We are so grateful that we’ve been able to feed vulnerable communities during this time, but food is for preservation, and education is for progress…

We don’t impact a life to preserve it, we impact a life to progress it…and the only way to do this is if we are able to give children in impoverished communities access to online learning.

During the seven years that we have worked with impoverished youth in informal settlements, we have witnessed how far-reaching and detrimental the effects of illiteracy are – 85% of our children were illiterate when they joined our afterschool programme.

This correlates with the results of the international PIRLS 2016* study on South African children which showed that 78% of grade 4 children cannot read for meaning in any language. So even if we solved every social ill in society, and illiteracy prevailed, we would never be able to break the poverty cycle and elevate our children, which is why we place so much emphasis and importance on this pillar of our offering.

In South Africa we were on a full lockdown and all schools and learning institutions were closed. With the shutting down of schools and the disruption and destabilization that this causes, well-resourced schools are offering their students online learning, but our children in impoverished communities who attend low, or no fees schools with fewer resources are unable to access any learning opportunities. They are therefore excluded, just at home, losing time and are idle and unstimulated.

 

The children in these communities were already educationally disadvantaged prior to lockdown, and although the local schools have computer rooms, the primary schools have not offered any computer classes in the past 2 years or more due to technology issues and a lack of technology resources. The High Schools in the area only offer a 45-minute class once per week to Grades 10,11 and 12, which we feel is way too little, too late for youth to become proficient. There is also massive overcrowding with classes of up to 50 students, making one-on-one attention near impossible.

 

We have tried to address this by introducing the Lightsail Reading pilot programme into our afterschool space which allows children to read books online which are tailored to their reading level. We do however require additional resources such as licenses and hardware in order to effectively roll this out to all the children in the community. We would like to give them a fighting chance with an educational programme which runs now, and beyond, promoting student access to virtual teachers and online learning and support.

 

To achieve this objective, we require laptops and wifi modems in order to run virtual, or closed classroom learning. This would entail small groups of children coming into a classroom setting on a rotational basis and being able to access learning resources online. Children could come in for 2 hours per day and our focus would be on Mathematics and English. Special attention would also be given to youth in key grades e.g. Grade 7, 11 and 12.

 

We require an influx of devices like mobile phones, tablets, and laptops in order to make this a reality and we would like to appeal to anyone who can help to make this possible.

Please contact us on info@9milesproject.org or 0829978754 if you have any devices that you’d like to donate.