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What is Isandla Usizo?

Isandla Usizo is an exciting and unique broad based black economic empowerment (BEE) initiative. It is a three year curriculum which focuses on providing life coaching to previously disadvantaged children on a primary school level. The programme has the unique feature of using music and arts to drive home foundational life and business principles.

More about the programme

In the Isandla Usizo class, young people are equipped with the knowledge and practical experience of key life and business principles by means of arts and culture activities, which will enable them to become successful adults.



The heart of Isandla Usizo

The core focus and motivational thrust of the program is to provide these young children with the tools to build their lives with and to see to it that they have the ability to be pro-active about their future and become innovative and creative members of society, willing and able to make a difference to the future of South Africa. [ Back to top ]

Life and business principles

The various aspects of life and business can be explained using the personal and business wheels, a well-known concept in the business and social sphere. These wheels identify the main arias in a person’s life and business where success may be attained. A person’s success is measured by how well he or she achieves different open-ended and absolute goals in each of the two interactive spheres of life. A person who has a successful personal life is much more likely to make a worthwhile contribution to the economy.

Using the business- and life wheels as foundation, certain themes have been identified which form the basic structure upon which the curriculum is based as illustrated in the table below.

Thus certain principles that underscore these themes are taught every year while building on what has been learnt in the previous year (refer to logistics of the program - curriculum overview for more detailed information). [ Back to top ]

The music objectives

The effectiveness of the programme is greatly enhanced through the use of music in the following ways:

  • lessons are made interactive, fun and memorable;
  • music is a universal language, effective in building bridges across cultures in South Africa;
  • music appeals to the subconscious as well as the intellect;
  • the stability that their cultural heritage offers them becomes the springboard for exploring and realizing their full potential within their own and other cultural environments;
  • music encourages creativity — a valuable asset in an ever changing and growing South Africa.

There are two main objectives when using music and arts as an educational vehicle, namely holistic development and general knowledge.

Holistic development

Through dancing, storytelling, crafts, drama, instrumental play, games and singing children develop holistically in numerous ways. To mention only a few, music is used to develop the left and right brain, gross and small motor movement, self and group awareness, communication, problem solving, intellectual and emotional growth and creativity.


General knowledge

Exposure to a wide variety of music and cultures not only creates in them a love for music, but also broadens their general knowledge of the world they live in. These goals are reached through the unit themes that are used. [ Back to top ]

How the life skills – and business principles and the music objectives come together.

The central point of each lesson is the story, in which music and life skills come together to form a seamless teaching experience. For example, the life skill objective can be about teaching learners how to save money while the music objective for the same unit is about teaching them about different instruments. Therefore in the story the character (an instrument) will learn to save money. The activities that are built around the story make up the rest of the lesson, and will further underscore the theme. Continuing the above example, learners will listen to music of the instrument and make their own piggy bank. Also, the learners are taught a new song every two weeks wherein the words of the song either emphasize the principles learnt or teach something about the instrument. Finally, the take home paper serves to recapture all that has been learnt in the class about saving and about the instrument (please refer to the example lesson as well as logistics of the program for more detailed information).

Finally, the take home paper serves to recapture all that has been learnt in the class about saving and about the instrument as well as involve the parent and establish communication between the parents and the presenter. (Please refer to the curriculum for more detailed information). [ Back to top ]

Why Isandla Usizo is a worthwhile programme to get involved in?

According to extensive research conducted in the field of early childhood development [*], investments made in children at primary school level delivers enormous dividends for developing economies.

It is stated that money invested in early childhood development yields extraordinary public returns. One would not expect adults to be competent at reading or mathematics if those subjects were not introduced early and repeated regularly.

In the same way, like a good savings programme, life skill development and financial education should start early and be repeated regularly. Rob Grunewald, a regional economic analyst of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in the USA, says the following:

“Research has shown that investment in early childhood development programs brings a real (that is, inflation adjusted) public return of 12 percent and a real total return, public and private, of 16 percent. We are unaware of any other economic development effort that has such a public return…” (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6 February 2003)

By focusing on primary school children, the effectiveness of the program is greatly increased, since children are likely to be more susceptible to life-changing ideas and the modelling of principles.

The saying is true: the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. The life and business skills that are taught to these children will determine their economic activities and the contributions that they will make as adults. [ Back to top ]

The saying is true: the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. The life and business skills that are taught to these children will determine their economic activities and the contributions that they will make as adults.


The goal of empowering people to become economically active and effective can only be achieved if the potential of our nation’s children is realized, and if all parties are willing to invest resources in them today. The Isandla Usizo Initiative strives to promote in them a positive attitude and creative new ways of thinking, which will flow through into the social and economic sphere of society.

Once the vision is clear, the how to will come by itself.

[*] Articles can be supplied upon request

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Go the the previous page

What is Isandla Usizo?
More about the programme
The heart of Isandla Usizo
Life and business principles
The music objectives
How it all comes together
What makes IU worthwhile ?


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