In 2017, Adopt-a-School Foundation, a partner entity of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, reached their goal of an 80% matric pass under the Department of Basic Education’s Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) *. This achievement is the result of holistic school development programmes that go beyond academic programmes and address basic amenities, social influences, and school leadership.
Socio-economic conditions remain one of the major sources of educational inequality**. Children attending schools in rural and disadvantaged communities face a multitude of challenges, not related to education, that affect their schooling experience and academic performance. These challenges involved lack of transport, malnourishment, family responsibilities, peer pressure, lack of mentorship, and lack of resources such the internet and other services. These are the issues that Adopt-a-School Foundation aims to address by offering their integrated and holistic school development programmes.
Siwali Secondary School, located inland from the wild coast in the remote area of Lusikisiki, is one such school. Since Adopt-a-School intervened in 2013, performance has increased by over 30%. Leadership development, the provision of a feeding scheme kitchen, proper administration facilities, and health and sanitation programmes are just some of the holistic interventions that helped this school to reach a 94% pass rate, with 85% of learners obtaining bachelor or diploma passes this year. Targeted school-based educator support programmes also improved the average pass rates for Physical Science by 36% and for Mathematics by 22%.
Other stand-out performances in the programme include Modilati Secondary School, Kwazamokuhle Secondary School, Tshiavhase Secondary School, and Mokgome High School. Each of these schools achieved matric pass rate of over 85% in 2017. Tshivhase Secondary School is also home to Takalani Bambela, who achieved the highest Maths result in the country.
“It was all about hard work and getting support from my teachers and my parents, they always motivated me to study hard throughout the year and not let my dream vanish because of societal situations and my background," says Bambela. He went on to encourage this year’s matriculants to look beyond their current situation and to aim ahead***.
As stated in the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2016, South Africa has been ranked as one of the world’s worst performers in both Maths and Science subjects***. In response to this, Adopt-a-School partnered with secondary schools and related associations to improve results. Interventions include, among others, programmes which empower Maths and Science teachers through:
· content, planning, assessment, recording and analysing results;
· the facilitation of co-teaching and planning
· the integration of ICT into content areas by providing tools in the Maths and Science labs (computers, interactive active board etc.).
These initiatives have led to the average Maths performance improving by 5% and Physical Science by 4% in the Foundation’s adopted schools.
“Our focus is not merely on matric results, it’s about developing the whole child and preparing them for a successful and meaningful future,” says Banyana Mohajane, Head of Department Skills and Social Development at Adopt-a-School Foundation. “We make our most meaningful investment between grades 7 and 10, when learners are building the foundations for their future careers, but are also going through physical and emotional changes, and when the highest portion of drop-outs take place,” she continues.
The Foundation helps its students identify and apply for bursaries. Over 62% of matriculants in adopted schools obtained a bachelor or diploma pass. Matriculants who would ordinarily be overlooked by other bursary programmes, but demonstrate the potential to blossom with the right support, are directed to the Foundation’s sister organisation, CRET. In addition to financial support, the CRET programme offers a nurturing environment with mentorship, and psychological and social grounding.
“This year CRET awarded bursary programmes to 10 Adopt-a-School Foundation matriculants who are pursuing studies in fields such as education, aeronautical engineering and medicine, to name a few,” says Mohajane. “Partnerships like these make the building of a brighter future for South Africa an attainable goal. It’s only when we join hands, share our expertise and work together towards a common purpose that such positive growth can take place,” she concludes.