Non-profit school excelled beyond department averages

By Siyabonga Kalipa Time of article published Apr 24, 2021

Share this article:

Cape Town - The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has conducted a study aimed at establishing the quality of Education at Christel House South Africa.

The Ottery-based school was established in 2001 and serves about 1000 pupils from communities in the Cape Flats.

The independent no-fee non-profit school allows pupils from poor communities to achieve extraordinary academic results and become self-sufficient adults through its holistic education model.

The study was done by comparing academic results from the school, comparable schools and provincial and national averages through qualitative research, questionnaires and interviews.

This was to show how a mix of agile and innovative teaching and learning methods, an empathetic and loving school culture and practices and an understanding of the home school connection, allows children who come from marginalised communities to thrive.

The model was studied through three things, the results the school achieved compared to other schools; the culture and practices that are implemented and how successful the school is at improving the social mobility of its former pupils.

The school’s chief executive Adri Marais said the information on the mixed approach is available to everyone.

“We hope to inspire other schools to implement these methods, if we can do it and be successful other schools can do it too,” she said.

Marais said the pupils who attend their school are the same as many young South Africans who are seen as multidimensionally poor yet are given the right tools, skills and support and they develop well.

“The saying that talent is everywhere but opportunity is not, is especially true when we look at the disadvantaged youth in South Africa. The HSRC research allowed us to prove that what we call our Christel House magic works,” she added.

A former pupil, Nosiviwe Mpukane, said she started at the school from Grade 1 until 12 and learnt a lot during her time there.

She said it is a great school because it not only teaches one about academics but also about values one needs to hold in life.

“The school moulded me to be the young lady that I am today and would be in the future, it also taught me to be a better person and break the cycle of poverty at home and help in my community,” she said.

She said she was also taught what direction to take in life because where she comes from there are not a lot of role models to look up to.

Mpukane said after completing her matric she did not stay at home because she could’t go to university.

“I was even prepared on what to expect when I go to university and now I’m doing my second year in Law at Stellenbosch University,” she said.

Mpukane added that she would recommend anyone to go to Christel House if they want to make something out of their lives and be better people in future.

HSRC researcher Adam Cooper said the study took about nine months and it was in three stages, they first looked at the academic results; and compared with township schools and former Model C schools.

He said they found the school outperformed quintile five schools in its matric pass rate and their literacy and numeracy results were far better than Western Cape Education Department’s averages.

Cooper said they also thought there was a huge amount of benefit to the very extensive programme, the school has beyond just its teaching and learning, it has a huge number of health services, the physical and mental needs for the children, many come from very difficult backgrounds and have experienced a high rate of violence and trauma.

He said school also involves the parents in addressing these issues which makes a huge difference in comparison to the state system which doesn’t often have those services.

Cooper said it also has a very comprehensive career development programme paying for the pupils’ university if they are accepted, and a comprehensive career planning with them and supporting them on that journey.

“I think it was 44% of Christel House alumni who had completed some tertiary education and I think the provincial average is 7%, remember these are pupils coming from very poor households. And unemployment rate also much lower – it was only about 7% at the time of the study.”

Weekend Argus

Share this article: