Facing the Challenges to Build a More Harmonious South Africa

“I believe that every child has the right to choices beyond those defined by their context and that through education we can grow agency in young people, equipping them to make informed decisions and to choose sustainable career paths. However, in South Africa, education is a commodity that can be purchased; those who have wealth can get a good education, whilst the poor are left with little choice and no chance of escaping the vicious cycles of poverty. Commodified education, therefore, perpetuates injustices suffered by the poor and marginalised. I am committed to building a movement of people working together to overcome this injustice.”

Engaging in the Process of Change

“That’s exactly why Laura Singh and I started Outliers, a movement of people working together to empower the youth in disadvantaged communities. Together with people who are passionate about responding to the under-education of students in disadvantaged communities, we are building a movement of people providing access to quality, free education in safe spaces across the city. Building and using our social connections, we are providing training, resources, and access to opportunities for our programs.”

“We are committed to helping our partners fulfil their visions by supporting them as best we can. We firmly believe that each of our partners knows what works best in their context and our support of them is guided by their expressed needs. We help our partners run after-school programs by mentoring them as they create safe spaces for learning, mobilizing resources and training tutors to provide free academic support. We also try to increase access to mentors and opportunities for career development by building support networks.”

Taking the Lead on The Way Forward

“We value building relationships in communities over the implementation of models that impose cookie-cutter solutions. We also value working with others who share good community development principles and practices, valuing the child for who they are now and for the contribution they are able to make to society right now, not only in the future. These core values shape our mission which is to increase access to quality education through after-school programs by helping start new after-school programs and supporting ones that already exist.”

More about Heidi Segal

“My reason for doing what I do is deeply rooted in who I am and my circle of influence. It is informed by my personal story and spaces that I occupy. Growing up during the student uprisings of the 1980s set a turbulent backdrop to my education throughout high school. But I was blessed with a happy, functional family, and am well-aware of how these factors contributed to me being able to graduate with a PhD in 1998 and eventually run a medical research group at the University of Cape Town for a number of years. However, in 2009, after observing the continual lack of suitable black candidates applying for postgraduate study in the Faculty of Health Sciences, I decided, against all expectations, to leave UCT and do something about it. Since then, I have been building a movement of people working together to help students access free quality education.”