Chess is more than just a game. It teaches critical skills ranging from strategic planning through to dealing with failure. Anyone who has run a business will immediately recognise the benefits of those skills. Anyone who has lived in South Africa will know how badly we need them.
You don’t have to look far to find research that supports the use of chess in schools. It leads to growth in cognitive abilities and even IQ test results. Chess is recognised as being particularly powerful as a tool to improve mathematics, an area where we are falling terribly short as a country. Naturally, improved science marks are also linked to chess.
Surprisingly, studies also link chess to improved reading and comprehension skills. The visualisation skills required for a strategic sequence in chess are equally helpful in dealing with the written word.
Perhaps the best thing about chess is that it is incredibly affordable. All you need is a chess board and the pieces! Of course, you also need a committed person to introduce children to the game and develop their skills. Such a person isn’t easy to find.
This is where Babalwa Rubusana comes in. Babalwa founded the Gugulethu Chess College to make a difference in the community in which she lives. Gugulethu is riddled with crime and lack of infrastructure, yet she doesn’t let this stop her.
Just this month, Babalwa registered 20 kids for the SA open chess championship in Cape Town and managed to accommodate 12 players from Johannesburg at short notice.
Despite sending proposals to government departments for funding since 2016, Babalwa says that she has never received even a single chess board. Babalwa relies on private funding from individuals and corporates for basic needs like boards, food and transport costs. Remember, these kids don’t have the means to pay for any of this.
At bizval, we know that our country is in desperate need of more entrepreneurs. The links between chess and improved school results are clear and the likelihood of success for an entrepreneur increases at higher levels of education. The Gugulethu Chess College is run by a passionate community builder who can make a significant impact with modest levels of funding.
For these reasons, we chose to support the Gugulethu Chess College this Mandela Day. You can follow their Facebook page here.