Cape Town,“Economies that have a strong design culture and use their human resources and creativity to develop and sell products using indigenous technology are the most successful. Design holds the key to economic growth in South Africa.” Heeding this call to action by Bernard Smith, head of the CSIR’s National Advisory Council on Innovation, it is with great pride that Woolworths, together with the Western Cape Education Department, has announced the launch of a new design education initiative for high school learners. ‘Making the Difference through Design’ is an innovative design education resource guide that will be used by educators in a new Further Education and Training (FET) subject in Design. Replacing the current Senior Certificate Examinations in various design-based disciplines, this is one of the new choices to be offered in the learning field of Arts & Culture for Grades 10-12. ‘Making the Difference through Design’ is being developed with input from many of South Africa’s leading designers and creative people and in association with the Department of Education, Design Indaba and Sappi. “We are very honoured to have been asked by the Education Department to become involved in a project of this nature. Design is a core focus for Woolworths, and it was largely our sponsorship of the Design Indaba and our on-going involvement with the MySchool initiative, that prompted the Western Cape Education Department to offer us this exciting opportunity to make a valuable contribution to education in South Africa,” said Charmaine Huet, Head of Marketing at Woolworths. “As a resource, ‘Making the Difference through Design’ will not only assist educators in helping learners to express their own creativity, but to appreciate creativity wherever they find it.” According to Jenny Rault-Smith, the Director of Curriculum Development for the Western Cape Education Department, “This collaboration between the business sector, the design industry and the formal education sector not only emphasises the importance of attracting young learners to a career in design but also paves the way for establishing the foundations for a creative, innovative and strong South African design industry. The contribution of design to the South African economy – in the formal and informal sectors – cannot be underestimated.” ‘Making the Difference through Design’ will be piloted at 121 schools in the Western Cape, from January 2006, before being rolled out nationally. The pilot programme will be aimed at Grade 10 learners, with the aim of extending to Grades 11 and 12. The programme comprises 23 modules divided into four broad categories and including subjects as diverse as advertising design, textile design, stained glass design, weaving and tapestry design, puppetry, jewellery and ceramic design, and environmental design disciplines ranging from architectural design to theatrical set design. Woolworths has recruited numerous well-known creative and design experts to share their expertise and insights. One of the experts who is donating his time as a contributor to ‘Making the Difference through Design’ is Ravi Naidoo, who heads up South Africa’s world-renowned Design Indaba. Teachers have reacted very positively to the news of the new design course and resource guide. “Design has been recognised as vital to the future of South Africa. A comprehensive resource guide – especially one that includes inspirational ideas and real-life case studies from top creative people – will be an invaluable teaching aid,” said Jill Joubert, Principal of the Frank Joubert Art & Design Centre in Newlands. “It’s been a long time coming,” she added. Woolworths believes passionately that the best way to build a better future for South Africa is to empower its future leaders by recognising and developing the potential within each child. “This is why we are part of the MySchool programme, and involved in school-based educational and skills development initiatives like ‘Making the Difference’, which is currently helping young learners in hundreds of schools throughout South Africa understand more about various aspects of health and nutrition. ‘Making the Difference through Design’ is a logical extension of our existing involvement,” says Huet. The introduction of the new streamlined FET course structure provided the ideal opportunity to introduce a focused, outcomes-based design course. The course will give learners an understanding of the contribution of design to economic productivity, social responsibility and environmental sustainability while helping them gain knowledge and skills that will enable them to adapt, participate, innovate and succeed in the future.