11 Nov Newsletter
Dear Catch-Up supporter
We’ve come to the end of the second year of Catch-Up. It’s with a sincere sense of joy and gratefulness that we share some highlights of the past year.
But first, a short background of the Catch-Up programme:
The aim of Catch-Up is to help struggling primary school kids at underprivileged schools to “catch up”. The sad reality in South Africa is that:
- 78% of grade 4 learners do not understand the meaning of the words they are reading (as per the latest PIRLS report)
- our country’s grade 5 learners perform extremely poorly against mathematics skills benchmarks (as per the latest TIMSS study)
Phase one of Catch-Up was to help struggling learners from grade 4 to grade 7 with Mathematics and English. We do this at their own schools on Saturday mornings, with the help of volunteering tutors and sponsored learning material. Since March 2018, Catch-Up has been operating at four underprivileged schools around Tshwane, where we had eight tutors per school every Saturday.
We then started to expand the Catch-Up programme late in 2018, to offer a wider range of services to the learners and to assist the schools with other needs.
Yamaha Music South Africa has an existing outreach programme to assist underprivileged schools with music instruments and teaching. With their help, we trained three school teachers at Olifantsfontein Primary and, early in 2019, each one of these teachers started to teach music to 20 kids. The 60 kids went on to perform at several school functions. For the first time ever, the school also entered an official band into their regional Eisteddfod competition – which they went on to win! Here is a two-minute highlights video of their excellent performance: https://youtu.be/yCv2DnZiwjo .
We subsequently trained another 12 teachers at two schools in Olievenhoutbosch (Walter Sisulu Primary and Paradise Christian School) and they are now teaching music to over 100 kids twice a week. Click here to have a look at the excitement among the kids when the music teaching programme was launched at their schools: https://youtu.be/LLuokVQSSQU .
With Yamaha’s amazing support we plan to roll out the music programme to several more schools during 2020. Initially each teacher and child received a recorder instrument. We will also introduce additional instruments to each school’s band next year.
Let’s be creative and do some art!
Two of our regular Saturday morning volunteers, Rochelle and Stephan Steyn, offered to facilitate monthly art classes instead of helping with English and Mathematics tutoring. They sourced equipment and material and created a wonderful opportunity for underprivileged kids to have fun and be creative. Look at some of the kids’ amazing creations through the past year!
Proper websites for each school
Lucky Beard is a digital consulting business which has supported Catch-Up from our inception.
Mark Schefermann and his Lucky Beard team were generous enough to create the initial website and other branding elements for Catch-Up. They continued to volunteer their services and are in the process of developing a proper website for each school. This will significantly improve communication between the school and its parents and other stakeholders. The websites will go live before the end of 2019. A few teachers from each school are also learning a brand new skill – that of managing and maintaining their schools’ website content.
Phase two of Catch-Up: computer-based learning
At the Saturday tutoring sessions, we realised how much these learners are struggling with very basic concepts and skills (such as word recognition when reading, and simple bonds and multiplication tables when doing mathematics). Many of these skills do not necessarily require personal tutoring, but rather the opportunity to be able to practise, practise and practise. Computer-based training programmes, in a structured environment with enough guidance, are ideal tools to address this situation.
We also realised that most underprivileged schools in Gauteng once had a functional computer lab. However, at each school we have visited, these labs are now “store rooms” with no working computers. Catch-Up started to collaborate with The Click Foundation (TCF), a large NGO operating across South Africa. They assist schools to revamp their computer labs by installing cost effective laptops, Wi-Fi Internet connectivity and learning software applications. They also provide funding and training support for two full-time computer lab facilitators at each school.
The crucial recipe for success in TCF’s model is that the school needs to adapt its weekly roster to allow each learner to spend two class periods per week in the lab during normal school time – under the guidance of dedicated and well-trained computer lab facilitators.
The schools need to raise funding in order to purchase the laptops. Catch-Up launched a fund raising initiative towards the end of 2018 and we managed to raise over R350,000 for the sole purpose of funding the purchase of these laptops! During the first half of 2019, 150 laptops were installed at three township schools, enabling several thousand kids to improve their English and Mathematics via computer-based learning.
For Catch-Up this initiative is not only about implementing the TCF solution at each school. We have already agreed with TCF and with each school that we will be able to use the labs in the afternoons (during the week). We believe we can make a big impact if we encourage struggling learners to spend time in the labs after school, to practise and catch up on their English and Mathematics.
We plan to raise more funding during 2020 in order to help more township schools revamp their computer labs and getting many more learners to use these labs in the afternoons to “catch up”.
The dream is for the “store room” at each school to be transformed as follows:
A big thank you to all our supporters!
Catch-Up has received enormous help from many people. We’d like to acknowledge and thank the following people and organisations:
- Mariske Keyter and the whole team at OUTsurance’s Staff Helping SA OUT, for continuing to arrange volunteering tutors at two schools each week. (See outsurance.co.za.)
- Lielie Viljoen and Jacob Cloete from Tulip Tutors at the University of Pretoria. Tulip is a group of volunteering students and they arrange the tutors for one of our schools each week. (See @tuksleadership on Facebook.) With the help of Rimbi Shingange and UP’s Debating Society we are also exploring the opportunity of offering public speaking classes at our schools.
- Mark Schefermann and his team at Lucky Beard, the digital consulting business, for their help with our website and design work as well as for helping our schools to have their own websites. (See luckybeard.co.za.)
- Eustace Wilken from Yamaha South Africa, for all his time and commitment towards our exciting music teaching programme. (See yamaha.co.za.)
- Grant Coote and Anton Roseler from In The Kitchen, the corporate catering company which continues to provide and deliver food parcels for all the learners at each school each week. (See www.inthekitchen.co.za.)
The gentleman on the right is Sam Machokoto. He has been delivering the food parcels to all the different schools across Tshwane each Saturday morning for the past two years. Always with a big smile on his face!
- Estelle Barnard’s Study Champ, which provides us with all our English and Mathematics learning material and worksheets. (See studychamp.co.za.) Estelle also serves on the board of Catch-Up Community Projects NPC.
- Our other board members, Tania Gouws, Willem Gouws and Johan Poggenpoel for their wonderful help and support.
- Each donor who contributed to our fund raising initiative and helped to provide laptops for the computer labs.
- The principals and staff at each Catch-Up school, for their support and commitment to the programme. They are:
- Lesibana Molepo at Olifantsfontein Primary in Clayville
- Ivy Mokoena at Paradise Christian School in Olievenhoutbosch
- Garos Kabinde at Walter Sisulu Primary in Olievenhouthocsh
- Vusi Khumalo at Boikgantsho Primary in Mamelodi
- Fanie Songo at Umthombo Primary in Mamelodi
And most importantly, a huge thanks to all the volunteering tutors who gave up their Saturday mornings to help make a difference at the Catch-Up schools!
- The following volunteers tutored at least five times during the course of the year and therefore deserve a special mention:
Most people want to make a difference, and lending a hand to help educate young South Africans is a fantastic way of building our country’s future. Catch-Up offers enjoyable and sustainable opportunities to volunteer, and these opportunities will simply become more as we expand to more schools and add new elements to our programme.
Please visit www.catch-up.co.za for more information on how to get involved.
We look forward to seeing you at Catch-Up soon!
083 600 4359