This trust was started by Mamokgethi Phakeng in February 2004 at Thuto-Thebe Middle school, in Ga-Rankuwa. She selected this school as a starting point because it is where she completed her Grade 8 and 9 in 1980. The school currently caters for learners from low socio-economic backgrounds, most of whom are from families in which either one or both of the parents are blind and are either unemployed or working at the local institute for the blind.
Mamokgethi who herself went to school in Marapyane village, Ga-Rankuwa township and Hebron village became the first black South African to obtain a PhD in Mathematics education in 2002. When asked about adopt-a-learner “I started this trust because while I was the first to obtain a PhD in mathematics education, I do not want to be the last.”
During the period 2004 – 2007 she visited the school regularly to give support and work with the mathematics teachers on their teaching. During her visits she would teach mathematics to model pedagogies that she believes create equitable and enabling environments in multilingual classrooms. When she taught a class the mathematics teachers in the school were invited to observe and this created an opportunity to talk about the quality of mathematics teaching in an open manner.
The first group of learners who were adopted were selected on the basis of their performance in a mathematics challenge that she gave to them. Since then the number of learners who are receiving sponsorship has grown.
Mamokgethi does not actively raise funds for Adopt-a-learner, however, whenever she is invited to give talks she requests her hosts to make a contribution to the trust. At the beginning of the trust she contributed a lump sum to the trust so that she can open a bank account. In addition to her, a few other people assisted with contributions at the beginning: Ms. Shosho Mmutlana, Dr. N Bhengu and Dr. Ramotholo Sefako. Both Shosho Mmutlana and Dr Sefako continue to make contributions to date. Ms Segametsi Songwane made contributions during 2010 and 2011 when she learned about the trust. The money is used to pay for school fees as well as any other educational needs (e.g. laptops) that the adopted learners may have.
Between 2004 and 2006 Mrs Matlakala Sefora, who was a mathematics teacher at Thuto-thebe middle school, acted as co-ordinator of the trust and when she resigned from the school Mamokgethi appointed Mr Joshua Mpete to take over the co-ordination of the trust at Thuto-thebe. The role of the co-ordinator is to support the learners in their school work and also to monitor their progress and prepare reports on their progress. The manager also ensures that the learners’ educational needs are catered for.
In 2011 the school Thuto-thebe was closed down and the learners were moved to LG Holele secondary school where Mr Joshua Mpete was appointed as Principal. As a result of this Adopt-a-learner moved to LG Holele Secondary School and continued to support learners from there. A group of university students taught and/or supervised by Mamokgethi visit the school every year to teach mathematics and science to the learners at the school.
The Trustees are: