The education system in South Africa is failing. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report (2016), the quality of the South African Education system is ranked 137th among 139 nations; the quality of its maths and science education is ranked 139. There is a lack of qualified math, science and technology teachers; analysis of the most recent round (2007) of the Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality revealed that many South African mathematics teachers have below-basic levels of content knowledge with high proportions of them unable to answer questions aimed at their pupils. Compounding these issues is the disparity between educational quality and student performance in townships and better-resourced suburban schools. For example, 2014 Matric results show a pass rate of 90+% at most suburban schools versus 44% at Langa Secondary, one of the biggest high schools in the Langa Township, where only 20% of its students wrote maths and 23% of students wrote physical science (per National Department of Basic Education). Lower matric rates among disadvantaged township youth have significant repercussions on their future job prospects. The most recent National Census (2011) showed that the unemployment rate for 25 to 35 year olds whose education level was “less than matric” was 47%, compared to 35% for those who had a matric and 20% for those with a diploma or post-school certificate.
In 2004 and at the suggestion of The Scalabrini Centre, a Cape Town-based NGO that helps refugees integrate into South African culture, a group of teachers who had emigrated from other African countries founded the LEAP Learning Centre. The Centre’s purpose was to offer free math and science tutoring to disadvantaged upper primary and high school students from the Langa Township. From inception, the Learning Centre was supported by LEAP Science and Maths School, a network of independent, no-fee schools in South Africa that promote equal access to quality education by giving marginalized youth from townships the academic and life skills they need to become future leaders. In March 2015, the LEAP Learning Centre became The Ithemba Lethu Learning Centre (Ithemba Lethu means “hope”), an independently registered non-profit organization (NPO). It continued operating under the umbrella of LEAP through December 2016, but is now running as an independent organization. What started in 2004 as tutoring for students in five primary schools in the Langa community has grown to serve ~1,000 students from 11 primary schools in five Cape Town townships (Langa, Crossroads, Gugulethu, Delft and Kuilsrivier) and over 300 secondary students from over 60 high schools annually. Ithemba’s current leader, Sammy Ntumba, was part of the first group of teachers referred to LEAP by the Scalabrini Centre.
EMpower’s 2nd grant to Ithemba Lethu Learning Centre will support weekly tutoring in math and science for ~1050 upper primary school students and ~295 secondary students from Cape Town townships to strengthen their academic performance in these subjects, while also providing a computer literacy program for 120 upper primary students to help prepare them for secondary school.
Primary Location: Cape Town
Funded Since: 2016
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