About us

Welcome to Education for Democracy in South Africa

EDSA is a small West Oxford based charity which has been in existence since 1989 including during the desperate years of apartheid in South Africa. EDSA developed through a strong link with educationalists working within the Cape Town area, who were striving to ensure that as many disadvantaged black South Africans as possible had access to education and training. This is as important today as it was when EDSA first started to work in partnership with SA projects.

In those early years much of our work was to fundraise to support students through a bursary system. This allowed a small number of students to pursue further training under extreme circumstances in the hope that they would one day be able to take their part in developing democratic processes in their country.

The apartheid education system was deliberately structured to ensure that black people would not be able to compete with their white compatriots on the job market. The grim consequences are evident everywhere in the new South Africa which is committed to providing equal opportunities for all, but through lack of education the overwhelming majority of black people are still excluded from meaningful participation in the economic life of the country, and the economy itself is still suffering an acute shortage of skilled workers.Completing a map work assignment at Winter SchoolCompleting a map work assignment at Winter School  Wages outside the white community are still incredibly low as demonstrated by recent unrest within the mining area which is now spreading into the rural farming communities.

For many years EDSA worked with a partner in Cape Town, ASSET (the Association for Educational Transformation) which recognised the need to work more intensively to support the main stream school system. They began their now renowned programme of Saturday schools and holiday workshops in the 80s, before apartheid ended, and these programmes continue to make an enormous difference to the pass rate of participating students. It is an ongoing fact that those students achieving top marks in the matriculation examination at the end of each year will have attended the ASSET/EDSA programmes.  The substantial funding EDSA was once able to give to ASSET is not available at the moment however we are in touch with their Director and will continue to give support in small ways when possible.  ASSET does however manage a bursary scheme which we are delighted that students from the rural areas are now accessing with support from EDSA.

EDSA has also had partnerships with other small South African NGOs (non governmental organisations) some of whom we have encouraged to get off the ground. SAMLA was a township based mobie library project which ran for about 7 years and was based in Guguletu near to Cape Town.  This project found it extremely difficult to find a management committee from within the township.  Eventually it has been left to stand on its own and EDSA is hopeful that something will continue from the exellent work of the past. 

EDSA's focus for support at the moment, both financially and through advice and guidance is to a rural township project called Net Vir Pret in the Overberg area of the Western Cape.  Please read project report- Net Vir Pret - for more details of what is happening in Net vir Pret.

Over past years EDSA has received funding from a number of key UK agencies who have all been very supportive of the work in South Africa, including Comic Relief and Jephcott Foundation, The Burton Trust and many others.

EDSA Patrons are: Professor Tim Brighouse; J M Coetzee; Fairport Convention; The Rt Revd and Rt Hon.The Lord Harries of Pentregarth; Sir Anthony Sher and Janet Suzman.

The EDSA Trustees are: Ann Harries Brown (Chair and founding Trustee); Ann Applegate; John Applegate and Professor Gary Lock (Treasurer); Judy Brown and Ceri Thomson.

EDSA has a "Friends of EDSA group" which interested people are asked to join. The Director for EDSA is Judy Brown.

EDSA is Registered Charity No 1003795.