Educated African refugees are assisting a large number of children in Cape Town’s underprivileged towns and cities to master science and mathematics, as a result of an educational initiative referred to as Leap.
Every weekend approximately 800 students ranging from Grades 10 to 12 go to the southern suburb of Pinelands for tutoring in these subject areas. On weekday afternoons, tutors visit Leap Learning Centres within the townships to work alongside as much as 840 Grade 8 and 9 children from 12 educational institutions in Cape Town’s disadvantaged suburbs.
Each of these centres are actually an outreach project managed and operated by the Leap Science and Maths School, the purpose is to completely transform educationally disadvantaged local communities. You can find 58 tutors carrying out work at the centres, 10% of whom happen to be South African. The others are a diversified combination coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
The project along with Leap School were set up at the same time in 2004.
In the beginning tutors signed up with the program on an unpaid voluntary basis. In a matter of a couple of months Leap founder John Gilmour ended up being overcome as a result of the tutors’ commitment and competency, and consequently decided to source suitable investment. The tutors at this moment take home a minimal daily stipend of R110 (US$16).
For the reason that mathematics and science in many cases are regarded as challenging, pupils frequently select less difficult subject areas in order to avoid jeopardising their matric exemptions. Unfortunately without having these particular subjects, pupils’ options available for tertiary study tend to be significantly restricted.
Pupils participating in the Saturday morning program are generally thankful for the supplemental help and support.
“They teach you a lot better than our regular teachers. If you do not fully understand, they try to find out from you just what you are having difficulties with,” said Asemahle Mlanga, a 17-year-old pupil coming from the close by seaside resort town of Strand.
Phaphama Maoblo, also in Grade 11, remarked, “My test results have actually improved very well. There’s no doubt that they are a great benefit to South African children.”
“I think it is intriguing that there exists this many students who happen to be desperate when it comes to a quality education, and will definitely invest their own personal financial resources and time to come here on Saturday,” said Mark Medema, president of Washington DC-based NGO EdVillage, as he observed a Saturday class. “I really don’t believe this occurs in the US.”
Amazing advantages for everyone
South Africa’s public education system is hindered due to the absence or unavailability of qualified and competent teachers, making the contribution of these educated people from other countries incredibly beneficial.
The tutoring program has not simply helped pupils but has additionally been crucial in assisting refugees to be able to integrate into South Africa.
Sammy Ntumba, head of the Leap Learning Centre Project, left the DRC in 2003 to come to South Africa. He got here accompanied by a degree in chemical engineering and metallurgy, unfortunately his qualification was not accepted in this country.
Ntumba commenced postgraduate studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT), but found it necessary to discover a way of sustaining himself, in addition to financing his studies. His very first job had been handing out advertising flyers at a traffic light. Shortly after, he found employment as a night security guard within an affluent Cape Town suburb. It had been tedious and exhausting work and he ended up becoming more and more disheartened and discouraged as a result of the absence of stimulation.
In 2004, he noticed an advert at UCT for volunteer tutors in township learning centres. Seven years later, the programme has taken his personal life in a completely new direction. He has had the opportunity to bring his wife and son to reside with him in South Africa, and has made a decision to carry on with a profession in social development, as opposed to engineering.
According to Ntumba, “We are unquestionably educated. It is especially essential to transfer that to others. If I don’t do it, I will die with that knowledge. It is not costing us gold and silver, it costs nothing, rather it is actually an important thing that we are carrying out.”
Ntumba’s account echos that of a large number of his fellow workers at Leap. Most have had the opportunity to abandon their security jobs, complete their studies and commence earning a living with South African companies, and in some cases, educational institutions.
Dr Zelo Mangombo, also from the DRC, arrived in South Africa in 2000 having a degree in education, along with honours in chemistry. Last year he managed to obtain his doctorate in chemistry at the University of the Western Cape.
Despite having his new qualifications and skills, Mangombo keeps on working and teaching at Leap. “Since I have been here I have observed superb improvements,” he said. “Typically the children are receptive and ready to learn. They happen to be committed to their work.”
Quality education for disadvantaged pupils
When Leap training first became available and opened its doors in 2004, it accepted 72 Grade 11 and 12 pupils. It presently has four campuses, two in the Western Cape in Langa and Gugulethu, and two in Gauteng in Alexandra and Diepsloot. Each campus has 170 pupils, of whom 69% are girls.
Last year South Africa attained a national matric pass rate of 67.8%. Of those pupils, 23.5% received a university entrance. The national pass rate for science was 48%, and 47% for mathematics.
Leap is without a doubt rendering a considerable contribution to quality education in South Africa. In 2003 merely 55 African language-speaking Western Cape pupils obtained university entrance levels in mathematics and science. This past year, Leap’s 107 Grade 12 pupils accomplished a 98% overall pass rate. Every one of these children wrote mathematics and science, attaining a 98% and 90% pass rate in these subjects respectively. Six pupils received distinctions in mathematics, and also for the very first time, three distinctions were obtained for science.
Three quarters of Leap’s graduates at the moment are pursuing tertiary studies.
Additionally there is a teacher training module for students currently taking their teaching degrees via correspondence. The five-year programme is designed to provide Leap teachers the main benefit of a comprehensive understanding of their particular selected subjects, and improved communication skills to enable them to more effectively interact with their pupils.