M. Mahlomaholo

University of the Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
The challenges facing our education both in South Africa and the world over are immense. To date strategies to improve teaching and learning have focused on the activities of the teachers and the learners in the classrooms. Occasionally there is a cursory look at the roles which the parents and the families play in enhancing learner performance. In this paper I extend the boundaries beyond the classroom to involve an income generating initiative called the Financial Services Cooperative to demonstrate how in pursuance of the economic goals, such a platform, at the same time enhances effective learning among participating children and adults in a sustainable manner. Research shows that for a Financial Services Cooperative to function effectively all members have to “… demonstrate the ability to develop new methods, techniques, processes, systems or technologies in original, creative and innovative ways appropriate to…” the core business of the cooperative which include economic, social and cultural development of all members. In pursuance of these objectives the Financial Services Cooperative in Manyatseng embarked on a strategic initiative where in a participatory action research approach we collectively put together the vision and mission statements around which we reflected on our individual and collective strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to actualise them. Then we worked out a strategic plan which we also implemented over a period of six months. In this paper, therefore I document processes we embarked upon to operationalise this strategic plan which at the same time resulted in better informed members (adults and children). However in this paper I focus on the children as learners to show how their academic performance in their respective subjects at school improved as a result of their engagement with the Cooperative. The Cooperative had provided them with the opportunities to put the knowledge they acquired at school to real practice in responding to real life problems. They had to read extensively on - for example; organising economic, social and cultural events and activities - but they at the same time they had to implement this newly acquired knowledge and see to it that it produced the required results.