The Jakes Gerwel Fellowship is an independent and aspirational initiative birthed out of Allan Gray Orbis Foundation’s Endowment. As a premium scholarship provider, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation has close, country-wide contact with school principals and teachers in identifying South Africa’s brightest young entrepreneurial talent. This extensive engagement revealed a consistent and haunting plea: “Where will South Africa’s next generation of teaching talent come from?”
Over time, there was a dawning realisation that Allan Gray Orbis Foundation had a moral imperative to respond to this call to action. A long-term commitment was needed to address both the educational and entrepreneurial dimensions of our society in enhancing our country’s transformational capacity. There was also the recognition that no education system can ever supersede the capacity of its teachers and this was where the response had to lie.
In April 2017, the Board of Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Endowment gave the commitment to create the Jakes Gerwel Fellowship to honour the legacy of a true high impact teacher who was also the Foundation’s inaugural Chairperson and a close confident to former President Nelson Mandela.
The quality of teachers is a seminal and binding constraint for truly unlocking human potential that the success of South Africa’s young democracy is so dependent on. To support this, what is needed is for the classroom to be seen for the vehicle of change. In short, we want to make the strongest possible case and provide the greatest possible support for our best students to become our best teachers.
The Jakes Gerwel Fellowship is committed to creating this pipeline of future, high impact teachers. These are individuals who through purposely following their passion for subjects in which they achieve subject mastery, can become tomorrow’s expert teachers. As expert teachers, Jakes Gerwel Fellows are encouraged to also follow leadership and entrepreneurial paths within the teaching field so that in a collaborative manner, they are compelled to solving some of the biggest obstacles that currently characterise our education system.