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With more than 58 halls already built, the Archway Foundation reaffirms its dedication to disadvantaged schools.

In 10 years since its establishment, the Archway Foundation has built 58 school halls throughout the Western Cape, and the Board of Garden Cities is in for the long haul. Already, on its own and with collaboration from the Western Cape Education Department and other funders, the Archway has built halls to the total value of R224 million.  The programme will progress at the pace dictated by the availability of funds, but the company's CEO, John Matthews, who initiated the project, admits that this job needs the participation of others of like mind, in order to achieve a meaningful goal of reducing the shortfall of school halls in the medium and long term.

He chose this project and gained the willing participation of the Garden Cities' Board as a result of personal experience as a schoolboy in one of Cape Town's many schools deprived of such benefits as a safe place to congregate; benefits that in many other parts of the world are considered commonplace; benefits that make the difference between basic learning, and a holistic, creative, achievement-based education.

Over one million schoolchildren in the Western Cape still need school halls – there remains, as populations increase - a shortfall of more than 700. All the children are from disadvantaged communities. The Archway Foundation, a CSI initiative by 95-year-old housing developer Garden Cities, intends to provide as many of the halls as it can, using of its after-tax profit annually to plough into the project. Working alone, though, it could take more than 150 years for the Foundation to achieve its ultimate goal.

The project has the full co-operation of the Western Cape Education Department, and in increasing numbers, major companies have expressed willingness to contribute CSI funding to the efforts of the Archway Foundation. Increasing interest is needed to accelerate the delivery of these essential buildings in a way that will have an immediate effect on greater numbers of schoolchildren of the current generation.

"While we have made it our mission, as a Section 21 company, to provide the halls, with no expectation of any marketing benefits to us, it is not required that those who collaborate in the project should have similar motives. We are offering unrestricted participation for companies that have CSI funds they would like to see used in the most effective way. We believe they can take whatever benefits they need form the association, including their promotion of a positive perception in their marketplace that could translate into improved performance for their business," says Matthews.

"And it would of course be of benefit to the project if those who participated would help spread the word. We give an assurance that every cent employed is for the material cost of the halls. As our professional services and construction are to our cost alone."

Part of his motivation for establishing the Foundation is a belief that in order for young people to enjoy the freedom and equality bestowed by the constitutional changes that took place in the early 1990s, they have to have the means by which to exercise their rights. "One cannot just bestow freedom and equality, you have to create a climate in which they can thrive. Until they are put into practice, freedom and equality are just concepts."

Tel: (021) 558-7181

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