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Mar 7, 2017

After School Programs as Game Changers

Boxgirls at the After School Symposium
Boxgirls at the After School Symposium

Change the Game!      
As part of the community of practice, Boxgirls South Africa was invited to the Western Cape Government After School Symposium which took place on the 16th and 17th of February. The symposium was part of the After School Game Changer initiative that aims to increase the number of disadvantaged young learners in After School programs – in particular girls and young women.

One of the most emphasized points by attending thought leaders, NGOs, academics and practitioners from the government was the importance of involving the community into the education process. Parents that actively support their children’s attendance in After School Programs, significantly improve educational opportunities.

“We know that regular, well-structured after school programmes improve educational outcomes, reduce drop-out rates, increase self-confidence and improve potential for work placement”, Premier Helen Zille says.

With Boxgirls, we work at the core of this issue – and advocate for the right of girls to have education opportunities in violence-free neighbourhoods.

Strengthening the community      
With Boxgirls South Africa, three decisive pillars towards girls’ rights and education arise: Carrying out successful After School programs, creating strong networks and raising awareness for the demand and importance of such programs in public.     
Harnessing the energy of social initiatives and NGOs in the After School space is a crucial step towards increasing the quality of education – in particular in the most disadvantaged schools in the Western Cape.

In 2016, we were able to reach around 850 students in 19 different schools with the Boxgirls After School Club. As we are dedicated to strengthening the bonds between schools, children, parents and civil society organizations, we continue to organize community events and grasp advocacy work as a game changer, too.

“By working together we can ensure our young people are provided with the ladder of opportunity they need to make a success of their lives”, Premier Zille says. Or as Andiswa Madikane, Head Coach of Boxgirls, puts it: “Boxgirls South Africa is kicking down the doors that stand mid girls and their dreams”.


Best wishes and lots of thanks for your support,

Your Boxgirls team

Girls at the Boxgirls After School Club
Girls at the Boxgirls After School Club
Mar 3, 2017

RespAct project days in Kreuzberg

Characteristics depicted on flowers
Characteristics depicted on flowers

RespAct in schools, libraries and youth centres

Last time we reported about the grand opening of Jens-Nydahl Primary School’s new library in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Since then, there was a lot of RespAct action in the district in general and in the school in particular. Last week, one 30 children took part in a project day, spending time in getting to know camera work, crafting flowers and describing them with individual characteristics. As a matter of fact, fun sports pedagogical games were part of the project day as well. Furthermore, the children formulated their desires for changes on nearby playgrounds in Kreuzberg – which will be the next project carried out on behalf of RespAct. Playgrounds as safe spaces and places for learning adventures and sports events contribute to the quality of living in the neighbourhood – both for the children and inhabitants.

In February, we also had the opportunity to pilot RespAct in the youth club CHIP in Kreuzberg. Children and adolescents from the neighbourhood participated in our approved modules.

Exciting spring and summer camp ahead

The next RespAct programs are already in the making. Through our multiplier strategy we are going to reach a lot of teachers with our workshops as well – in particular those educating in welcome classes and supporting refugee children with the RespAct modules.

Furthermore, the RespAct team is in the middle of preparations for the upcoming summer camps 2017 in Berlin. The participants will be children with refugee background in particular. Besides conveying exciting science experiments, the camps will be a catalyst to overcome social and cultural barriers and supporting children in a new society.  

Best wishes and lots of thanks for your support,

Your RespAct team

Children formulating changes for playgrounds
Children formulating changes for playgrounds
Overview of Kreuzberg Mittelpunktbibliothek
Overview of Kreuzberg Mittelpunktbibliothek
Dec 20, 2016

Jens Nydahl Library School Opening

Cansel Kiziltepe (SPD) & Caroline Assad (RespAct)
Cansel Kiziltepe (SPD) & Caroline Assad (RespAct)

“Reading promotes language development and continues to develop [the mind]”, said Cansel Kiziltepe, the SPD spokesperson who served as the guest of honor at the grand opening of Jens-Nydahl Primary School’s new library.

In Berlin, Jens-Nydahl Grundschule is known for being one of the most difficult primary schools in the city. The school is located in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Berlin where many children come from homes with unemployed or underemployed parents, are non-native German speakers and are often children of economic or forced migrants. Parents with the means to do so, often skirt around districting laws to send their children to other schools.

Far from being complacent, the leadership of the school has acknowledged the urgent need to address the school’s negative image and have reached out to RespAct to help them reenvision education and opportunity for both the school and its students. The library opening is one of several initiatives to better equip the school to address the needs of its students. The new library at Jens-Nydahl Grundschule will be one of the few public spaces in Kreuzberg where students have an oasis of calm, fully stocked and ready to help them learn and grow.

“The school we work with in Kreuzberg has had many image problems”, says RespAct Project Manager Caroline Assad.  “Being a segregated school in Kreuzberg, often the school clients [children and parents] were made responsible for that problematic image problem.”

Over the last year, RespAct’s project managers and coordinators have conducted a series of workshops with the school to help them overcome some of their most pressing challenges. Earlier this year, we conducted a 360 degree survey meant to give us a general overview of the challenges that the school is facing. From that survey we developed evidence-based methods for bringing the stakeholder's perceptions in alignment with each other. Specifically through creating more platforms for exchange.

RespAct uses collaboration and direct partnerships with the communities that we work in to find solutions to local challenges, and where children are active participants in building a stronger and safer democracy.

Working with children to build stronger democracies means that we also need to work with teachers and educators. “Working our way through with the teachers on their perceptions and judgements on the situation and the people they are serving, we have gone a long way in helping the educators become aware of their responsibilities and their scope of action instead of focusing on what's out of their control”, Caroline explains.

The Jens-Nydahl library opening was not a RespAct sponsored event. But through our work with Jens-Nydahl Grundschule, and the fact that most of our staff members live in and around Kreuzberg, the school, neighborhood and kids all have a special place in our hearts. Being able to work closely with one school in our local neighborhood reinforces our commitment to work with children from Berlin’s toughest neighborhoods.

Every child deserves a quality education and a safe neighborhood to call home. In difficult urban spaces where children, particularly girls, are one of the most vulnerable groups, safe public spaces like libraries and playgrounds are necessary components of building an inviting and nurturing environment.  

Kiziltepe reading to children at the library
Kiziltepe reading to children at the library
Door to the Library
Door to the Library
 
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