Changing Lives - Together we can move education to a higher level
Education is a right for all children in the 21st century, isn’t it?... if you can access it.
Since 2005 the Choko project has linked schools in South Oxfordshire with schools in Sekororo, an area of Limpopo Province in South Africa, exchanging children’s work. Choko has raised £150,000 for many projects such as funding a womens co-operative, chicken farming, gardening, rainwater harvesting and building and equipping a disabled centre . For more about what has been achieved in Kodumela visit www.choko.org.uk. Our most successful event over the last nine years is an annual and popular family beer festival showcasing local beers and ciders see www.chokobeerfestival.org.uk
One of the most exciting projects has been developing the schools links by sending learning materials and teaching plans and ideas. This link was established in spite of the inefficient means to transport resources, with parcels taking some 3 months to be received and be returned to us. Language differences and not understanding our teaching methods or terminology also added to the difficulties encountered.
In 2012 Choko funded a visit to Cholsey and Crowmarsh Schools by two headteachers of primary schools in Sekororo. Whilst here they observed teachers and teaching assistants working with underachieving children in small groups outside of the main classroom setting (called ‘intervention classes’). Having them here transformed the link as they watched our teaching, asked questions, took photos and realised the intervention programme could work in South Africa.
Typical class sizes in Sekororo schools are over 50 and individual attention for pupils in the classroom setting is virtually impossible. The results of running the programme were astounding. Children got it. They realised they were not stupid. They COULD do it. They learnt to read, write and add up and in many cases caught up with their peers and moved up grades. After one year of running the intervention programme on average children increased their score in goverment tests by 20 out of 100 across all grades! For example, a child who got 15% at the start of the year got 35% at the end of the year, which is a phenomenal 133% increase!
Kodumela Schools Link Project aims to help educate more than 800 pupils across 17 schools in Sekororo by providing a catch up programme.
Read Lily’s story
Lily is 13 and unable to read or write. She cannot progress to the next school year until she is able to achieve 50% in written tests across the curriculum. Lily is now in a class with 50 other pupils, who are mainly aged 6. Lily cannot read any worksheets she is given so is making no academic progress. Her father died of AIDS and her mother cannot read or write so she gets no help at home. Lily can’t be in a class with her peers which is affecting her social and emotional development.
If she can attend intervention classes at school she will be taught reading, writing and arithmetic in a supportive environment.
A child such as Lily, who has through the programme learnt to read, write and add up will not only pass her expected grades to progress into secondary school but also develop the self confidence to BELIEVE she can succeed and make it out of the poverty trap. This could then lead her away from the subsistence existence she would otherwise be doomed to, such as collecting firewood to sell or in her search for self worth getting pregnant at a very young age.
A case study to illustrate this is Mary - a pupil at Mamokaile School . Mary had struggled to learn to read, much like Lily, her attendance and behaviour worsened . Mary was one of the first children after the initial visit here in 2012 to undertake the programme. Once she could read her behaviour and attendance vastly improved, she passed her grades 4 & 5 and moved up to her peers class in grade 6.
She now volunteers to help other children attending the programme after their school day finishes. When she leaves secondary school she intends to train to be a TA.
What we aim to do
We want to bring a representative from each of the 17 schools to attend a training programme at primary schools in South Oxfordshire.
We need to raise the funds to fly these representatives to the UK. All accommodation will be provided by local volunteers and the training will all be done by UK teachers and teaching assistants at no cost.
Schools beyond Limpopo are already hearing about this work so ultimately the intervention class programme may spread across the whole of South Africa, benefitting thousands of children.
Why bring them here and not just send a team there?
We know from our 10 years working with the schools they need to SEE the teaching, join in with it and ask questions and only then they can actually teach it on their own. If we send a group there as we did in 2015 we can only deliver lessons based on what we can take and our own personal skills with no access to additional expertise. We have no internet there and therefore no access to further resources. However if all 17 schools come here for a week they will work in several schools with many different teachers which will enable them to learn so much more.
They are teachers who once shown, don’t just get it, they process the methods, adapt and plan how they would use it whilst having the extra benefit of being able to question our teachers!
Whilst here we intend the teachers will:
- Visit the range of local schools involved in the programme in small groups.
- Learn how different schools work, the different approaches and strategies used.
- Observe intervention classes, literacy, maths and learning through play sessions.
- Attend meetings after school to assimilate information and discuss any concepts or lessons that still need to be covered.
We know this project WILL work and this is some of our evidence from the 2012 trip of 2 headteachers who we funded to come to the UK to prove it!
- 2 schools set up intervention rooms and projects.
- The results of children who attended the intervention programme improved.
- Teachers we taught and demonstrated new strategies to, have taught these strategies at workshops in South Africa.
We can make a real difference to the real lives of so many of the poorest children in the most rural areas of Limpopo so please please help us. Any donation, no matter how small, WILL help us to change the lives of these children. For instance if 100 people each donate £15, it will enable one teacher to come to the UK.
Each teacher coming here means another school in South Africa helped.
What if we do not get enough money?
The cost of bringing each teacher will be £1500 (based on the predicted cost of flights as of May 2016)
Should we not reach our full amount we will arrange for as many teachers as we have funds for to come in the first instance and then continue to raise funds for the others to come in the future.
Alongside crowdfunder we also intend to apply to grant funding bodies, local businesses and institutes.