A review of our activities to run a sustainable organisation and contribute to society in a meaningful way.

As part of our commitment to integrated sustainability management, we strive towards the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by aligning our business and brands specifically to quality education [4] where possible.

This report has been prepared with reference to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards. To guide and inform our decisions during the preparation of this report, we applied the principles and requirements contained within the South African Companies Act No 71 of 2008, JSE Listings Requirements and the King IV™ Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa 2016 (King IV™).

ADvTECH's foundations are built on providing academic excellence and the highest levels of service. Our intellectual capital, skills and most importantly, the calibre and quality of our people, are our greatest assets.

We therefore continuously invest in human capital with the intention of growing a sustainable business.


SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND THE EDUCATION SECTOR¹

The United Nations™ Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is one of the most ambitious and important global agreements in recent history. The agenda, with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its core, is a guide to tackling the world's most pressing challenges, including ending poverty and bringing economic prosperity, social inclusion, environmental sustainability and peace and good governance to all countries and all people by 2030.

The SDGs cover a wide range of complex social, economic, and environmental challenges and addressing them will require transformation in the way societies and economies function and how we interact with our planet. Education, research, innovation and leadership will be essential in helping society address these challenges. Education institutions, with their broad remit around the creation and dissemination of knowledge and their unique position within society, have a fundamental role to play in the achievement of the SDGs to the extent that none of the SDGs can be achieved without this sector.

¹This section is adapted from SDSN Australia/Pacific (2017): Getting started with the SDGs in universities: A guide for universities, higher education institutions, and the academic sector. Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Edition. Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Australia/Pacific, Melbourne.


Some of our main areas of contribution are:

TEACHING AND LEARNING

Providing students with the knowledge, skills and motivation to understand and address the SDGs (broadly 'education for sustainable development'); providing in-depth academic or vocational expertise to implement SDG solutions; providing accessible, affordable and inclusive education to all; providing capacity building for students and professionals from developing countries; and empowering and mobilising young people.

 

ORGANISATIONAL GOVERNANCE, CULTURE AND OPERATIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY

Implementing the principles of the SDGs through governance structures and operational policies and decisions, such as those relating to employment, finance, campus services, support services, facilities, procurement, human resources, and student administration.

EXTERNAL LEADERSHIP

Strengthening public engagement and participation in addressing the SDGs; initiating and facilitating cross-sectoral dialogue and action; ensuring higher education sector representation in national implementation; helping to design SDG-based policies; and demonstrating sector commitment to the SDGs.


How education facilities can contribute to the SDGs

While teaching and learning, research, organisational governance and operations, and external leadership are often approached separately, they are interlinked. The SDGs present great opportunities for creating, strengthening and communicating the links between these areas, and therefore a university-wide approach to engagement with the SDGs is the best option (see section 3).

The diagram below summarises the structure of this section and provides an overview of the key contributions education institutions can make to the SDGs.


 

Teaching and Learning

Education is one of the bedrocks of the SDGs. Quality education leads to significant sustainable development benefits for individuals, communities and countries [9]. It is also a crucial way to support and accelerate global capacity to implement the SDGs [10]. Universities, through their extensive learning and teaching activities – including undergraduate and graduate teaching, professional training, executive and adult education, online learning, co-curricular activities, and student clubs and societies – have a very important role to play in SDG implementation.

​How is teaching and learning relevant to the SDG's?

The SDGs recognise the importance of education to sustainable development through SDG 4, which calls for providing 'inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all'. Some of them explicitly call for action by universities, and many others have direct relevance to teaching and learning activities within universities (see below).

SDG targets relating directly to teaching and learning

TARGET​ ​
​4.3

​By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university

4.4​

​By 2030, increase substantially the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship

​4.5

​By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations

​4.7

​By 2030, ensure that all students acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and the contribution of culture to sustainable development

​4.a

​Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all

​4.b
​By 2030, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countires
​4.c
​By 2030, increase the supply of qualified teachers substantially, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States


While education is the focus of one goal SDG [4] it is interlinked with all the other SDGs and plays a crucial role in supporting their implementation. This is because:

  • Quality education leads to improved development outcomes for individuals and therefore communities and countries. These include better access to gainful employment, better nutrition and health, reduction of gender disparities, greater resilience in disasters, more engaged citizens etc.
  • Implementing the SDGs will require addressing a wide range of multifaceted and interconnected social, economic and environmental challenges, involving complex interlinkages, uncertainty and conflicts of values. Providing students with skills to think through complexity, transcend paradigms, learn through dialogue and communication, engage in deep reflection, develop worldview and values sensitivity, and assess when activities support or detract from achieving the SDGs, as well as other important skills, knowledge and vocational expertise will help create more effective SDG implementers and will help accelerate the implementation of all the SDGs [12].
​Academic excellence is at the core of ADvTECH's education policy and four strategic quadrants have been developed in line with our education offering across the board:



The curriculum producing academic excellence is globally recognised and is interlinked with the other quadrants for a holistic result.

Digital literacy takes our students far beyond computer literacy as it includes computational thinking and programming at a global level as well as application of new age technologies.

Global competencies to develop skills such as critical thinking, research skills to analyse and interpret information, communications, interpersonal and self management skills are embedded in teaching and learning activities in all our schools to prepare students for their future world at a global level.

Global citizenship promotes awareness in our students of the UN's SDGs. In nurturing positive values and behaviours from a young age as well as a solution-seeking mindset, they will develop into globally competent individuals in a position to make meaningful contributions to society at all levels.



In line with our strategic objectives and within the greater communities
ADvTECH and our brands have a presence
​SDG 1
​POVERTY ERADICATION

  • Ensuring fair trade and ethical supply chains
  • Investment policies that promote Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) principles
  • Providing support structures for students living in poverty, such as scholarships and assistance packages​
​SDG 2
​ZERO HUNGER

  • Providing sustainable, nutritious and affordable food choices on campus
  • Introducing measures to reduce food waste on campus​
​SDG 3
​GOOD HEALTH AND WELLBEING

  • Providing information​, health programmes and well-being services on campus
  • Providing well-being programmes for staff and students to reduce incidence of non-communicable diseases and promote mental health
  • Implementing 'no smoking' policies on most campuses with dedicated smoking areas on the campuses
  • Ensuring appropriate practices are in place for dealing with hazardous substances
​SDG 4
QUALITY EDUCATION

  • Supporting bursary and disadvantaged people to access and participate in the campus, including persons with disabilities, previously disadvantaged people, and people experiencing financial difficulty
  • Providing programmes to enhance literacy and education in communities and schools in our local areas and beyond
  • Providing facilities that promote and encourage inclusivity in learning
  • SDG 4.7 ("...ensure that all students acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development"): This is relevant for ensuring that the next generation of researchers is trained to undertake research related to sustainable development​
​SDG 5
GENDER EQUALITY

  • Implementing workplace gender equity strategies, including those for improving the representation of women in university leadership positions and senior academic roles
  • Promoting workplace flexibility
  • Participating in national campaigns to prevent violence against women​
​SDG 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15
ENVIRONMENTAL RELATED SDG'S

  • Manage, conserve and recycle water
  • Incorporating aspirational environmentally sustainable design aspects into capital works
  • Instituting awareness of zero-net emission and investing in on-campus renewable energy
  • Putting climate mitigation and adaption strategies in place
  • Developing long-term resource efficiency and management plans
  • Installing water harvesting, storage and re-use systems 
  • Reducing waters and increasing recycling
  • Ensuring safe practice expectations for hazardous waste handling and disposal
  • In the process of incorporating sustainability and ethical considerations into purchasing policies, procedures and activities
  • Our operations do not include the use of hazardous material but if used, for example, in a science lab, it is disposed of in the appropriate, safe and environmentally conscious manner
​SDG 8
DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

  • Aligning employment, training and regulation policies to be consistent with commitment to equity and access strategies and targets
  • Providing appropriately positioned and supported scholarship and financial assistance schemes for students in need
  • Supporting creativity and innovation through a culture of acceptable risk-taking, providing the appropriate space and process for ideas to flourish
  • Monitoring employment outcomes and academic workload management
  • Investigating socially and environmentally responsible procurement policies and procedures, affecting up and down the supply chain
  • Critically querying the role of economic growth​
​SDG 9
​INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Testing and piloting innovative solutions to improving operations on campus
  • Committing to building sustainable and resilient infrastructure that supports well-being and minimises environmental impact
  • Ensuring retrofits of existing buildings increase resource efficiency and adopt clean and environmentally sound technologies
  • Committing to sustainable and reliable information and communications technology processes and services​
​SDG 10
REDUCED INEQUALITIES

  • Committing to the elimination of discrimination across the institution by ensuring the diversity of the population has the opportunity to be represented and have a voice in the decision-making process​


​Human Capital Performance

EMPLOYEES

Our 7 549 (2017: 6 743) employees are the backbone of our operations and core to our long-term sustainability.

Owing to the nature of our business, we also employ many independent contractors such as lecturers and sports coaches.

Our people are our greatest asset; they are key to the success of our business and add value to the lives of thousands of students, parents, job candidates and clients. We take pride in our highly skilled workforce.

Our development programmes, which fall under our ADvTALENT initiatives, are continually reviewed and refined, ensuring that our people are given the means to provide quality service at all times.

We continually identify and develop key employees and high potential individuals within the ADvTECH group. Our ability to attract and retain skills is influenced by our structured approach to talent management. Identified employees participate in our structured management and leadership development programmes and we actively encourage further academic study. All these interventions, in turn, support the business and its performance.



Leadership development

At ADvTECH we believe in developing our leaders so that they are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform at their peak.  We focus on building their confidence to ensure that they can lead and develop high-performing teams.

We have created purposeful learning solutions that are linked to our business strategic goals and to the personal development plans of our leaders.

Management toolkit programme The management toolkit programme is designed specifically for onboarding our managers and aims to improve their time management and competence in their new role.  We want to ensure that our new leaders are equipped with the skills to be personally effective and can manage talent, as well as engage their people to get things done at the highest level.  We ensure that they will become strategic thinkers who can execute in line with the business imperatives which seek to keep the customer at the core of what we do.

Management Development Programme (MDP)

The MDP stretches the abilities of talented leaders. We aim to close the gap between the talent we have and the talent we want to develop to implement our strategic goals in a systematic way. The MDP workshops are fundamental building blocks to expanding the commercial and strategic mindset of our leaders.

The programme includes a work-based project that is linked to the MDP candidate's performance goals. Candidates will have an opportunity to showcase their talent to our executives as part of their assessment process through the programme.

Leadership development masterclasses

Our leadership development masterclasses focus on growing our leadership competencies throughout our business.  Our best-of-breed blended solutions are relevant to the challenges our leaders face as our business grows and evolves.  We give them skills that keep them agile in a dynamic environment.

Principal Development Programme (PDP)

The PDP launched in 2018 is our flagship programme for leaders in the teaching fraternity. It is aimed at both principals and deputy principals. The role of our principal is not only to ensure that a school or campus runs smoothly, but he/she must be able to execute on the commercial requirements of sustaining a school operation.

Our programme ensures that our principals are able to identify and understand the financial levers that drive ADvTECH's business to maximise revenue and return on investment. We also develop our principals' ability to engage, inspire and lead a vast array of stakeholders including their own teams.

Mentorship programme

Our structured Mentorship programme supports our entire management and leadership development philosophy and helps ensure that our people are equipped and supported in achieving their career goals.

Although the minimum requirement for mentor/mentee pairs is that they meet for at least an hour each month, we are proud of the fact that our people spend more than the required amount of time together, working on ways to best support our mentees' career goals.

There are 65 mentors who are actively engaged with mentees. The mentorship expands beyond the formal programme and they have a knock-on effect as they deal with other staff and students.

Coaching support

Coaching for staff members is presented in the following areas in support of leadership development:

  • Providing leaders in transition business coaching support as they migrate to new areas of responsibility and are required to focus on new behaviour values and time applications
  • Support newly appointed managing directors
  • Syndicate group coaching support to delegates participating in the MDP 
  • Syndicate group coaching support to delegates participating in the PDP

In actively encouraging further skills development to support the business as it grows, we also support employees by offering bursaries. Employees have the opportunity to obtain bursaries for themselves as well as family members.

In line with our stated goal of being a great company to work for, our group campuses have employee-centred facilities with a strong focus on building a competitive employee value proposition to ensure that we attract and retain the best people. Our people have access to some of the following facilities and benefits:

  • Risk cover (death and disability)
  • Retirement provision
  • Optional medical aid membership > School fee reduction bursaries to staff dependants
  • Study assistance at our internal brands > Accredited learning opportunities
  • On-site recreation facilities at most sites > Counselling facilities
  • Outsourced Employee Assistance Programme
  • Various health and welfare events
  • Employee recognition awards e.g. long-service
  • Onsite canteens
  • Other benefits

The key to consistent high quality service delivery lies in attracting and retaining well-qualified, experienced and enthusiastic employees.

Long-service awards are presented on completion of five years' service and every five years thereafter to acknowledge the important contribution of longer serving employees.



Transformation

We aim for employee demographics to reflect our nation's diversity, we are in tune with the needs of our students and the companies who will ultimately hire them.

ADvTECH regards equal employment opportunity as both a strategic and a business imperative. We recognise that diversity enables us to garner the different skills, experiences and cultures of our employees to create an even richer working and learning environment. This increases our ability to deliver consistent excellent value to all our stakeholders.

ADvTECH employs 22 people with disabilities and we do everything within our means to provide the necessary resources and technologies needed for them to create and enjoy a productive working environment.

The group's employment equity policy sets out annual targets and is monitored by the group's transformation, social and ethics committee (Tsec) and the occupational health and safety (Hesio) committees.

We remain committed to transformation and continued to make progress during the  past year. This is an essential component for our long-term success. While ADvTECH makes use of external accredited empowerment rating agencies, Tsec monitors the group's progress on the pillars of transformation: employment equity, black share ownership and management control, skills training and development, Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) procurement, enterprise development and corporate social investment.

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE)

Through our affirmative procurement process, we support suppliers from historically disadvantaged communities. Our policies encourage procurement from B-BBEE suppliers, and motivate the group's suppliers to become B-BBEE compliant. This has resulted in just under half of the group's weighted B-BBEE procurement spend going to B-BBEE compliant beneficiaries.


HIV AIDS

HIV and Aids has reached epidemic proportions in many developing countries, and it has far-reaching socio-economic, employment and human rights implications.

While the pandemic is now better contained through the availability of anti-retroviral drugs, new infections continue to occur. ADvTECH is perfectly positioned to use its learning environment in the education of students and we promote responsibility with regard to this virus. We encourage and support voluntary testing and education to minimise the stigma around those living with HIV/Aids and numerous voluntary counselling and testing initiatives took place during the year.

Events and speakers are arranged regularly and condoms, pamphlets and brochures are made available at support office and in our higher education institutions.


ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND SAFETY (EHS)

The health, safety and hygiene of our scholars, students and employees in their working and learning environment is a top priority.

ADvTECH is well placed to educate our students and instil in them a deep respect for the environment and an understanding of the risks associated with global climate change.

Environmental education forms an integral part of the curriculum at our schools. Two schools in the Centurus group are internationally certified eco-schools and have earned their platinum flags. Creating environmental awareness among our students and communities promotes the protection of the valuable natural assets of our country for the future. Practical initiatives to reduce water and electricity usage include the installation of gas geysers under sinks, light switch movement sensors, rainwater capture tanks, various recycling projects and back-up generators as well as reducing travel by using video conferencing.

When developing or expanding infrastructure, the properties department conducts impact studies to identify ways to mitigate potential negative effects on the environment. They also develop environmental management plans to protect and maintain sites situated in eco-sensitive areas. During the design process of greenfields buildings as well as existing buildings, the department ensures that they are environmentally friendly. We run environmental programmes on an ongoing basis throughout the group and encourage a greater sense of environmental responsibility. We have embarked on a project to install electricity meters at all our sites. The aim is to monitor electricity usage and consciously work towards reducing it.

To ensure that our sites are compliant with the South African Occupational Health and Safety Act, a dedicated health and safety team trains, audits and proactively ensures adherence to the group's OHS policies. As part of the group's overall commitment to student and employee well-being, the group conducts external audits to ensure independent evaluations.

The ADvTECH EHS Programme is a risk-based programme, which is run on OHSAS 18001 (aligning to ISO 45000) and ISO 14001 principles and consists of group policies, procedures, safe work procedures and guideline documents. National EHS legislation as well as local by-laws are included in the policies and procedures. Where national legislation does not exist or is lacking, international labour organisation (ILO) standards or group best practice are used as a benchmark.

EHS performance, compliance to the group requirements, as well as legal compliance is monitored through EHS audits.

Health and safety representatives were nominated and trained at their respective sites. First aid training ensures that our employees are well equipped to deal with emergencies.

Emergency preparedness and response

The safety of our staff and clients is critical. Our externally audited OHS score for 2018 was 96%. We exceed OHS regulations by having at least two first aiders per 100 people together with all pre-primary teachers who undergo a basic CPR course.

All ADvTECH sites have developed comprehensive emergency preparedness and response procedures incorporating events as identified in the risk assessments/profiles. Employees and students are aware of the emergency protocols. Emergency drills are conducted up to four times per annum.

EHS incidents

All EHS incidents are recorded, investigated and ranked. Shortcomings are incorporated into the risk register and profile and EHS policies and procedures are updated as required.

All playgrounds are audited annually by an independent evaluator to ensure compliance to the SANS 51176 standard. This has resulted in year on year reduction in playground equipment related injuries. The number of playground related incidences have decreased significantly from seven to one.

Crime/Theft inciden analysis

Loss control procedures have been implemented. A new security company has been appointed at some sites. Security risk assessments are being reviewed and security measures assessed to ensure adequate measures are in place.

Medical Treatment incident analysis

Historically the majority of medical treatment incidents at our facilities are related to sports injuries and slip/trip/fall type injuries. Awareness campaigns have been initiated to reduce these types of injuries.

Damage to property incident analysis

There was a high incidence rate of storm damage as well as vehicle accidents in 2018. The vehicle safety programme that was implemented to mitigate this risk is being re-evaluated to identify shortcomings. A vehicle and driver safety management procedure has been issued and other control measures are being implemented in line with the risk profile.

Environmental projects

Pecanwood College is in its 11th year of an eco-school programme that creates awareness in environmental sustainability. This year they are aiming for the diamond award with their plastic recycling project and to participate in Global Classroom Day.

We also respond to any critical environmental situation, such as the severe drought in Cape Town. In this case, along with awareness posters and communication to staff and students, the ADvTECH sites in the region implemented water saving measures including the following:

  • Water in hand basins switched off and hand sanitiser provided in bathrooms
  • Toilet flushing times reduced and rental of chemical portable toilets for "Day Zero"
  • Cleaners using spray bottles and half-filled water buckets for cleaning
  • Irrigation systems in gardens and on sports fields switched off

Installation of boreholes to run bathrooms, ablutions and for irrigation is being investigated.

Most of the ADvTECH sites manage recycling programmes to divert waste from landfill thereby reducing our environmental footprint.

Environmental targets were set to reduce utilities but requires accurate readings and measurements and is awaiting the new system that will be implemented by the group facilities department in 2019.




CORPORATE SOCIAL INVESTMENT (CSI)

Social commitment goes hand-in-hand with doing business today. Since ADvTECH's business is all about people development, education and imparting knowledge, CSI is an integral part of the company's operations and outreach. Our approach is directed towards education interventions with local disadvantaged communities. Education is important in promoting equality and is an enabling factor in transforming our society.

The group promotes participation in educational outreach projects that provide volunteer staff and students with a greater sense of belonging.

In line with the SDGs, herewith a few examples of how the ADvTECH students contributed, used their skills and made a difference to their communities:

  • The 605 projects supported during 2018 made a socio-economic contribution to the beneficiaries.
  • The group invested in bursary tuition to the value of more than R174 million (2017: R130 million) which also had a positive impact.
  • The teacher bursary scheme, launched in 2007, is aimed at addressing the need for high quality teachers in South Africa. In addition to completing their tertiary studies, bursary recipients are given the opportunity to practically apply their acquired skills within the group's schools. At the end of 2018, there were 12 active participants.
  • The annual Vega Brand Challenge has the two-fold benefit of giving students 'live' client experience and a chance to showcase their skills, while the proceeds from the 'fee' are donated to a bursary scheme assisting young people from poorer backgrounds to attend a tertiary institution such as Vega in the future.
  • Rosebank College in Braamfontein ran a peer-to-peer programme at Home of Hope for Girls teaching computer skills while Rosebank College Pretoria visited Lerato House weekly to assist residents with their homework.


 Sustainability