The Umkhumbane Schools Project opens doors to education that remain closed to South African youth 27 years after the end of apartheid. We provide bright, motivated high-school students in the impoverished Cato Manor township area with classes and workshops in math, hands-on STEM, life-skills development, and wrap-around college admissions guidance. Our work impacts a community of schools serving over 5000 students, bringing hope, inspiration, and a growing record of measurable change.
In South Africa, one of the world's most unequal societies, rural and township youth such as those in Cato Manor remain marginalized by educational failure and an enduring burden of poverty. Each year, only a very small minority of these students complete high school at a level of achievement to qualify for higher learning. Failure in math and science is especially persistent and entrenched, leaving South Africa consistently at or near the bottom of international rankings in these areas.
The Umkhumbane Schools Project is an innovative NGO based on-site among a group of schools in the Cato Manor township area. Our Saturday math classes are raising achievement to levels which can enable college admission. Even during the COVID-19 shutdown, we have been able to maintain our maths teaching through a unique program of virtual classes accessible to learners on their cell phones. Since 2013, through our college access program, 95 learners have secured admission to university study.
Our programs are creating a new community of collaboration, shared resources, and friendly competition among a group of disadvantaged, previously disconnected schools. With our focus on areas such as math, science, and college guidance, we will enable greater access to higher education and to high-wage, high-demand areas of employment. This will bring lasting transformation to a whole community, and can be a model for positive change in other disadvantaged settings, in South Africa and beyond.