Training & jobs for 90 unskilled African women

by SA College for Tourism
The graduating class of 2015
The graduating class of 2015

SA College for Tourism ended its Crystal Anniversary Year on a high note on Friday morning, 20th November, when it celebrated the graduation of 89 young women from rural southern Africa with national certificates in hospitality services. The celebrations kicked off the night before with a dinner hosted by Mrs Gaynor Rupert, Chairperson of the college company for her guests who were addressed by His Excellency Marcus Cornaro the Head of the European Union Delegation to South Africa.  Ambassador Cornaro attended the graduation celebrations with Mrs Cornaro and the  Deputy Head of his delegation, Ms  Sofia Moreira de Sousa.  

Guests were welcomed to the graduation ceremony by Mrs Gaynor Rupert, Chairperson of the college company. Congratulating Team SACT on achieving this milestone, Mrs Rupert paid tribute to the donors, supporters and friends of the college and thanked them for making it possible for the college to go from strength to strength year after year.

Ms Minnie Dlamini, one of South Africa’s most up and coming TV personalities and who is said to have the largest Twitter and Facebook following among young people in the country, delivered the keynote address. Minnie congratulated the young women and men on having taken the risk to come to the college to study and to better their lives. This she said boded well for success in future.

Mrs Anu Saxen, Deputy Head of Mission of Finland which has been supporting SA College for Tourism for half a decade, brought the day’s proceedings to an end with her closing remarks, encouraging fellow donors and supporters to continue to support the college and wishing the graduates the very best in their future endeavours.

A special touch to the celebrations was a personal message to all involved with SA College for Tourism and to this year’s graduates from HRH Prince Irene of the Netherlands.







Candle light tribute for Nelson Mandela
Candle light tribute for Nelson Mandela

July was a quiet month at the hospitality training division of the SA College for Tourism with most of the students on mid-year break. The second semester training commenced again on 20 July.

A highlight for the ladies was the visit by a large group of motorcyclists from Mandela Foundation in Graaff-Reinet. “Bikers for Mandela Foundation” was founded by Dr Nelson Mandela’s former personal assistant Zelda la Grange and as part of their response to Dr Mandela's call to action for people everywhere to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place. The bikers travelled to George and Beaufort West where they kick-started a community development project for the poor in each town on the 16th and 17th of July. This was their 5th annual Mandela Day celebration road tour.

On Saturday, 18 July, the bikers overnighted at Drostdy Hotel where a candle light tribute was held for Madiba on the steps leading to the hotel. Students of the College, joined by the SA Police Academy choir, sang an African prayer at the start of the proceedings and later teamed up with well-known South African singer and songwriter, Karen Zoid, entertaining a large crowd who had gathered in celebration of Dr Mandela's life.

Ms La Grange who delivered the tribute, advocated greater awareness of the abuse against women and children prevalent in South Africa and urged the town to join hands to protect each and every woman and child in Graaff-Reinet.

The students left the event contemplating: “What can I do to make every day, a Mandela day.”

Culinary training at SACT
Culinary training at SACT

Unemployment rates continue to be a critical concern across South Africa. Youths comprise the majority of the unemployed and many lack marketable skills and experience to enter the job market and find meaningful employment. The demographic worst affected is young rural African women.

The SA College for Tourism since its inception in 2001 has facilitated nationally accredited hospitality and life skills training for unskilled, unemployed, young African women aged between 18-35 years annually. On completion of the course, graduates are placed in paid internships/employment in small accommodation establishments and guest lodges linked to eco-tourism.

Seventy two young South African women arrived in Graaff-Reinet, South Africa between 16 and 18 January 2015 to commence their hospitality service training at the SA College for Tourism. They were joined in the two weeks following by fourteen students from Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

Orientation Week commenced on 19 January  and formal training for the 86 members of the hospitality training Class of 2015 commenced on 2 February.

On 3 March students performed practical duty at the local Police Academy working as ushers and waiters for a formal dinner function attended by senior government officials and politicians. Two days later the Learner Committee was elected. On 28 March the students assisted in preparing a three course buffet meal which they served to 70 wedding guests. A very busy start to the year!

We are happy to announce that sixty five of the 89 young women who graduated in November 2014 have been successfully deployed in the hospitality industry with a further 19 taking up internships with South African National Parks Board in April. Thus making the deployment rate to date more than 95%! An incredible achievement.

The SA College for Tourism thanks all its donors for their magnificent support, without which none of the College’s achievements would be possible.

Class of 2014
Class of 2014

Over the weekend of 17th January 2014, 76 six young women from 8 of the provinces of South Africa joined 16 recruits from other member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at the Graaff-Reinet campus of SA College for Tourism (SACT) for hospitality service training. Among the foreign students were nationals of Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe while the South Africans came to the College from the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape, Free State, KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West. 

The 2014 training year culminated on 28th November with 89 of the young women graduating at SACT. A highlight of the year included an agreement reached with the Drostdy, a newly opened 5 star boutique hotel in Graaff-Reinet, to accept a minimum 35 graduates of the College in learnership each year which will bring the deployment rate of graduates close to the 100% mark, a remarkable feat for any training institution. Other highlights  included a new training program on a higher qualification level added to the training scope of the College which increased the number of women in training by the College to 120 per annum, a new trainer and training support members appointed to meet the demands of the new programme and yet another flawless outcome to an audit conducted of the College and its work by the education and training authorities of South Africa.

We thank all our donors for supporting capacity building through skills development and channeling opportunities for industry related experience and employment to these women. Your support has empowered them to lead active, productive and successful lives, counteract inequality and positively impact the lives of generations to come.

SA Deputy Minister of Tourism, Ms Tokozile Xasa
SA Deputy Minister of Tourism, Ms Tokozile Xasa

Inspiring life after college

The South African College of Tourism was recently visited by the South African Deputy Minister of Tourism, Ms Tokozile Xasa, to spread the message of equality of women and inspire our graduates in training. In the wake of South Africa signing up for the UN International Woman’s Day Commemoration, this year entitled, Equality for Woman is Progress for All: Inspiring Change, Ms Xasa spoke to this theme, as it is the focus of the College's training programme.

Deputy-Minister Xasa encouraged the students to make the most of the wonderful opportunity afforded to them by the College. Like Dr Anton Rupert, who founded the College, she firmly believes in the famous words: educate a woman and you educate a nation.

The Deputy Minister of Tourism - as the sixth of seven siblings who was raised by a single mother, and then from the age of 10  by family members when her mother passed away -  said that the education the students were receiving would  serve as a very powerful weapon in their quest to escape deprived backgrounds.

Her advice to the students was to not think of themselves as just waitresses or chefs, but as entrepreneurs in the making.

The inspirational story of one of the 2012 graduates, Bwalya, as enthusiastically shared by her, clearly mirrors this sentiment:

“Since leaving the college in 2012 with not just my certificate but also an award in front office, life has been amazing as each year progresses.

In February 2013, I started to work for a tour operator firm till May when I applied for an unpaid internship in the front office department at Intercontinental Hotel Lusaka - a 5 star hotel where I worked to the best of my abilities. I gave it a 101 % effort.

Upon completion, I stayed home for a month before being called back to the hotel for a job interview for the club lounge (VIP lounge) attendant position, of which I was successful. I worked directly under the front office manager for an exact period of one year. With all the skills I learnt from the college, I managed to work well in my job. Mrs. Willemse taught me well to be courteous and Mr Knoetze taught me excellent food and beverage services. I set up for breakfast week after week on my own and handled the bar on my own too.  Chef Albert’s lessons came in handy when the chef was too busy; I was able to help out with the omelets J with ease. And of course Mr. van der Westhuizen taught me to work in a clean environment.

Moving on, June 2014 brought even greater things for me. I am currently working for Zambia’s largest electricity company, ZESCO, as a national call center agent under customer services.

Thank you so much SACT for the great professional skills I learnt from you. I am forever grateful for the opportunity you gave me to study with you. I hope that maybe one day, the college will offer degree programs. GOD BLESS YOU”.

With hard work, determination and the empowering training offered at the SA College of Tourism, graduates like Bwalya have the best chance of creating a sustainable future. Thank you to all the friends and supporters of the college who make this mission possible. 

Bwalya at her graduation
Bwalya at her graduation
Bwalya today
Bwalya today


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Organization Information

SA College for Tourism

Location: Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​​Content_1050200000_SA+College+For+Tourism.htm
Project Leader:
Claire Binneman
Senior Fundraiser
Stellenbosch, Western Cape South Africa
$230 raised of $703,610 goal
8 donations
$703,380 to go
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