The Jakes Gerwel Entrepreneurial School
By Weltevrede Wine Estate
A vision was dropped in the hearts of the people from Bonnievale. Philip Jonker, owner at Weltevrede Wine Estate subsequently formed the JGE Funding Trust to pursue the vision to heal their community by creating the Jakes Gerwel Entrepreneurial School, a modern two-stream technical school with cutting edge e-learning facilities with a master plan for 1200 learners. Prof Jakes Gerwel was a resilient mediator and peacemaker and the wonderful unity of this team of different backgrounds would have made him proud. Although diverse, the common denominator in them all is a positive transformative spirit to heal South Africa from community level, from its roots.
Most learners from Bonnievale come from under-resourced backgrounds, fatherless homes and broken family structures. Secure character is what made Prof Jakes Gerwel a world changer behind the scenes and apt role model. In this school, the first priority is to invest in the character of the learners.
The trust was determined that this vision not only accommodate the numbers of the poor, but for it to be for a high school of excellence in a 12-hectare (donated by Weltervrede Wine Estate), spacious campus-like atmosphere, with top facilities and inspirational leadership, to heal a total community from a legacy and lifestyle of brokenness and lacking self-worth.
The JGE Funding Trust collaborated with the Western Cape Education Department who funds 40% of the establishment cost and finances the majority of educators. Yet R55 million Rand had to be found from the community and private sector, and the three trustees were tasked to not only raise the funds, but also to manage the building project and to commit to help govern the school in the long run. Added to a long list of practical impossibilities, was the fact that there was a timeline set of less than two years before the school had to be operational. In faith, the team took up the challenge.
In awe-inspiring harmony, the whole community worked together to change their future. By the end of June 2017, the team had raised more than R39m, mainly in the form of local contributions and free or discounted professional services.
The Jakes Gerwel Entrepreneurial School is currently being constructed and an amazing vision is swiftly becoming a reality. The doors of JGE open in January 2018. Amongst the many initial comments of ‘But this can’t be done’ and ‘Impossible’ and ‘You are crazy’, the team was yet to meet the person who has not received this vision with great positivity. In retrospect, all the seemingly impossible factors will simply give depth to this beautiful story of hope.
“Vision sparks hope. Positivity is infectious. Sacrifice is inspirational. When we lead with a can-do attitude and show our commitment by personal sacrifice others will follow,” shared Philip Jonker.