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Education for Children in Rural South Africa

by Thanda UK
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Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Education for Children in Rural South Africa
Amahle
Amahle

At Thanda, we are fixing the broken education system in South Africa by holistically supporting youth through creative learning, ultimately cultivating empowered, resilient, lifelong learners.

To better understand how our Creative Learning Curriculum is disrupting traditional educational models and supporting children in their ability to learn, grow and lead, we invite you to meet five children of the children in our After-school Programme – Lisakhanya, Amahle, Vuyani, Melokuhle, and Simtholile.  

 

Meet Amahle

Meet Amahle! Through the implementation of our Creative Learning Curriculum, which disrupts traditional education models, we are supporting Amahle and children like her in their ability to learn, grow and lead in their lives and in their communities.  

“I’m Amahle. I am 7 years old. At Thanda, I have learned about different books… I like learning, I even told my family about the book we read about Hoppy, and when I grow up, I want to be a teacher so that I can share my love of learning.”

Nomusa, Amahle’s Grandmother - “Amahle is a very active child, she is very helpful in the house. Since going to Thanda, she has become more disciplined when it comes to her school work, and she has gotten better when it comes to the way she carries herself. She shows zeal for the work she does at Thanda, and even shows zeal for her regular school work.

If someone asked me about the Thanda After-school Programme, I would say take the child to Thanda! As I think about Amhale’s future, I want her to study and succeed. She said she wants to be a teacher and I hope that what she wants for herself comes to fruition.”

 

Meet Lisakhanya 

“My name is Lisakhanya, I am 6 years old,” says Lisakhana, all big smiles, “Every day when I wake up, I’m excited to start my day with a bath and to get ready for school.” As she speaks, Lisakhanya wiggles around in her chair, brimming with the energy of youth. “My favourite thing about Thanda is playing and reading books,” she says, glancing behind her to her where friends are running around and laughing. “I like reading books like Oh No, George, Odd Dog Out, and Spiderman. If I had to choose one book out of these, it would be Spiderman because I like that he saves people!” Lisakhanya looks to her friends again, obviously ready to join in the fun, so we thank her for the chat and she runs off.

Lisakhanya didn’t always love playing and being around other children though. Her current carefree attitude was something she has learned over time, through the partnership between Thanda’s After-school Programme and her guardian. “When I first started facilitating Lisakhanya,” says After-school Facilitator, Noma, “She used to struggle with sharing, but through the ongoing lessons she’s learning at Thanda, she has been changing,” Noma tells us about a time when, following our Creative Learning Programme, the children in the class were making art related to a book they had read. In the early days of After-school, Lisakhanya would have grabbed the crayons for herself. Now, she makes sure there are enough colours to go around! “She waits her turn and helps the other children when they need something,” says Noma, “I think she’s becoming a good example to her peers because when Lisakhanya sees another child doing something wrong, she’s able to intervene or tell me about what’s going on. I think the books we read for them really make a difference in that because you can see she relates to the story.” 

Noma, Lisakhanya’s After-school Facilitator - Thanks to Thanda’s library, Lisakhanya’s learning can continue at home. “I check out books from the Thanda Library so that I can read them at home. Mom or my brother, Mpendulo, sometimes help me read the books.” Thembisile, Lisakhanya’s guardian, also takes an active role in encouraging Lisakhanya’s development. “I’ve seen Lisakhanya’s guardian come to the Guardian Trainings before,” says Noma, “And I believe she implements what she learns there with her children because I’ve had her tell me how much she appreciates the value Thanda is adding to her children’s lives.”

 

Meet Vuyani

“My name is Vuyani. I’m 6 years old. I love everything about Thanda! My favorite book is “Spiderman”. I wish I could help people like he does and be as strong as he is, so when I grow up I want to be a soldier. I love my community because this is where we get our food and water! If I could give back to the community in any way, I would build more houses and water taps. My favourite food to eat from Thanda is rice and chicken!” 

Noma, Vuyani’s After-school Facilitator - “Vuyani is a very bubbly child, he smiles a lot, and he just loves people. He has always been a sweet, very empathetic child. If something bad happens to another child, even if it doesn’t involve him, he will come to tell me or intervene in some way. He sees himself as older than the other children, he has this big brother “I will protect you” attitude. It’s probably because of how much he loves Spiderman.

I think I have special moments with Vuyani every day because he’s always so present; he helps me offload the daily meal from the Thanda car, he helps me hand out art supplies, he even helps me dish up for the children – he’s a very big help! He still struggles with being patient with his work though, he’s always in a rush to finish. If there was a piece of advice I would give Vuyani, it would be for him to continue being the kind and loving person that he is and for him to aim high and keep the right role models for himself because he has the potential to be what he admires the most.”

 

Meet Melokuhle

“My name is Melokuhle and I’m 6 years old! At Thanda, we learn how to read, to colour in and draw, to cut and make masks for our plays, and we get to watch movies! My favourite is drawing. When I grow up, I hope to be a police officer!” 

Nomzamo, Melo’s Guardian - “Melo was born in this community and he grew up here. It’s just him and I living together here, our other family is in Durban. He is very attentive, and if he has gone somewhere, he will come back and tell you exactly what happened. He loves people and other children. Since he started Thanda, I see a change in his attitude because he has become more free and confident. He loves listening and reading books! He asks me to help him with his schoolwork now and he looks forward to reading.

I saw the work that Thanda was doing for other children in the community and the many activities that they have for them. That is why I wanted him to Melo to join Thanda After-school so that he could be a well-rounded and grounded child.

I would like people to know that Thanda helps children. You will find that during the day at school, there are many students in class and there are few teachers. Thanda After-school aids in ensuring that what was learned in class is reinforced. If a child didn’t understand the content in class, Thanda takes the time to help them learn.”

 

Meet Simtholile 

“I am Simtholile. I am 9 years old. I love school and going to Thanda! I enjoy the books we read at Thanda; “Tidy” is my favourite. I like the fact that the book ends with the badger getting help from his friends to put things back to the way they were. I also enjoy interacting with all the children and all the events we have at Thanda! I like that we sing together, and get to watch the other children sing and dance as well. My favourite thing in my life is having friends. When I grow up, I want to be a police officer!” 

Janet, Simtholile After-School Facilitator - “When I first met Simtholile, he wasn’t serious about his school work and he had a tough time communicating with me. He also used to bully the other children; it seems like he had anger stored up inside.

With time, he’s been able to open up and talk about things, and the more he’s done that, the better his attitude has gotten and the more he’s enjoying being around other children. He is now the one who wants to help handout exercises or shares his stationary, and he’s quick to understand instruction and actually volunteer to help the class.

As Simtholile grows, I want to continue to encourage him to be more honest with himself and others about who he is and how he feels, because that will give him peace with his environment. With this peace comes the ability to feel confident in expressing oneself, recognize personal strengths, think independently, and ultimately, flourish.”

 

At Thanda, the children in the Class of 2030 are learning academic skills such as literacy, numeracy, and science while also experiencing interpersonal growth through the development of our five Game-changing Skills: self-esteem, perspective, creativity, critical thinking, and empathy. These skills prepare the children in our community to become leaders capable of creating the changes they want to see in their lives and in their communities. 

All of these stories of change in the children who participate in our Thanda after-School programme and hundreds of others just like this in our Mtwalume community are possible because of the support we receive from you!

We are so close to reaching our 2019 fundraising goal to continue to learn, grow, and lead in 2020! In fact, we are just $1 770 to go! If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year, visit our Project Page.

 

We hope you enjoy a wonderful festive season filled with much love and happiness!

Love Thanda

Janet, Simtholile After-School Facilitator
Janet, Simtholile After-School Facilitator
Lisakhanya
Lisakhanya
Melokuhle
Melokuhle
Noma, Lisakhanya's After-school Facilitator
Noma, Lisakhanya's After-school Facilitator
Nomusa, Amahle's Grandmother
Nomusa, Amahle's Grandmother
Nomzamo, Melo's Guardian
Nomzamo, Melo's Guardian
Simtholile
Simtholile
Vuyani
Vuyani
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Learning facts about Canada
Learning facts about Canada

The Gr 4&5 group and their facilitator, Sandile, took part in a pen pal exchange with children at a school in Canada, which was implemented by our Education Mentor, Kristine Fowles. The exchange enabled children in our After-school Programme to swap letters, artwork and information about their lives and homes with children in South Park Elementary School, Victoria in British Columbia. The ethos of this inner city school is very similar to our ethos at Thanda, where experiential learning is also used to teach children and the importance of the environment and art in everyday life is highlighted, too.

Children in our After-school Programme and children in the Canadian school prepared letters, pictures and videos to share with their international pen pals telling them all about life in their respective communities. To prepare children to write to their pen pals in Canada, Sandile and his group learned about continents and located Canada on the world map. Once they found Canada, they looked at a map of Canada and learned lots of fun facts about the country. They then learned some really interesting facts about Canadian culture. When asked if children enjoyed learning about Canada, Sandile said, "Every year children like to learn about other cultures. Especially cultures they are unaware of. They find it very interesting. They know about countries [but not cultures]."

They also learned about braille because Canadian money has braille on it. Sandile used this opportunity to take his group on a little adventure that really showed them why inclusivity is important. Everyone broke up into pairs. Sandile blindfolded one person and the other person made sure the blindfolded person didn’t fall over. Sandile then made everyone do a trust walk where he gave the blindfolded children instructions on where to walk. He also stopped them from speaking for 30 minutes to explore other ways to communicate, and they even tried to learn some sign language, but that wasn’t quite so easy. Everyone then discussed how it would feel to be blind, deaf or to live with some other disability.

Looking at Canadian wildlife, children in Sandile’s group watched a video about Orcas (Killer Whales) that inhabit the waters around Vancouver Island. They then watched the video Plastic Ocean to learn a little bit about the extent of plastic pollution in the ocean and how it affects the animals and plants living there. They also learned about the Pacific Garbage Patch and efforts to reduce marine plastic pollution. Once they knew a little about the challenges marine life face, children turned their attention to looking at some iconic creatures closer to home. They got to be marine biologists, investigators and critical thinkers when they played Shark Detective. Children were shown a shark jaw and some loose shark teeth, which they had to examine to determine the shark’s species. Everyone carefully handled razor sharp sharks’ teeth and got to compare them with pictures to work out what type of shark they were looking at. They even got to touch and see a real shark’s jaw bone with teeth still attached. Children were asked various questions about the teeth to help them think about how sharks hunt and eat, like ‘why do you think the teeth are the shape they are?’ Everyone cut and decorated their own shark picture and collaborated on a very cool painted shark cut out.

To finish things up with sharks, children played a really fun game where they had to throw bean bags at a shark target to score points and get their gross motor muscles moving. All of the information children learned about sharks is now prepared for sending to their pen pals in Canada so they can learn about sharks too. Canadian children are preparing their letters and artwork about whales for children in Sandile’s class so that they can learn more about whales too.

Learning about sharks and marine pollution
Learning about sharks and marine pollution
Collaborative shark project!
Collaborative shark project!
Everyone played Shark Detective and Shark Target
Everyone played Shark Detective and Shark Target
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Lunch time at our ECD Programme
Lunch time at our ECD Programme

 “It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all.” – Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Former South African President

One of the most influential heroes in South Africa’s history is former president, Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela created a legacy of positive change and we can still see its' impact all over the world. At Thanda, we try to live up to this legacy by empowering people to create positive change. We believe that each one of us has the power to make our shared world a better place for all of its inhabitants. People who choose to use that power to do good, like Mandela, are our heroes and you can be a hero too by joining the Thanda Superheroes!

The Thanda Superheroes are a group of monthly donors who are fighting against food insecurity, poor education, and unemployment – creating real and lasting change in rural South Africa. Many children in our community suffer from stunting due to a lack of healthy foods to eat. Adults struggle to find employment and feel disempowered. Many of the youth attend critically under-resourced schools and do not graduate high school. By using their powers of generosity and courage, our Thanda Superheroes are fighting for a world where everyone can be a hero in their own lives and in the community.  

In 2019, the Thanda Superheroes monthly donations have created security in our community. To date, the support of our Superheroes is equivalent to 10,963 meals for children battling malnutrition, the funds equivalent to providing 12 children with access to Thanda’s Early Childhood Development Programme, or the overhead for providing game-changing skills for 27 children in our After-school Programme. What does this mean for the people in our community? It means that children will be able to, “gain self-confidence and be able to choose career paths that they like without being hindered by lack of knowledge,” says Thanda Teacher, Nomathemba. It means that children like Asanda in our Grade R class can receive high quality education from an early age. “I love the reading of books,” says Asanda. It means that the third of our children that are fighting malnutrition can get the food they need to become strong young community members. “Thanda helps the guardians who do not afford to buy food for their kids,” says local teacher, Miss Nombika. 

Nelson Mandela once said that, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead." On this Mandela Day, Thursday, 18 July, you have an opportunity to take up Mandela’s challenge of creating a better world for all. Become a Thanda Superhero on July 18 and GlobalGiving will match your monthly donation up to $200 USD! Your monthly donation could supply up to 450 meals for children in our community, and with GlobalGiving’s help, that doubles to 900!

While funds last, through GlobalGiving’s matching campaign one time donations of $100 – $499 USD will be matched at 15%, gifts of $500 – $749 USD will be matched at 30%, and gifts of $750 - $1,000 USD will be matched at 50%! Our aim is to ensure that children and youth can receive creative, high-quality education in our community, and with your support, we know we can do it!

Thank you for all you do!

Love,

Thanda

Working on symmetry and empathy in After-school
Working on symmetry and empathy in After-school
Creativity is key to early learning!
Creativity is key to early learning!
Making story boards from recycled materials
Making story boards from recycled materials

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Mrs. Ngcobo and Sandile Dlamini
Mrs. Ngcobo and Sandile Dlamini

Dibi Primary School is more than just a primary school, it is the center piece of the community. Students return to Dibi during school holidays, sneaking onto the school grounds to play, knowing it is a safe place where a child can just be a child. When the school is closed, the close-knit members of the community utilize the grounds as a meeting location to discuss community issues and find solutions.

Recently, the issue on everyone’s mind has been the threat of Dibi being shut down.

With 8 grades housed in 5 classrooms supervised by 4 teachers, the 120 students at Dibi have struggled to get the quality education they deserve. This is an average of 15 students per grade, however they have had to combine grade levels, classrooms, and find resources wherever possible. A grade 3 teacher, Mrs. Ngcobo, says it is nearly impossible to teach Grades 3 and 4 in the same class when they are learning in different languages: IsiZulu and English. The community sought to bring more teachers to the school, but the Department of Education refused, stating that a grade must have at least 40 students in order to receive an educator, and therefore, Dibi should be shut down.

Dibi is the only primary school in its area, the next closest school is already over populated and a long distance away. For the little legs of primary schoolers, that trip to school would be insurmountable. When it rains, the roads to the other school flood, making the trip even more dangerous. Without Dibi, there is nowhere for these children to receive the education they deserve. Instead of letting the Department’s verdict take away opportunities for the 120 Dibi students, the community and Thanda decided to stand up, refusing to let Dibi be closed down. In January 2019, we sent two of our After-school Facilitators to assist in full-time teaching. We also moved 15 children enrolled in Grade R and their Teacher at Dibi to our Community Centre in one of our empty ECD classrooms, which would free up some classroom space at the school. Today, the school remains open, but the fight for adequate resources continues.

Two key players in that fight are Mrs. Ngcobo and Sandile.

Mrs. Ngcobo is a Grade 3 Teacher from Mtwalume, an urban area, who was relocated to rural Dibi in 2015 where she immediately saw the challenges faced by the school, like under-staffing, under-resourcing, and under-funding. Despite the daily obstacles, Mrs. Ngcobo did not become complacent. Instead, she said, “No, I will not get used to Dibi as it is. We can make it better. The children deserve better.” Her passion and her drive was reflected in Sandile, Facilitator and Site Manager for Thanda, who has been working at Dibi for the last 5 years. Upon arriving at the school as Thanda’s representative, Sandile “fell in love with Dibi. [He] fell in love with everything about the school; the teachers, everything.” For the years of work Sandile has put in, Mrs. Ngcobo says that, “Through Sandile everything is possible. He works very, very hard. Even when we don’t have water, he organizes it. And he is humble. You can approach him at any time. We love working with him because has big hopes for Dibi and the children.”

Together, Mrs. Ngcobo and Sandile worked tirelessly within the community to develop strong relationships and build a support system for the students. They went to every home in the community where they spoke with the guardians, community leaders, and students to open a line of communication focused around supporting education from all sides. The constant fear of the school's potential closure made it difficult for children to focus, but with the students, teachers, guardians, and Thanda all on board to reinforce learning, they were able to keep the children and their education on track.

The teachers at Dibi, the surrounding community, and the Thanda Facilitators and Staff are all an essential part of keeping Dibi afloat. For example, a Grade 2 child at Dibi was not coming to school and her teacher was worried, but under school regulations, the teacher had no course of action to check on her student. The teacher spoke to Sandile who, through his role with Thanda, was able to conduct a home visit where he learned that the student was living outside of the home and occasionally sleeping near the fence of the school. Sandile, in turn, spoke to the community, and they were able to support the student so that she could return to school. That is the power of the Dibi community. Another student in an adorable video interview from last year feared the school would be shut down and was unhappy to not be able to attend Thanda anymore. He informed us he would continue to come, even if it meant driving in the late afternoon to make it!

Sandile tells us that, “These children are intelligent. They are clever with their surroundings and they catch on to anything fast,” but it is not just the children’s knowledge that makes Dibi special. It’s the 4 teachers instructing 2 grade levels each, without enough resources for either grade. It’s the community fixing broken windows at the school and maintaining the grounds. It’s the students who show up every day and turn in their assignments even though they have spent the last 4 years being told by the Education Department that they weren’t worth the money it took to educate them. It is Mrs. Ngcobo and Sandile’s hope that “the children and community can see the struggle of Dibi and the rise from it with hope for the future.”

We took on this project because we believe in Dibi, The Little School That Could. Now, we need your help to keep Dibi open! We committed to assisting the school without funding and are now in need of supporting the salary of the two After-school Facilitator’s who have become full-time Teachers there as well as implementing resources such as books, art supplies, and other curriculum materials to ensure quality education is provided every day to over 120 motivated students.

GlobalGiving’s Little by Little Campaign allows us to come together and raise even more money for Dibi. On Monday, April 8th at 9 A.M. Eastern Time to Friday, April 12th, GlobalGiving is offering 60% matching on all donation up to $50, because every little bit counts. Matching rewards start at 9 A.M. EST and last until funds run out, so donate early in the week! In addition global giving is offering 160% on all monthly donations (must last four months), regardless of the amount.

Dibi is more than just a primary school at the center of the community, it is also a place of hope. With a little bit of courage and a little bit of generosity, we can make Dibi The Little School That Could.

“This time is an opportunity. This is the time we need to get right.”

– Sandile Dlamini, Thanda After-school Manager and Dibi Grade 4 and 5 Facilitator. 

Sandile and his grade 4 and 5 class!
Sandile and his grade 4 and 5 class!
Student in Grade 3 drawing the parts of the body
Student in Grade 3 drawing the parts of the body
The walk to Dibi Primary School
The walk to Dibi Primary School
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Early Childhood Development - Imaginative Play
Early Childhood Development - Imaginative Play

Over the holidays, children and youth came to our Community Centre to skate, play, and read books while others traveled to visit family. Now, 2019 has started off with a bang! 

In our After-school programmes we added one new class this year, but almost every class has grown in size and excitement! Our first week of After-school lessons began with ice-breakers, fun games, and art activities to introduce ourselves and start learning about our identity. Do you remember After-school Facilitator Janet from two reports ago? Janet (pictured below) facilitates Grade 1 and is most excited to read Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph with her class. Stories are a big part of our Creative Learning Curriculum and helps us take a new approach to teaching game-changing skills like empathy and self-esteem. Odd Dog Out is a story about a dog's life in New York City as she tries to find her place in the world although she doesn't quite fit in. It's lonely being Odd Dog Out and she's willing to go to the other side of the world to look for her place, but it might take a different kind of journey for her to discover that maybe where she's meant to be is right back where she started. We love stories that help children and youth in our community figure out their identity and OWN it.

If you haven’t seen the new video about our After-school Programme visit the link at the bottom of this report to see just how much your support makes an impact!

In our Early Childhood Development programme there were many new smiling faces at the start of January. Although some children were crying because they were missing their guardians, their tears quickly disappeared when the fun began! Our curriculum includes discovery walks, story time, academic lessons, physical activity and more. At the playground, kids get to be free and have fun with their friends. Early childhood development lays the foundation for a child’s life-long learning. To truly make a lasting impact in a child’s life, it is crucial to provide them with socio-emotional, physical, linguistic and academic support so that all children have the opportunity to thrive. 

We also made an ECD Programme video, check it out below! Your support creates so many smiling little faces every day. 

We’re most excited that we expanded our reach in early learning at the end of 2018 with a new pilot programme called Fun Foundations. The programme began because we noticed that many Thanda farmers (our third core programme) had their children or grandchildren with them at the farm because there was nowhere else for their young family members to go. In fact, across the twenty-three Thanda farms, there are 84 children under the age of five, many of them spending their mornings at the farm because crèches are too far away. This lack of educational stimulation can dramatically impact their early learning development. Luckily for them, Manager of Thanda ECD, Nokuthula, had the idea to take ECD to the farms so more children had access to quality learning opportunities. Of the farms we work with, some crèches are as far as 4km away, which doubled as a journey there and back, is too far for little legs to walk every day!

Fun Foundations playgroups take place from Monday to Thursday every morning, when the farmers are working. These playgroups are led by paid Fun Foundation volunteers, who have been hired from the community and are being training by a partner organization, Singakwenza. Currently we have 44 children enrolled across six farms and anticipate expanding in the years to come once we establish the success of the pilot. Nafisa, Fun Foundation volunteer said that she has learnt so much from being a teacher to the children in her playgroup, saying “I have also learned how to help them grow and learn. They can sing rhymes and name colors, or count to five or ten. They know the differences between big things and small things, and they have respect for one another like brothers and sisters.”

Thank you for continuing to create essential growth in our programmes like Fun Foundations. We can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in 2019!

Love,

Thanda

Fun Foundations Playgroup at Thembabantu Farm
Fun Foundations Playgroup at Thembabantu Farm
After-school Games with Musa
After-school Games with Musa
Janet with the book, Odd Dog Out
Janet with the book, Odd Dog Out
Farmer and Fun Foundations Participant Smiling!
Farmer and Fun Foundations Participant Smiling!
After-school Facilitator Mbusi preparing for class
After-school Facilitator Mbusi preparing for class

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Organization Information

Thanda UK

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @thandaproject
Project Leader:
Kirstin Rowbotham
London, United Kingdom

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