For me, 2019 was my arrival in Education without Borders. I was given the chance to land by getting exposed to the various aspects of the organization from visiting all the sites, getting to know the staff, assisting with tutor training to learning the systems. It seems that 2019 was a transitional time for many of us.
We saw the launch of a new site at Bellville South primary school, were challenged by load shedding, said goodbye to our Nobantu site coordinator, began a process to review our curriculum, participated in a march to end gender-based violence in addition to our core delivery of after school programmes.
Load shedding, Gender-Based Violence (give some stats), going forward in the process of reviewing our curriculum, our strategy for 2020 is to increase our face to face time by adding Sat as well as additional sessions over the school holidays.
I often asked myself as the Programme Lead for EwB, how do we intentionally influence the educational landscape for our learners to encourage them to grow and develop? Sometimes we have so little control over the environment in which we work. There is a lack of communication from schools, load shedding, and other outside forces that hinder our day to day operations. How do we stop ourselves from getting sucked into the cycle of despair that anything we do will be fruitless and futile?
We remain proud ambassadors of Education without Borders, carriers of HOPE. As we daily make our way to our office in the township of Gugulethu, irrespective of all the challenges, we believe in the difference that we make. We help to build a sense of belonging for our learners and tutors. This assists them in exploring options, asking questions, and making bold comments, all parts in their journey of developing themself.
Reflecting back over 2019, we had some challenges but we also have many reasons to celebrate our existence. When learners come back to show us their improved results, when parents pop into the office to say thank you for the support, or when a principal says ‘thank you!’, we can see the difference.
This year has truly been a life-changing experience for me. It has further cemented my aspirations for a career in working with young people. I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity granted to me through EwB.
Working at Fezeka high school I have seen it has not been easy on learners and teachers with the lack of necessary or adequate resources. For example, they don’t have enough textbooks for each learner. This has a detrimental effect on learning. There are families who struggle to meet their children’s basic needs. There is no balance between school uniforms, stationery, shoes and clothes. Most days the learner's last meal for the day is what they received from school or from EwB after school tutoring program. Each day is a struggle to survive in this impoverished community, HIV and AIDS are high, and young people are suffering from alcoholism, unemployment, violence and drug abuse. Dropping out of school prematurely is a way of life and gang affiliations and violence are common. It is also common for children to leave school to find work to ease the burden on their families. In most cases, kids are reared by extended family or a guardian.
The EwB family is a strengthening team and a source of encouragement that helps learners to gain the confidence to follow a positive path despite the many challenges. We make efforts to create a happy and safe space that works best for learners. I will keep on encouraging and promoting the importance of education and that we are investing in their future so that they can be or make that change.
Mseki Site Coordinator
Let me start by saying I am honoured to be part of the EwB family as a site coordinator for Mseki primary School. I see it as a once-off opportunity. I couldn't resist joining EwB as a person who loves, or should I say is passionate about working with people especially youth and seeing them grow. I’m amazed by the way Education without Borders not only focuses on the learner’s academics but it also provides a chain of support and care that starts from the top and goes all the way through to the learners.
Free space is created that allows learners to have an ethical and positive relationship with the tutors. This allows them to feel empowered and capable of improving their schoolwork and do their best which also promotes self-confidence and discipline.
This past year, 2019 was not an easy ride. We had challenges throughout the year but the great thing is that we managed to work as a team and overcome them. Thanks to the extremely focused Programme Lead and staff members, we managed to come up with new ideas and strategies. We received positive feedback from teachers saying that they see the change and the improvement in the learners attending the programme. Even the learners themselves acknowledge their own progress. We also got parents saying that they are grateful that there is such a program in the school.
I’m really grateful to be part of a program of this magnitude that has such impactful results not only in school but to each and every individual that is part of it. My hope is for it to expand even further.
Bellville South Site Coordinator
Reflecting on the year 2019, I’m aware of the enormous opportunity given to me by EwB to hold the position of Site-coordinator at Bellville South Primary. The amount of trust and confidence the programme lead and founders have shown in me has propelled me to give it my all.
Coming from a Child and Youth background you are slightly exposed to the school academic systems, however, being in this current role you become aware of the complexity and the vast systematic gaps within education. You gain a greater respect for the teachers as well as the learners who are expected to excel under these circumstances. You learn to accept the process and appreciate the progress - as you continuously strive towards improving, and developing the quality of tutoring our learners receive.
This role has been more than just ensuring sessions take place, it has been about the best interest of the child. The greatest success for me this year was the rapport I built with each tutor, learner and educator at Bellville South Primary. It was sitting with my tutors and brainstorming on ways to make sessions more creative. It was engaging with learners who weren’t up for a session on the day who just needed some encouragement. It was giving my tutors the platform to have a voice and the room to give feedback. It was ensuring that each learner walked away having learned something on the day.
Education without Borders is not only helping these learners academically, indirectly they are helping them with their mastery, but they are also giving them a place where they belong, they’re teaching them generosity and more importantly, they’re introducing them to positive role models who look like them and come from communities like theirs. Our learners are not accustomed to hearing how brilliant they are; that they can be anything they want. They’re not used to being celebrated and receiving recognition for small milestones. They’re not accustomed to dreaming bigger or even dreaming at all. At Education without Borders, we see our learners and we celebrate them.
There’s no place I’d rather be than being a part of an organization that dedicates their time to cultivating the minds of children in a positive way.