Cape Town - When siblings Grant Edmond and Laura Macfarlane had a vision to make a difference in underprivileged communities, they knew they had to initiate a programme that would benefit under-resourced youth to equip them to become meaningfully involved in society through further education or employment.
Just Grace, a non-profit organisation that has been creating hope in the community of Langa was established in 2012. For nine years it has been assisting the youth in the area with its education programmes which involve after-school tutoring, mentoring, career guidance, university/college application assistance and computer training for Grade 10 to matric learners.
Just Grace business development office manager Lindiwe Kers said that when Edmond and Macfarlane conducted some research in various communities to see where there was a need, Langa was a good fit. She said they only started off in one high school tutoring maths and science to 30 Grade 10 learners for two hours on a Saturday.
Kers said an extra grade was then added each year with the goal of opening to all high schools in Langa.
“In 2016 we moved to our current premises at Langa High School and by this time we were working with Grade 10s-12s. In 2018 Grade 9s were added to the programme, as well as coding, book clubs and psychosocial support. This was part of the goal to teach learners how to learn using the resources that they have available to them,” said Kers.
The organisation has expanded and is now offering four overarching programmes of which three are connected with the goal of youth empowerment.
While the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has not been able to determine the number of learners who have dropped out of school in the province since the start of the pandemic, according to figures released by the Department of Basic Education in November last year, 114 588 public school pupils in the province could not be accounted for.
Executive director Grant Edmond said that to address the challenge of the school drop-out rate in Langa, the organisation framed the “Learner Engagement Programme” and piloted the programme last year. He said this was inspired by the 30.4% student drop-out of Langa students between Grade 10 and matric in 2017.
The initiative partners with principals and teachers working in high schools to identify learners at risk of dropping out. It also supports at-risk learners in schools and assists in trying to reintegrate those who have already dropped out back into the school system.
He said learners that were identified as high or medium risk were reclassified as low- or no-risk learners after participating in the programmes.