Global Reach: Grantee Partners

United Through Sport


The education system in South Africa is failing. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report (2016), the quality of the South African Education system is ranked 137th among 139 nations, with the quality of its maths and science education ranked 139. In a 2019 blog, Nicholas Spaull, an educational expert, summarised South Africa’s education problem in a few bullet points. These included the following: learning outcomes in South African schools improved until 2011 and are now stalling; the majority of teachers (80%) lack the content knowledge and pedagogical skill to teach the subjects they are currently teaching; of 100 learners that start school, approximately 50-60 will make it to matric, 40-50 will pass matric, and 14 will qualify for university entry, only 6 will get an undergraduate degree within 6 years; nationally representative surveys such as the 2016 Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study show that 78% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning in any of the 11 official South African languages; in the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study survey show that 61% of Grade 5 learners could not add and subtract whole numbers, have no understanding of multiplication by one-digit numbers and cannot solve simple word problems. There is significant disparity in educational quality and student performance in poorer, black South African townships and better-resourced suburban schools, ,as well as between provinces. In 2019, the Eastern Cape substantially improved its matric pass rate it ranks 7th out of 9 provinces.




United Through Sport is a South African-based NGO working with youth from disadvantaged backgrounds using the power of sport to improve education, raise health awareness and build life skills. In the past few years, affiliate organizations in Argentina, the Caribbean and Thailand began using UTS’ methodology. UTS provides increased educational opportunities, using a tiered sport-for-development program to 1) improve emotional well-being and increase life skills (teamwork, leadership, decision-making and communication); 2) discuss critical issues such as HIV/AIDS and gender equality in a fun and interactive manner on the sports field; and 3) equip at-risk youth in Port Elizabeth with the knowledge and skills to continue schooling, succeed in secondary school and go on to tertiary education or secure employment. UTS is one of few sports-focused co-ed organizations in South Africa that successfully engages girls and young women, maintaining a 50:50 gender split. UTS has strong, steady leadership, with Executive Director, Nick Mould, going into his 15th year. The majority of staff is female, including its first female General Manager under the age of 30, Nosipho (Spakes) Xapile.


Current Grant:

EMpower’s grant to UTS will support the Girls Unite program—to work with 70 girls (ages 10-14) to strengthen their knowledge and ability to protect their health and improve their resilience as well as their ability to write and speak English. It will also contribute to the organization's core costs..

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