Context: 1.3 million learners start school each year in South Africa, but less than half will ever reach matriculation (high school graduation). There are more than 26,000 schools in the country, and more than 20,000 of them have been deemed ‘dysfunctional’. Almost all of these are in the country’s predominantly poorer, black South African communities and townships.
Despite increases in government education spending, the level of secondary school participation remains well under 50%, with fewer than 10% of youth moving on to higher education. Black learners continuously underperform, particularly in maths and sciences, which puts them at much greater risk of joining the 31% of South Africans between ages 16 & 25 who are not in education or employment (NEETs). Access to South Africa’s universities is limited to a small percentage of youth, less than 10%, and the racial and socio-economic demographics of these students is not representative of South Africa’s population.
Organization: Ikamva Youth (IY) was founded in 2003 when a few university students decided they wanted to do something to address the inequities in educational quality that persist in South Africa post-apartheid. IY provides after-school support to secondary school students three times a week, as well as intensive two-week holiday programs. Volunteer tutors (many previously beneficiaries of the program themselves) provide after-school supplementary tutoring, career guidance, mentoring and computer literacy training free of charge to students from township schools in grades 8-12. There are no academic requirements for entry, but students need to meet a minimum 75% attendance in order to keep their place in the program. Students drive the learning agenda by bringing questions and problems for small group discussion. The pedagogical approach aims to instill a culture of hard work, peer learning and responsibility.
Current Grant: EMpower’s sixth grant to Ikamva Youth provides negotiated general operating support towards Ikamva’s 2015-17 organizational goals to leverage opportunities to scale its work through community collaboration and government partnerships, increase organizational capacity to support and enable effective scale, and strengthen its M&E system and capabilities.