One of the ongoing and most pervasive challenges for South Africa today is the issue of inequality. There is no easier place to view this inequality than in the townships surrounding the City of Cape Town. With two boys in a government school in an established suburb, it pains me daily to see the inequality facing children of the same age in Crossroads and Philippi. While education is not the only area of inequality in our country, it is certainly one of the drivers which if not addressed will ensure that inequality in our country will never be erased. Even as some people applaud an improving secondary school pass rate sadly, only 44% of children get to grade 12 in South African schools. The number of pupils who started grade one in 2002 was 1,261,827 - however, the number of pupils who eventually wrote grade 12 exams in 2013 only 562,112. A staggering 56% of learners lost before even writing matric. Of those that did get to sit down to those exams, only 78.2% passed. Sadly, this means that more than 60% of South African children are left with no qualification at all beyond the Grade 9 level.
How do begin to address this? Read more about how Beautiful Gate's After School programme is improving educational outcomes and beginning to see results.
One essential starting point is to improve educational development at early childhood development level. Another is to ensure that once entering formal schooling, primary school education builds on the ECD foundations so that they are not lost. With many ECD initiatives in our area, at Beautiful Gate we have partnered with three local primary schools to begin a process of investing in children in Crossroads and Philippi. We first introduced After School Clubs in February 2014 and are presently providing Club services to 200 children between the ages of 6 and 14 years who attend week days during school term with plans to expand to ensure all primary school learners can access a Club.
The Club programme is structured to improve educational outcomes through encouraging better work habits, homework completion and school attendance. It also seeks to provide protection and life skills, i.e. skills and knowledge that makes children less vulnerable to the use of drugs, alcohol and involvement in gangs. The Clubs also provide social, spiritual and emotional support, focusing on peer relations and team work as well as offering counselling and access to social workers. Lastly, there is a focus on imparting spiritual discipleship, modelling good character and showing God’s love to each other.
As of the end of 2014 the results have started to speak for themselves. Over 70% of the children in our first Club have improved their Mathematics and English results, two foundational markers for ongoing learning success. But perhaps the most poignant result has been seeing the children grow in themselves. Frederick Douglass said “It is easier to love a child than to repair broken men.” Seeing children respond to the love of Jesus through our child care workers as they speak life and encouragement into their hearts. Seeing children grow in confidence as a mentor helps them succeed in working out a homework problem. Seeing children learn to be gracious and respectful sportsmen and women. All this has been a joy. We are trusting that as we invest in each little life, the potential that God has given each one will blossom in such a way that in future they will not be a statistic on the report card of South African Education, but rather a leader on equal footing, able to change the world.
Director - Beautiful Gate South Africa
This article first appeared as part of our April 2015 newsletter. Read the full newsletter here.
Welcome to a window into the lives and issues facing children in the Crossroads community on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. Most of these stories centre around the children and families we work with at Beautiful Gate South Africa, a Christian non-profit organisation whose mission is to show God's love as we care for and protect children, empower and preserve families and mobilise our community to do the same.