Go for Gold joins the global #LightsOnAfterschool movement
Partners in the After School sector, including grant-making and educational support organisation, The Learning Trust (TLT), the Western Cape Government’s Youth and After School Programme Office and the Community Chest, are putting the spotlight on After School. For the first time this year, South Africa is joining Lights On Afterschool, a 20 year old international movement aimed at increasing awareness of the After School sector and its impact on improving learner outcomes and education as a whole. This is a call on all After School organisations in South Africa to participate on 22 October 2020.
“Participating in this movement comes at such a pivotal time, as South Africa’s most vulnerable children have suffered through tremendous learning challenges this year. Continued support for the South African After School sector is essential if we are to mitigate the impact Covid-19 has had on learning, and the #LightsOnAfterSchool campaign highlights the critical role these programmes play in providing equal access to educational as well as psycho-social support,” says Sibongile Khumalo, Executive Director of The Learning Trust.
After School Programmes (ASPs) are organised activities for children to participate in at the end of their formal school day, to include homework assistance and dedicated tutoring, higher institution and job readiness programmes, arts and culture, physical movement, music programmes, feeding schemes, sports and more. Many ASPs also run facilities that offer computer and data access to learners.
“For too long the amazing humans who provide learners with access to these programmes after formal school hours have been hidden. Their critical role in the education system has not been recognised. It is time to shine the spotlight on the amazing work being done to enable every learner to access a rounded education and caring humans behind the work, the Humans of the After School sector,” says Boulle, the Head of Youth and After School in the Western Cape Government.
ASPs influential in bridging the learning gap in lower quintile schools
According to a 2018 Western Cape Government After School report, the education gap in SA is between 4 – 6 years. This means that in a lot of instances, grade 8 learners are working at a grade 4 level. After School Programmes spread across townships, peri-urban and rural areas, serve young people living in poverty and exclusion and work to minimise the access gap of quintile 1-3 schools, which make up approximately 90% of all public schools.
Research reveals how ASPs have been one of the most influential players in minimising the learning gaps of the educational system in these lower quintile schools which are said to experience the highest number of grade repetitions and drop-outs annually.
The first #LightsOnAfterSchool campaign in South Africa
The #LightsOnAfterSchool campaign was launched by the non-profit US-based organisation Afterschool Alliance, in October 2000, and is chaired by Former California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The organisation calls on ASP partners throughout the world to generate awareness of equal and quality access to learning programmes. This year’s 21st annual campaign is dedicated to shining a light on everything ASPs have done in an unprecedented year and will involve hosted events as well as roundtable discussions with policy makers, local community leaders and educational institutions.
“Go for Gold was fortunate to visit some After School Programmes in New York city in late 2019, arranged by the Community Chest and the Western Cape government. It was such an enriching experience learning and interacting with key organisations in New York about how they conduct their after school programmes. Go for Gold are excited to be taking part in our first ever local #LightsOnAfterSchool #AfterSchoolSA campaign. Go for Gold run a 4-phased education-to-employment programme that supports students after school with their academic and career choices. Go for Gold is the catalyst linking youth who are interested in technical vocations to the South African built environment and boasts an impressive participation by 24 built environment companies.”
Go for Gold’s approach to skills development starts by supporting youth in school by providing free weekly Maths and Science tuition and Leadership Development training every Saturday. Working with Grade 11 and 12 students in their Phase 1 programme, the aim is to support youth to achieve Bachelor Passes. In 2019, 98% of their cohort achieved Bachelor Passes. Once school is completed, students undertake a Phase 2 year working on site at Go for Gold partner companies. This submersion into industry facilitates youth to make better decisions about their choice of studies based on experience, for Phase 3, the tertiary phase. Phase 4 is the employment phase of all Go for Gold tertiary graduates. This After School Programme assists students while still at school but also presents a post-schooling career development opportunity that South African youth desperately need in our country.
Community Chest CEO Lorenzo Davids says that the key to healthy and successful After School Programmes is to seek collaborative solutions to social challenges. Crowding in learners, parents, teachers and civil society organisations into an exciting and learner-friendly space to support the Afterschool Programme ecosystem, is the only way to increase learner outcomes.
“After School Programmes are essential to achieving the impact required to turn around South Africa’s negative educational trajectory. The research is clear that providing children .with professional, safe and engaging After School Programmes measurably increases their resilience to circumstances heavily stacked against them”, says Davids.
As an organisation, we will be using the hashtags on social media to highlight the contribution our Afterschool programme is making. The children will create a Lights On Afterschool banner that will be visibly displayed. We look forward to having everyone join us in shining the light on the impact of After School Programmes in our communities.