A quality, alternative school curriculum is a positive step for South African education

23 January 2024

Sedick Abrahams, Credit Analyst at Sanlam Investments.

For most learners and parents or guardians, the start of the academic year brings excitement, hope and new beginnings in South Africa. However, the costs of curriculum, plus expensive uniforms, stationery and kit can be daunting. In both the private and public sector, the investment is significant enough to warrant that the quality of education a child receives in the school year, should never be in question – not least because the education of future generations inevitably impacts the future of our country. It’s crucial that children have access to quality education to foster employability, locally as well as in a global arena.

Yet questions do arise, in both public and private academic settings. Recent matriculation pass rates are an indication of this – there are equally successful and unsuccessful schools in all spheres – rural government schools, independent schools, established public schools and private schools alike. What is missing is consistency and guarantees of a sound tertiary learning opportunity. And, in the latest Progress for International Reading Literacy study, 81% of South African grade four children couldn’t read for meaning.  

So accessibility to tried-and-tested options, world-class education that prepares learners for both stellar contributions to the local economy, and a globally recognised experience, is essential. The Cambridge curriculum is one such option.

The Cambridge educational offering has proven to be outstanding in shaping young leaders. The model is internationally benchmarked, with a focus on academic literacy and myriad pathways for participants to qualify for post-graduate studies. Internationally recognised for rigour and high academic standards, developed and maintained by the University of Cambridge, it can give learners a competitive edge, particularly in higher education.

We want more young people to be able to access this curriculum and the lifetime opportunities that accompany it.

This is why Sanlam Investments’ Alternatives business has invested in Nova Pioneer South Africa (Nova Pioneer), a trailblazing educational institution dedicated to transforming the education landscape in South Africa and across the continent.

Nova Pioneer offers a unique yet affordable Cambridge International curriculum, providing students with an alternative, world-class learning experience that emphasises critical thinking, problem-solving, and character development. Nova Pioneer augments that core curriculum with a unique innovation and leadership programme, a Post-School Success programme and social emotional learning supports available to all its students.  The institution has a proven track record of success, with 15 schools across South Africa and Kenya, and has consistently opened two new schools each year since its inception in 2015.

Nova Pioneer’s innovative model and commitment to academic excellence align perfectly with Sanlam Investments’ values and commitment to investing in the future of education as part of our north star to empower all Africans to be financially confident, secure and prosperous.

By contributing specifically toward working capital, we’re also empowering Nova Pioneer to focus on job creation. This is a critical pillar in our country, which currently has an unemployment ratio of 31.9%.

But this partnership and investment are key to our and Nova Pioneer’s aims of expanding reach and contribution to the education sector. Headed by Chinezi Chijioke, the group seeks to serve as pioneers of excellent 21st century education across South Africa and the continent. The vision – to build a better future for generations to come.  

  • As part of its Private Debt Fund investments, Sanlam Investments will support Nova Pioneer with R40 million towards its working capital to support job creation and enable the institute to scale to 28 schools by 2028. The investment in Nova Pioneer is part of the Sanlam Investments’ Alternatives business broader strategy to fund innovative companies that are making a positive, measurable impact on people’s lives.  


Sanlam Investments consists of the following authorised Financial Services Providers: Sanlam Investment Management (Pty) Ltd (“SIM”), Sanlam Multi Manager International (Pty) Ltd (“SMMI”), Satrix Managers (RF) (Pty) Ltd, Graviton Wealth Management (Pty) Ltd (“GWM”), Graviton Financial Partners (Pty) Ltd (“GFP”), Satrix Investments (Pty) Ltd, Amplify Investment Partners (Pty) Ltd (“Amplify”), Sanlam Africa Real Estate Advisor Pty Ltd (“SAREA”), Simeka Wealth (Pty) Ltd and Absa Alternative Asset Management (Pty) Ltd (“AAM”); and has the following approved Management Companies under the Collective Investment Schemes Control Act: Sanlam Collective Investments (RF) (Pty) Ltd (“SCI”), Satrix Managers (RF) (Pty) Ltd (“Satrix”) and Absa Fund Managers (RF) (Pty) Ltd. Sanlam is a full member of ASISA. Please note that past performances are not necessarily an accurate determination of future performances, and that the value of investments/collective investment units/unit trusts may go down as well as up.

The information in this article does not constitute financial advice.  While every effort has been made to ensure the reasonableness and accuracy of the information contained in this document (“the information”), the FSP, their shareholders, subsidiaries, clients, agents, officers and employees do not make any representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or suitability of the information and shall not be held responsible and disclaims all liability for any loss, liability and damage whatsoever suffered as a result of or which may be attributable, directly or indirectly, to any use of or reliance upon the information.

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