The learners come mainly from the inner-city suburbs of Yeoville, Berea and Hillbrow, who attend Barnato Park High School. The programme has also recently widened its reach to also accept boys from Highlands North Boys’ High School.
The learners, 72 of whom are currently enrolled, are identified by their schools as having academic potential during their Grade 9 year. They are invited to attend the academy until their matriculation with a special focus on maths, physical science, English and life skills.
Besides being taught by experienced staff, the boys also receive pastoral care by the college chaplains.
There are 24 learners accepted in each grade, which ensures focused afternoon classes. The academy brags an almost 100% attendance and the boys are to be commended for their commitment and determination as they continue to maintain their full-time studies at their respective schools.
They also attend various camps during the course of their three years - an orientation camp for the Grade 10s, a leadership camp for the Grade 11s and an intensive revision camp for the matrics.
Each year, one boy is also granted a full bursary to study his A levels in sixth form (post matric) at St John’s College.
Daniel Biyekele, a graduate in 2013, felt the impact of the academy’s success. “It's amazing that the academy has been operating for this long. There is no doubt that there are many lives that have been changed due to the programme and I can personally attest to the difference it made to me,” he said.
The academy is run by former Barnato Park High School principal Agnes Nugent, who is positive about the impact that the academy has on the graduates’ lives.
“Many of the boys achieve fantastic results in spite of having very difficult home lives," Nugent said.
"Many live in supported homes and many others have challenging home circumstances which they have to cope with daily.
“St John’s College is essentially an inner-city school, situated across the road from Hillbrow, Yeoville and Berea. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that there should be a relationship between our communities and the two schools.
"The impact that the programme has on the boys who attend the academy is huge. They go back to their schools and are able to help their peers with their school work.
"They are assisted with tertiary education funding and in turn get jobs that enable them to help their families and play meaningful roles in their communities and our country”, added Nugent.
The cost of supporting one learner is R10000 a year. This amount includes their academy uniform, all books, notes, handouts and stationery, transport costs to and from the academy, a hot lunch, tuition and their annual camp.
All costs are funded by donations from parents, members of the St John’s community as well as the corporate sector - all of whom keep the academy afloat financially.
St John’s College has also announced the launch of the St John’s Prep Academy next year.
Grade 5 learners, who show academic promise from primary schools in the surrounding community, will be joining the prep three times a week for maths and English literacy support.