About Us

The Proficiency Foundation is an independent Trust established in 2018 with a fundamental commitment to creating equal opportunities to increase curriculum based learning and teaching performance in mathematics in the underserved schools in South Africa.

Through the experience of the founders in the public, philanthropic and corporate sectors, they have identified an opportunity for greater collaboration across these spheres of society in order to build capacity with the education sector at both learner level and teacher level, particularly in the the urban centres. To be more specific, the founders observed that through the natural course of their business public sector, corporate and philanthropic entities tend to work within their industries, regions and projects.

To this end they have observed that education investment in society tends to concentrate in urban centres, and around specific learner educational focus areas with limited integration of teacher upskilling with subject matter knowledge and development on the teaching delivery systems. This has the impact of how mathematics as subject is taught and received by learners.

The core objective of the Proficiency Trust is to provide a solid platform for scaling the teaching and educating of mathematics with the use of manipulatives and drive collaboration across social partners and entities working in education to build scale, long term capacity and consistent impact in the education sector.

This is achieved by:

  1. Accessing the most effective and cost effective educational tools of learning available, with a dedicated focus on targeting schools that are in areas of dire need with interventions that maximise long run societal impact;
  2. Enticing Learners to be willing to explore and get involved. The intervention of mathematics manipulatives allows learners to become curious and eager to learn without realising that they are learning; and
  3. Proving the best instructional content to stimulate mathematical thinking that keeps teachers at the heart of classroom instruction. Content that helps teachers and learners alike to explore mathematics and achieve learning goals with inclusive teacher-directed strategies.

The Proficiency Foundation believes in strong partnerships and collaboration with stakeholders, including education departments, donors, service providers, private and universities researchers together with schools where learning take place across breath of South Africa.

At present the Trust has identified early childhood development and foundation phase mathematics as two focus areas where greater impact can be achieved over time. The Trust is set up to evolve its focus areas over time as its work in the education sector develops in the country.




The Proficiency Foundation Board of Trustees oversees the governance of the organization. The Foundation is an approved Public Benefit Organisation(“PBO”) under PBO number 930062567 and Section 18A (1)(a) approved. Also registered under NPO 213-482

To strengthen the operational and governance of the Foundation, the Trustees have appointed FNB Fiduciary (Pty) Ltd as the Trust’s fiduciary administrators. Through FNB Philanthropy the Trust manages relationships with all counterparties in accordance with the highest standards for Corporate Governance and compliance, and to do so at scale across a multitude of funders, suppliers, regions and beneficiaries.

First National Bank is the oldest bank in South Africa and represents FirstRand’s Retail and Commercial activities in South Africa; and the broader African continent. The bank’s purpose is to be a trusted partner helping to create a better world by providing an innovative, contextual, financial solutions platform; built on enduring, rewarding relationships with customers and employees.

The Trustees benefit from a combined experience of over 100 years in the corporate, education and philanthropy sectors.

FNB Philanthropy

The FNB Philanthropy Centre provides support and guidance on the development and execution of customers Philanthropic objectives to create sustainable social and business impact. The Centre provides a mechanism through which our clients can donate towards their social investment initiatives which they are passionate about, in a structured and coordinated way; whilst also creating an enabling environment for NPO’s (Non-profit Organisations).

Puleng Kwele (Chairman)

Puleng has over 20 years senior management experience in various functions of business. Her versatility and track record are reflected in results attained in the various environments she has worked that transcend big listed corporates to small enterprises of less than ten people. Between 2008 and 2017 she held the position of Chief Executive Officer Broadband Infraco. Puleng has a deep interest in social development and views the activities of the Trust as a way to contribute to a more equal and prosperous society.

Peter Ogilvie

Peter comes from a family business background and over 30 years in Media, Distribution and Supply Chain and Merchandise Management both in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Positions held have always involved an extensive Change Management role and from this Peter has developed a passion for education and job creation and aims to continue this vision through the work of the Proficiency Foundation Trust.

Bheki Shongwe

Bheki is currently the executive chairman of Flow communications, a position he has held since 2012. He has more than 30 years of business experience in finance, marketing, sales and general management and prior to his role at Flow was the managing director of Kaizer Chiefs Football Club. Bheki has a long standing fascination with the role of education in driving social development.

Prince Siluma

Prince Siluma is the nominee of FNB Fiduciary (PTY) Ltd, an independent corporate trustee. He currently heads up FNB Philanthropy. A well-rounded business strategist with over 20 years of financial services experience; Prince has a demonstrated history of driving solutionist thinking extending from finance, fiduciary services, social investment strategy, grant making and management to working with Civic Society, Non- Profit and the Corporate Social Investment sector.


Public schools Grades 8 and 9: The focus is on grade 8 children coming from many different primary schools with different levels of maths competency. It is very important that, this cohort of learners are provided with support structures that will lift, align and standardise the conceptual foundation for learning high-school maths, with a focus on certain key concepts of the math program to meet the required competency as laid out in the South African CAPS curriculum.


Early childhood development: 90% of a child’s brain develops by the age of 5 and South Africa currently has 6 million children below the age of 6. For South African kids to be succeed and compete in this 21st Century and the fourth industrial revolution (“4IR”), they mathematical skills needs to be developed during this phase. The use of manipulatives during the ECD phase of child development are stimulating to children as the learning tools create excitement in a playful way which stimulates creativity in children. The ECD programme is designed bespoke with learnings tools developed for The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) and the National Early Learning and Development Standards (NELDS).


The Proficiency Foundation, through its partnership with Clever Minds Direct Pty Ltd (CMD), a supplier of education products, training services and curriculum development, the Foundation benefits from the experiences and successes that CMD has had in the South African Education Sector. Since 2015 over 350 000 learners and over 4500 teachers were reached across 5 provinces with pleasing results and significant impact:

  • 17% increase in competency in Grade 3 : 2015 vs 2017
  • 40% increase in competency in Grade 6: 2015 vs 2017
  • 74% increase in competency in Grade 9: 2015 vs 2017

Provinces reached include: Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.

Where are we going?

Our Vision