Learning Sciences Exchange Fellow

Margie Worthington-Smith

Margie is a South African from Cape Town who was educated at Westerford High School, the University of Stellenbosch and University of Cape Town, graduating in 1984 with an BA and Higher Diploma in Education.  In 1980, between school and university Margie was a Rotary Exchange Student to Salem NY, USA.  This experience was formative in creating the beginnings of a broader worldview and an interest in human development and equality.

After teaching in Mitchell’s Plain during the state of emergency in 1985, Margie taught at Rustenburg High School.  Moved by the situation in the country at the time and involved in the Conscientious Objector Support Group, she left teaching to establish what was to become the Triple Trust Organisation in 1988 with a few like-minded friends.  This non-profit organisation (NPO) grew to a national organisation of over 80 people providing business and skills training, financing and marketing support to many thousands of unemployed South Africans.  The materials developed during this time are still used around the world.

In 1996 Margie established the SA Institute for Entrepreneurship.  This NPO’s goal is to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in youth through school-based learner resources.  In addition SAIE works in rural and urban communities training farmers to effectively utilise their resources in an entrepreneurial manner.

In 2009 Margie joined the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation becoming its Executive Director.  This Foundation combines her passions of education and entrepreneurship in its pursuit of and support for young South Africans who have the potential to become high impact entrepreneurs.

In 2013 Margie left to focus on her two school-going children.  During this time she established her consultancy which gave her the opportunity to support primarily NPOs to develop and improve their strategy, values and culture, and organisational development opportunities.  

During this journey Margie has mentored start up CEOs, and served on various non-profit and school boards.  Between 2005 and 2017 she was a Senior Enterprise Fellow at the University of Essex in the UK assisting with facilitating annual international entrepreneurship conferences.  

In 2018 Margie was invited to join a small team located in the Department of Basic Education (DBE) known as E3 (cubed).  E3 is an initiative of the DBE established to research South African-appropriate student-centred teaching-for-learning approaches that will better prepare learners for the challenges of the changing world. The goal of E3 is to inspire all learners to complete school and for 100% of these learners to study further, get a job, or start their own enterprises.  

Margie was the Executive Programme Director of E³ until 2021 when she moved to the Research, Innovation and Development team.  She now focuses on international research and best practice, learning systems, pedagogies and innovative learning practices to inform the design and development of a more appropriate educational system for South Africa.

Margie has developed skills in training materials development, fundraising, training, facilitation, mentoring, writing and editing, education, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial mindset development, small business development and music. Her interest in individuals, combined with her ability to maximise excellence, arrange “the dots” and activate strategy, make her a team architect whose strengths combine to achieve the intended strategy by bringing the best out in people.