Picking up the pieces post-COVID: Education in Knysna is changing in the wake of the pandemic.
At a celebration of 30 years of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child, Serena, a child advocate, said this to the Committee: “Don’t give a voice to the voiceless; just pass the mic”…
As human beings, we are all born ‘free and equal’ but don’t all share the same opportunities even though we all share the power to create opportunity. COVID-19 has reminded us how interconnected we are. We all learned that what happens to one will soon affect us all, and this should remind us that how we respond in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic is critical.
So how can education change and grow in the wake of the pandemic?
As society looks to rebound from the pandemic, the ideas and resources our education system needs to endure and progress will look very different from before.
The current local education crossroads reminds us that what affects our children has to be addressed by all of us. Every South African child surrounded by a community-based network of support is one more child that will be empowered for success later in life.
With the proper support, these same children will be a significant asset to the economy and can build a positive social trajectory for South Africa. And while we may be staring at a gloomy educational status quo in the world at large, fixing the situation is possible if we choose focussed, innovative, and effective action to support our children without delay.
So, for education to empower children, we must do more than inform; we must provide our children with the tools to reach their full potential so that every child in Knysna is equipped for work success. At KILT, we provide 13 253 public school children with the resources and the confidence to claim their educational rights. In 2021 we reached 10943 learners directly through our projects. We believe that offering the best possible education to all of our kids is critical to our society.
KILT’s support doesn’t end in the classroom
Young people themselves are often the parents of children, so providing parenting support is crucial to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Our Parenting Programme focuses specifically on providing support and guidance and in 2021 we reached a supported 2375 parents encouraging positive relationships with their children.
Teachers have a significant part to play in leading the recovery from the losses of the past two years. KILT is sponsoring 124 posts in our 17 schools, including 56 posts for teachers and teacher assistants.
KILT supports 462 school teachers based on the conviction that it takes informed, committed, inspired, and passionate educators to lead schools to greatness. In 2021, 313 of those teachers were directly enrolled in KILT projects. The Leadership Development and Teacher Wellness projects provide much-needed emotional support and guidance to teachers and school administrators to have the tools to address the many challenges.
Our e-Learning Integration Project is an excellent example of how play opportunities enhance children’s mastery of academic concepts and build motivation to learn. Based on the premise that play is the best way for children to learn – and thrive, this initiative helps bring kids up-to-speed in subjects like Maths and English in novel and exciting ways. The LEGO Robotics Project and Coding programme are also game-changers for equipping kids with 21st Century skills like coding and programming.
Since its inception in 2017, the KILT affiliated high schools’ combined pass rate has increased and surpassed the national rate. And although there was a definite decline in the pass rate in 2020 and 2021, linked to the impact of COVID-19, the pass rate was still higher than the national average. Additionally, there has also been an increase in the bachelor passes, meaning more matriculants can further their studies through university. In 2021, through KILT’s Vocational Guidance programme, 178 Gr12s were assisted with submitting university applications and were provisionally accepted
“We are challenging the educational narrative that privilege is the only means to flourish…”
Setting a great example
These results prove that our projects are working and our support is paying off. Our Knysna initiative is an example of education innovation that continues to address inequality and provide access to opportunity.
In every town and every city, a powered-up public school system is the right of this country’s children. Education is critical to our children’s futures, rich and poor alike. Our institutions need to come together to tackle the stumbling blocks presented by this crisis and leapfrog education into the future.