Long-standing Zenex Foundation Trustee and South African business and civil society leader, Thandi Orleyn is the new Chair of the Zenex Foundation. She assumed the role in October 2015, succeeding Mr Sizwe Nxasana, who will continue serving on the Board as a Trustee.

Thandi has been a Zenex Trustee since 1997 and has played a central role in providing strategic guidance to the work and programmes of the Foundation over the past 19 years. Her legal and business career of over 30 years spans the Legal Resources Centre, National Director of both the Independent Mediation Service of SA (IMSSA) and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), and senior partner at the commercial law firm, Routledge Modise (presently known as Hogan Lovells (SA) Inc.).

An executive director and shareholder at Peotona Group Holdings, Thandi is also involved in various community initiatives, including chairing the Legal Resources Trust, Ceramic Foundation, De Beers Fund and the Fort Hare University Council, and now the Zenex Foundation.

A stalwart of transformation and empowerment, Thandi will continue to play a strategic role in spearheading the Foundation in its mission to work in partnership with Government, donors, NGOs, researchers and schools towards improving education outcomes in South Africa. This bodes well for the Foundation as it accelerates its efforts to share evidence-based lessons learnt from independent research and evaluations to contribute to knowledge and capacity in the sector.

October 5th is National Teachers’ Day. The Zenex Foundation honours and celebrates teachers throughout October and beyond, profiling stories of passion and achievement – sometimes against all odds.

The Zenex Foundation has funded an innovative on-line resource developed by Bridge to help learners, teachers, career advisors and parents when it comes to decisions about getting into further study or employment after school.

The map can be accessed on this link.


The Zenex Foundation has a keen interest in the areas of literacy and reading. The Foundation supports initiatives designed to innovate, research and test system level application to improve outcomes in education. These have been shared in a wide range of forums. A panel arranged by the Zenex Foundation, presented an aspect of Zenex’s research and interventions in literacy and language development. The presentations shared insights emerging from programmes in home language and first additional language interventions on reading to learn in the later grades. 

Many South African children complete Grades 1 - 3 without being able to read properly in their home language. Recent research confirms that this reality not only impacts on literacy and language development, but also on Mathematics and Science performance.

The Foundation hosted a Conference and Appreciation Event at Durban’s Elangeni and Maharani Hotel on 19 August 2016 to mark the end of the Zenex Learner Support Programme which has been rolled out since 2005. The Programme comprises the ISASA M&E Project and the Inkanyezi Project, which are fielding the last cohort of Grade 12 learners in 2016. The Conference was attended by over 120 individuals from the project schools and their peer and neighbouring schools from across the country, as well as district representatives from various education districts in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Zenex Foundation wishes all the schools and learners participating in the National Schools Festival a fun, creative and insightful week ahead.

The Zenex Foundation has been a proud partner of Grahamstown National Schools Festival for the past 8 years. We are honoured to have built a mutually rewarding partnership which promotes the arts curriculum in schools. We recognise the role played by poetry, art, drama and song in cultivating a love for language and enriching exposure to reading and writing resources.

The Zenex Foundation initiated a Legacy Scholarship Project in 2015 as part of commemorating the Foundation’s 20th anniversary. The Project falls under the Foundation’s Sector Strengthening Programme, which has the overall objective of building the capacity of key strategic elements of the education support sector. To this end, the Scholarship Project focuses on addressing the problem of scarce skills in Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E), as well as education research, through the development of Black evaluators and researchers. This area of support is particularly important in the context of an increasing interest in evidence-based approaches to education policy and practices.

Zenex has been involved in M & E and education research for more than 15 years. Through its experiences, it has become clear that there are very few evaluation experts and even fewer Black evaluators and researchers working in the field of education. As such, the Foundation initiated a two-pronged capacity building Scholarship Project to contribute towards building capacity in these areas.

The Zenex Foundation celebrated 20 years of education contribution at a gala dinner at Turbine Hall in Newtown, Johannesburg on the 22 October 2015. We were honoured to have the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga as the keynote speaker. Guests included senior government officials of the Department of Basic Education; donors; NGOs; researchers/academics, as well as school principals, teachers and learners from various Zenex programmes.

The Minister highlighted the enormous challenges that we face in education and that these challenges can only be addressed through collaboration between the various education stakeholders. She acknowledged the partnership with the Zenex Foundation on various initiatives.

The Zenex Foudantion was proud to hand over a complete set of Vula Bula African Language readers developed in partnership with Molteno, to the Minister. The Vula Bula series is available as Open Education Resources and this is a significant contribution to promote literacy in the country.

See image gallery for some of the moments captured at the gala dinner.

The Zenex Foundation hosted two events to reflect on 20 years of involvement in education. The events took place in KwaZulu-Natal on 10 September 2015 and in the Western Cape on 1 October 2015. The purpose of the events was to engage education stakeholders on issues related to Mathematics, Science and language education. The stakeholders provided perspectives from government, NGOs, donors, academics/researchers as well as school principals, teachers and learners. The events had three components: insights from experts, lessons from Zenex and a dialogue with education stakeholders on unlocking challenges in Mathematics, Science and language education in South Africa.

Speaker profiles and presentations, illustrations capturing key points from the dialogue as well as photographs are available on the links below.

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