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An ecosystem approach to recover learning losses

Over the past year, the informal education sector and a broader network of civil society organisations have stepped in to support catch-up efforts. In light of this, NASCEE (National Association of Social Change Entities in Education) hosted an Education Recovery Forum inviting partners to share, discuss and critically engage on their recovery efforts. 

The session opened with an insightful presentation from the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT)/Department of Basic Education (DBE) on the system’s “rebooting education” plans and campaign. Representing After School Programmes (ASPs), The Learning Trust then joined a panel from Early Childhood Development and Psychosocial Support who shared their recovery efforts. 

We used this opportunity to share our emerging work in coordinating a Catch-Up Coalition of non-profit ASP providers. As recent recipients of the Social Employment Fund (SEF), we aim to use the Coalition to lead advocacy to government departments around mainstreaming After School for education recovery, and further maximise employment stimulus packages to capacitate and sustain the sector. 

The engagements at the forum made it clear that it is only through a collective ecosystem-approach that we can address the learning-losses aggravated by the pandemic and improve South Africa’s learning outcomes.


Impactful After School programmes require self-care

Much of our time in the developmental sector is dedicated to the essential work of supporting learners and the communities they belong to. The impact of the pandemic has compounded this responsibility, often leading us to take the traditional 'heroic' and 'sacrificial' approach to our work at the expense of our own well-being. 

This past quarter we held our first Gauteng Community of Practice online and took time to centre the emotional and mental wellness of the organisational leaders and practitioners on the frontlines. We invited Inala Mental Health Foundation – a non-profit based in Cape Town that offers mental health intervention methods to individuals, groups, and families – to speak on the importance of prioritising mental wellness and self-care as well as share the various ways organisations and leaders can do so. 

The session gave our grantees and partners the rare opportunity to reflect on the past year and share what they've done to cope with some of the stress and anxieties that were heightened in this period. It quickly became apparent that managers and practitioners rarely get an opportunity to meet, introspect on their well-being, and express these feelings in the context of work. The session provided a safe, non-judgemental, and comforting space to allow for free expression and collective guidance. 

Essentially, the CoP served as a reminder that taking care of ourselves and creating a human-centric culture in our organisations plays a more significant role in ensuring that our work achieves the impact we desire.


After School reimagines masculinity

Our communities are affected by high levels of gender-based violence and gender inequality. In response to these societal issues, two of our Western Cape grantees – School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) and Waumbe Youth Development use sport to challenge gender norms and target men through life skills education.

The School of Hard Knocks’ #NextGenMen Project takes place annually, promoting non-violent and gender equitable behaviours to over 200 youths. Working with UCT’s Gender Institute, SOHK implements gender consciousness workshops for their staff and recently started a Women in Sport media series. Ultimately, the aim for the #NextGenMen Project is to contribute towards reducing gender-based violence.

Similarly, Waumbe Youth Development runs a Raising Quality Men programme that brings together young boys between the ages of 10 and 18 in hopes to build safer communities through positive masculinity education. The curriculum of the seminars largely rests on instilling basic human values of Ubuntu. 

It’s uplifting to see ASPs get involved in these complex conversations and create programmes that contribute to developing responsible and socially conscious youth.


Mfuzo Boxing Club takes the Eastern Cape to the Olympics

Born in the rural town of Qumbu, Siphosethu Daweti is a boxer at one of our Eastern Cape based organisations, Mfuzo Boxing Club (MBC). The love of boxing for this Hospitality graduate started back in 2016. She has since won eight championships at both provincial and national levels.

Earlier this year, Siphosethu was selected by the South African National Amateur Boxing Organisation as one of the eleven to join South Africa’s national team and represent the country in Zone Four Games in Angola and the Commonwealth Games in England. This also includes tournaments in Mozambique this April and Turkey in May. Siphosethu will also get the opportunity to represent South Africa in the next Olympic Games. 

Since inception, MBC has supported and encouraged over 30 female boxers who have gone on to achieve great things, thus transforming the gendered narrative about masculine and feminine sports.


Grantees advance access to online learning

The biggest shift caused by COVID is moving learning online. Under the new norm, Emagqabini and The Assist faced the challenge of implementing seamless remote learning programmes for their learners who lack access to functioning technological devices. This led to an increased number of learners failing to participate fully and thus delaying programme implementation. 

TLT has been instrumental in identifying and connecting grantee and alumni organisations to SegenSolar’s IT donation initiative. Through tablet donations from SegenSolar, Emagqabini learners can now fully engage on e-Learning sites that enhance their educational experience. The donated devices support the implementation of ASSIST’s blended academic programme. Their handover was also attended by our GP Programme Officer, Ongeziwe Nxokwana. One matric learner expressed their gratitude for the ability to stay in touch with their tutor beyond the session. In total, these donations have benefitted 90 learners from these organisations.

In case you missed it...

‘Keeping the door open’: A Conversation with Sixolile Mabombo, TLT’s new Board Chairperson (Pt.1)

On a sunny yet chilly morning, we sat down with Sixolile Mabombo, the Director of Finance and Operations at Africa Resource Centre and The Learning Trust’s recently elected Board Chair. We covered everything from her unusual entry into the Education Space from Absa WIMI; what excites her about stepping into the role as TLT’s Board Chair; the untapped power of the After School sector; and what ‘keeping the door open’ means in her new role.


Masinyusane Case Study: Creating A Culture of Learning

Established in 2008, Masinyusane has provided several programmes for youth and children in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, focused mainly on literacy, career guidance, and tertiary support. As Masinyusane grew, they had to find ways of employing personnel to drive their programmes rather than rely solely on volunteers. Thirteen years on, they have a thriving youth jobs programme and a majority youth and female contingent of core staff. Learn more on how they achieved this.

After School Highlights
TLT Updates

As the visibility and impact of our work grows to support the vibrant After School sector, so does our team! We are excited to have three new members joining us this year, taking on roles that are fundamental to driving the work we do. Join us in welcoming them to The Learning Trust family!

In addition, we now have Kumbirai Madziwa – previously our part-time Data Analyst – joining us in a fuller capacity as our Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer. Kumbi is a research, data, and statistical specialist. He holds 6 years of experience in project framework, methodology design and statistical analyses as a Demographer.



After School Basics Training in GP and EC

Alumni Networking Event

Communities of Practice

MEL Training

Note that more details will follow closer to each event.

Stay safe and stay connected,

The Learning Trust Team