Children's Helpers Worldwide is aiming to support two aspects of ORT SA CAPE's work in Cape Town. The first allows children from disadvantaged areas to gain exposure to science and technology directly, through doing robotics and visiting the Science Centre. The second trains teachers to effectively teach children how to read, which has a great impact on their progress in all subjects, including maths.
Research shows that, in South Africa, 6.5 million children under 6 are deprived of critical early learning opportunities. For every 100 children entering school, 40 will complete their Matric exams (in their final year of high school); 28 will pass; 4 will study further and 1 will graduate with a degree in science or technology. In addition, many children are not able to read well by the time they reach Grade 4. Teachers at that stage have not been trained to teach basic reading skills.
ORT SA CAPE's science workshops allow children from impoverished communities to gain exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the STEM subjects) through doing robotics. Through robotics, the children develop innovative solutions to problems, create something from scratch according to their own ideas, and engage practically in teams. The literacy trainings enable teachers to teach more effectively and this has a multiplier effect as it will impact many disadvantaged schools.
These projects are part of ORT SA CAPE's wider programmes, which include educational research, evaluation and training. The children's workshops build the confidence of participants and can inspire a long-term interest in the STEM subjects. This opens the children's minds to the possibility of careers in STEM. The literacy trainings will ensure that teachers in disadvantaged areas are better equipped to deliver a quality education. This will give the children more opportunities for the future.