esteem and encourage them to pursue their dreams.

Coaches receive one-to-one training and use workshops to work with pupils.

"Just providing information is not enough to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS. You need to change behaviour, and you do that by building self-esteem," Sam Olofsson said.

Eketsang Secondary School is a state school selected to participate in the Star for Life project by South Africa's Department of Education.

Helping 100,000 children since 2005

Launched in 2005, Star for Life has 100,000 pupils in South Africa and Namibia and has seen major turnarounds in many of its schools. Ninety schools are currently running Star for Life programmes.

Olofsson explained that independent monitoring and evaluation by the University of Cape Town had demonstrated that schools operating Star for Life programmes had higher self-esteem among students and also higher levels of academic achievement.

"We can see that we are making a real turnaround. It's because Star for Life has its origins in the business community, where people are very interested in results. It's important to show we're really making a difference."

Three years of funding

Lindéngruppen has committed to sponsor Eketsang Secondary School to the tune of SEK 600,000 (€72,000) over three years.

"We at Lindéngruppen and Beckers Group believe we have a responsibility to give back and support communities that are in need, locally and globally," said Boris Gorella, CEO of Lindéngruppen's wholly-owned subsidiary Beckers Group.

"We believe that everyone should be given the chance to reach their full potential and that education for young people is the key to a better future."