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‘Helping kids recover,’ with the Lights On After School movement

Published Nov 13, 2021


The focus will be on helping vulnerable children to recover what has been lost over the last 18 months of the pandemic.

Cape Town - The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport’s Youth and After School Programme Office, The Learning Trust, and Community Chest of the Western Cape have joined forces to drive the second, Lights On After School (LOAS) campaign.

Under the theme #helpingkidsrecover, this year the focus will be how non-profit after-school programmes (ASPs) are helping vulnerable children to recover what has been lost over the last 18 months of the pandemic.

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The sector engaged in various activities throughout October to showcase their efforts to change the lives of SA’s youth for the better.

“Learning gaps are not new; we have long left many young people behind with every year of schooling, leading to grade repetition and dropout. Covid’s trail of destruction has only deepened these learning losses.

“Catch-up intervention is therefore critical, and this is where the ASP sector proves pivotal in improving learning outcomes and nurturing holistic development,” said Sibongile Khumalo, executive director of The Learning Trust.

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School closures during lockdowns have compromised the progress of reading and language skills in learners, especially those who come from vulnerable backgrounds.

Education and literacy experts have predicted that this lost learning time will have a devastating impact on school attendance.

She said that up to 70% of children in the school system both from Grade R to Grade 12 access extra lessons. Therefore organisations that run after school programmes to reach out for financial support and growth, are encouraged to seek funding.

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Manager for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) Youth and After School Programme Office, Wayde Groep said that children have missed out on so much schooling during hard lockdowns, so having this space for them to practise their reading skills was crucial in ensuring they didn“t fall behind.

“After-school programmes have and continue to play an important role in providing learners with safe spaces, access to at-home learning materials and providing much needed wellbeing support in a challenging and stressful time,” he said.

DCAS found that after-school programmes had provided much-needed extra hands and capacity within schools – helping with Covid-19 screening, food distribution and general learner logistics increased self-esteem and wellbeing, was attributed to these programmes by 97% of educators surveyed.

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Going forward, the Department will use LOAS and the month of November to put the spotlight on the critical role of after-school programmes in helping learners find and pursue their passions.

This year’s LOAS campaign invited the support of community and developmental organisations, educational institutions, policy & advocacy entities, as well as donor partners; to engage in conversations on how after-school programmes can be a part of the formal education workforce.

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