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Learning boost for NC schools

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This is a key step to ensure a functional and effective school environment.

File photo: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)

AN EDUCATION programme, launched 18 months ago by Anglo American in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, is on track to improve learning outcomes for nearly 16 500 pupils at 26 schools around the company’s mining operations in the Northern Cape.

The Anglo American South Africa Education Programme was launched by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, and outgoing Anglo American deputy chairperson, Norman Mbazima.

Following a “whole school development” approach, the goal of the programme is to improve literacy, numeracy, mathematics, and English levels by addressing some of the underlying reasons for poor education outcomes, including supporting school management teams, governing bodies, principals and teaching staff.

“We’ve made good progress in setting the programme up for success. A significant amount of time has gone into meeting directly with members of the school governing bodies, teachers and principals. This groundwork is important to ensure that the programme makes a real and lasting difference to the lives of our pupils in the Northern Cape,” Sindiswa Gaven, the community engagement and development manager at Anglo American’s iron ore business, Kumba, said.

In consultation with the Department of Education and other stakeholders, Kumba’s local teams, Anglo American’s managing service provider JET Education Services, and its partner for Whole School Development, Kagiso Shanduka Trust, the process of selecting schools, introducing the programme, and conducting a situational analysis to understand the challenges has been completed.

Empowerment and transformation workshops have been held for each school, including representatives from the governing bodies and some pupil leaders, to empower the school staff to take ownership for the required change.

Education NGO Save the Children South Africa has completed an analysis of many early childhood development (ECD) sites around the 17 selected primary schools in the Northern Cape, and the resulting interventions will be ready for implementation in some of these ECD sites in 2020.

The next step will be to provide training and coaching to ensure each school has a sound school improvement plan that is owned and actively implemented by the governing body, management team, teachers and pupil leaders. This is a key step to ensure a functional and effective school environment.

Andrew Mejanie, principal of Postdene Primary School, located in Tsantsabane – a community where Kumba’s Kolomela mine operates – said the retreat has already had a positive effect on the levels of teaching and learning at his school.

“As teachers, we often attend workshops that could actually have been conducted simply by giving us handouts. This was totally different. We had incredibly inclusive discussions around our role as teachers, and how we showed value each other and the pupils,” Mejanie stated.

“When we came back, we realised there are things that we should change. Punctuality is not about arriving at school on time and sitting in the staff room. It’s about being at the class before the children, not keeping them waiting. For many of our children, we are the only role-model they have, and their best chance at success in life – and that’s an immense responsibility.”

The programme is one of the first initiatives under Anglo American’s sustainability strategy, launched last year. One of the pillars of the plan is to create thriving communities close to the company’s operations, with education as a key building block.

“When we launched this programme 18 months ago, we shared a vision of building thriving communities with schools with highly motivated pupils and teachers, parents that are involved, and effective school management teams to achieve a quality education,” Yvonne Mfolo, executive head of corporate affairs at Kumba Iron Ore, said. “We are confident that we are on our way to achieving this, and making a real difference to the lives of thousands of pupils.”

The following schools have been selected to participate in the programme:

Batsweletse Primary School,

Dibotswa Secondary School,

Gled Red Primary School,

Kegomoditse Secondary School,

Kopano Intermediate School,

Lemumo Primary School,

Letlhakajaneng Primary School,

Moedi Secondary School,

Motshwarakgole Intermediate School,

Nametsegang Secondary School, Omang Primary School (all Kumba Sishen),

Agang-Thuto Primary School,

Asmandia Primary School,

Assmang Primere Skool,

Hoerskool Postmasburg,

Htt Bidi Memorial Primary School,

Khosis (Met) Primary School, Laerskool Postmasburg,

Postdene Primere Skool and Ratang-Thuto Secondary School.

The programme hopes to achieve a variety of pupil-focused targets, including: 90% of pupils aged five achieving the minimum requirements for school readiness; 90% of Grade 3 pupils passing with at least 50% in numeracy and literacy; 75% of Grade 6 pupils passing with at least 50% in mathematics and English First Additional Language; 65% of Grade 9 pupils passing with at least 50% in English First Additional Language; 90% matriculation pass rate, with a 50% university entrance; and 65% of Grade 12 pupils passing with at least 50% in mathematics.