Just under a year ago, lockdowns in South Africa ended. This Human Rights Day, we reflect on the profound impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the teaching and learning environment at our schools and highlight areas where much more effort is needed.

We recognise that education is one of the most significant enablers for developing social and economic well-being and the key to bridging the gap between historical disadvantages and future possibilities. But as a country, South Africa is grappling with inefficiencies and inequalities in its education system and failing to build and equip our future leaders.

 

With nearly 26 000 schools, 400 000 teachers and close to 13 million learners, South Africa has one of the most unequal school systems in the world. Close to 3% of 15-year-olds and nearly 9% of 17-year-olds dropped out of school in 2021. UNICEF published a report in July 2021 which estimated that learners were anywhere from 75% to an entire school year behind. These alarming statistics illustrate our basic education system’s failure, which has been brought to focus because of the global pandemic and sustained by our country’s current approach.

 

Since 2003, The Association for Educational Transformation (ASSET) has been committed to affording students, especially those from previously disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape, the opportunity to enjoy equal access to Higher Education and the world of work. It is a fundamental human right of every learner to access quality education, regardless of their socio-economic background. ASSET’s core values are rooted in equity, inclusion, and fairness for our students. We strive to create opportunities for students from disadvantaged communities to succeed academically and thrive in their personal lives.

 

Education is not a privilege. It is a human right.

The South African Constitution guarantees that everyone in South Africa has the right to a basic education which requires active measures to improve education in the country.

At ASSET, we understand the power of education to change lives. We are passionate about youth education and firmly committed to promoting the overall well-being of students and staff and delivering quality education services.

 

Building tomorrow’s leaders

ASSET’s mission remains to improve educational transformation by providing opportunities for students from poorly resourced communities, to realise their full educational potential so that they are able to meet the challenges of life and make a positive contribution to society.

We have been on a journey to seek new and innovative solutions to support continuous learning through our enrichment, learning camps and learner development programmes.

 

The Learner Development Programme (LDP) is an initiative very close to our hearts that aims to close the gap between traditional classroom lessons and the learning needs of students from under-resourced backgrounds. By providing a safe and nurturing environment, we empower our learners with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in school and beyond.

 

Our LDP offers students opportunities to explore new subjects, engage in hands-on learning experiences, and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. We also provide students with access to technology, mentorship, and resources related to Math, Science and Robotics that may not be available to them in their schools or homes.

 

The LDP comprises a Grade 12 programme, Maths and Science programme (for grades 8 -11) and Enrichment Programmes. For both programmes, suitably qualified ASSET tutors run sessions on identified Saturdays, and we equip learners with stationery, subject-supporting learning materials and a full hot meal every Saturday.

 

There is a massive focus on mental preparedness, primarily for grade 11 and 12 learners through career awareness – mentorship and role modelling sessions. Additional enhancement to learning is done through our holiday camps, revision workshops, winter and spring schools programme.

 

Our education initiatives have allowed our learners to learn, grow, and fulfil their potential. Through our efforts, we aim to:

• Address challenges arising from the ‘trimmed’ school curriculum under Covid-19.

• Support learner content exposure with practical experiments engagement.

• Continue with upskilling learners with 21st century skills through:

• Participation in STREAMI (Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Aviation & Arts, Maths and Innovation) enrichment activities and events

• Involving as many learners as possible in different types of clubs

• Educator Empowerment on Science skills through workshops (Grades 8-11)

• Educator Empowerment on Maths ICT resources available online and how to use them.

 

We recognise the dignity, value and worth of all students and their right to the highest quality of education and the huge disparities that still exist in South Africa. We recognise that education is not just about academic success, but also about empowering individuals to become agents of positive change in their communities. We are committed to creating a world where every learner has the opportunity to realise their full potential and contribute to a better world for themselves and future generations.

 

We also realise that the scope is enormous. Still, we are fully committed to working alongside the inspirational teachers and principals who do their best with the limited resources they have to transform their schools and unleash the vast potential we see in the youth of the country.

 

Sources: Statistics South Africa (Stats SA 2022), UNICEF        

 

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