Learner support

Learner support

Knysna has been classified by the Western Cape Education Department as part of the Eden and Central Karoo under-performing district. Analysis of the schools’ results shows a significant gap between what children should know at the various grades, and what they actually do know.

Grade 12 support
The KILT Board followed the recommendation of principals of the town’s three non-fee-paying high schools – Percy Mdala High, Concordia High and Knysna Secondary – that children in the system at a high grade should be supported, even though this occurs late in the learning cycle.

Two residential tuition camps were held during the 2017 school holidays for Grade 12 learners from the three high schools, as well as blocks of Saturday morning classes with external tutors covering maths, science, physics, life science, economics and other commerce subjects. A total of 300 learners participated in these events, with Concordia High increasing its matric pass rate from 55.1% in 2016 to 74.6% in 2017.

“This project has the potential to be transformative. The kids were really keen on learning and responded well.”
Calumet Links, UCT economics doctoral student and tutor

LEGO Robotics
In an early initiative, KILT, assisted by the University of South Africa, implemented a LEGO Robotics educational program for four teachers and 16 learners (12 girls and six boys) at Percy Mdala High.

In this extra-curricular initiative, students learn to build and automate robots using LEGO plastic bricks, mechanical components and computer software.

The programme is continuing at a more advanced level, and has been expanded to include Knysna High, Knysna Secondary and Concordia High. With all four high schools in Knysna involved, KILT has 10 educators trained in LEGO Robotics and 50 students participating.

“When we started LEGO Robotics we thought it was all about building robots. But it was not just about that. There is a secret weapon behind all of it, which is expressing skills – programming, building, teamwork, self-confidence. Some of us did not know we could be good at such things. But now we have found out more about ourselves, and of course, we would like to take these skills further.”
LEGO Robotics team, Percy Mdala High

Psycho-social and remedial support
Every school speaks to the overwhelming and largely unaddressed challenge of class discipline, special-needs learners, and children in need of remedial testing and teaching, as well as psychological counselling support.

One of KILT’s core focuses is to prepare the school environment for healthy and sustainable change and growth through an ongoing psycho-social support system covering counselling, assessment and referral.

Remedial teaching (including basic literacy and numeracy support) is an integral part of this programme, with a dedicated team of specialists appointed by KILT.

Psycho-social and remedial support is pivotal to the success of any programme. KILT regards it as at least a five-year project.

After-School Study Clubs
Even with other interventions in place, external learner support is needed. School children live in under-resourced communities where extra-curricular interventions face significant obstacles, further impeding teachers’ success in the classroom.

KILT has initiated on site after-school supervised homework programmes as the most effective way to enhance knowledge and skills. This is aligned with Western Cape Education Department policy, which regards it as a Game Changer strategy.

The After-School Study Club runs twice a week for two hours at each school. It provides a safe space for 30 children across all grades, chosen for the potential to improve their academic performance and overall development. Each class is overseen by a teacher, supervisor and mentor.

This programme will serve as the foundation of ongoing numeracy and maths support, planned as an intensive programme in 2019. Once schools are able to introduce e-learning, this will further enhance maths and language tuition.

In time, the schools will take over the management of the After-School Study Clubs. Provision of reliable and safe transport, however, remains a critical challenge.

Extramural sporting activities
Extramural sporting activities and special-interest clubs are important in providing for children’s physical and social development.

Since there is limited space available at many KILT schools, as well as a lack of human resources, KILT is working with established partners to implement its sports initiatives. Active Education is currently running a pilot program in five primary schools and one high school. This will be expanded to all schools in 2019.

Funding is needed for indoor activities that enhance self-esteem and confidence, including boxing, karate, wrestling and gymnastics, and to expand team sports like netball, soccer, rugby and cricket.

Once sports participation from teachers, learners and parents is more robust and self-sustained, KILT will begin shifting its focus to sports amenities and facilities.

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