Letter from Ruth & Cecil Herschler

October 16, 2017 6:25 pm by webadmin

Dear Education without Borders Supporter,

This year, we’ve continued providing educational opportunities for disadvantaged and at-risk children. In total, between 350 and 400 learners at Mseki Primary and Fezeka Secondary benefited from EwB’s support programs in English, Mathematics, and Science. We have many triumphs to share related to EwB’s academic programs:

We implemented a carefully designed Grade 4 English Literacy program to support learners as they switch from isiXhosa to English. Funding received from independent Foundations in South Africa and England will allow for the expansion of the English Literacy program at Mseki Primary to include Grades 4 and 5.

We’ve improved our academic programs to such a level that we’re confident enough to expand our reach to other township schools. In 2018, we intend to start a Math and/or English program in a second township elementary school. Stay tuned for more information on this exciting new venture!

EwB is able to provide initiatives, including academic support programs, school leadership, youth mentorship, and student wellness and resilience because we continuously strive to be a better organization and take steps to make that happen. Our management framework includes ‘on the ground’ leadership by Mark Gamble, weekly Management Committee meetings, and weekly progress reports to us from the various Head Tutors and the Program Manager. For more details, see EwB’s 2016 Annual Report.

Our major challenge (endemic to South Africa) is drop out. There are many reasons for drop out, including family pressure, peer influence, feelings of hopelessness, and gang intimidation. The problem is significant; for example, in 2017 we started with about 80 Grade 8 learners in our after-school Maths and English classes, with only 35 consistent learners by the end of Term 2. We’ve tried various approaches such as speaking with parents and caregivers, getting support from the principal and teachers, incentives, and team building. Our efforts have yielded positive results, with a 10% improvement in drop-out rates.

We know that learners who stick with EwB through Grades 8-11 pass Grade 12 with stronger foundational skills and greater self-confidence. One of EwB’s earliest graduates, Onitha Longwe, whom we first met in Grade 9, obtained her B.Sc. (Physiotherapy) in December 2016 and is now working full time in a hospital in Butterworth, Eastern Province. EwB is bringing her to Vancouver and Toronto in the fall to complete physiotherapy observer placements at various clinics and to deliver presentations on the challenges of being a township learner and what it takes to succeed. We are so proud of Onitha!

We thank you for your loyal support and hope that you will continue to be part of the EwB team.

Yours in education,

Cecil and Ruth Hershler
On behalf of the entire Education without Borders Board

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