Throughout his life, ex President Mandela has held education close to his heart. The dignity of a society is a reflection of its system of public education, and especially the quality of education it provides to its most vulnerable citizens.
In his 'leisure time' as President, Mr. Mandela worked with leaders of the private sector to build schools in rural areas. More than 140 rural schools were built in his name. After a few years, most of these schools joined the ranks of other poor and rural public schools. The teaching and learning project collapsed. Solid infrastructure is important, but it is not enough to create a vibrant learning and teaching environment for children.
He saw this problem in South Africa, as well as other places beyond its border. He recognised that there were few institutes tightly aligned to the needs and realities of rural learners, teachers and parents, to support them to build a sustainable system of quality education over time.
In 2007 he launched the Nelson Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development, based at his alma matre, the University of Fort Hare, based in the rural Eastern Cape. His vision was to build a world renowned centre for rural teacher development, based on solid applied research.
The Nelson Mandela Institute is a small, hard working organisation working alongside rural learners, teachers and their parents to create sustainable solutions to quality education serving all of our children.