ABC for Life is creating a future where the children of the Hangberg township in Hout Bay will ALL be literate and able to understand maths. Struggling students have the opportunity to get one-on-one instruction from an ABC teacher in class sizes no greater than 10 students, instead of getting lost in class sizes that often approach 50 learners.
In our future, students will no longer drop out of school when they reach age 14 and still cannot read or write in English. They will be literate and educated about threats like drug abuse and HIV, which are rife in the community they call home.
This is where we need your help.
300 primary school children pass through our program yearly and they have just achieved a 90% pass rate on end of year exams for 2011. We are reaching the young learners and making sure they're literate, but we now want to be reaching the upper grades.
ABC wants to be a support network for the students through their entire school career to make sure they are getting the information and positive encouragement they need and deserve.
Students at Sentinel School live in the township that immediately surrounds the school. Hangberg is historically a fishing village, but due to recent fishing sanctions, many families have no income whatsoever. Some of the daily stresses our students experience are: hunger, HIV, high unemployment, parents who abuse drugs, friends who abuse drugs, drug dealers trying to tempt them into work, rape and abuse, parents who are illiterate themselves, and crippling poverty.
Many of the emotional effects of the students' surroundings negatively impact their studies at the middle and high school level. ABC for Life wants to have guidance counselors/life coaches and teachers available for the students to encourage them to stay in school and focus on their studies even in the midst of psychological stress.
Most importantly, at the high school level ABC for Life would like to have a career center where the students could access information to scholarships available as well as vocational training opportunities. This expansion will make sure our students are literate for LIFE and are becoming life long leaders who have broken the cycle of poverty and have a chance for a brighter future.
What is ABC for Life?
ABC for Life is a registered NPO (073-897) under the umbrella of the Hout Bay Educational Trust. We are a supplemental English literacy and Maths program based at the Sentinel School in the Hangberg community of Hout Bay, South Africa.
Class Sizes at Sentinel School often approach 50 students per class. This is due to poor governmental funding, an impoverished community unable to pay school fees greater than R100 a year ($13), and a system that does not allow a teacher to fail a student more than once per phase.
These huge class sizes make it extremely difficult for the teachers to reach every student who is struggling. Therefore, many learners are lacking basic fundamentals and are unable to read, write or understand basic Maths.
If these students are not reached, many of them will no longer see the value in attending school and will ultimately drop out without ever having learned how to read. They will join the swelled ranks of unskilled and illiterate unemployed that already put unnecessary strain on our economy. This is a grim future that ABC for Life works to prevent by making sure these struggling students are indeed reached by our teachers and helped to become literate for LIFE!
How ABC for Life works
ABC for Life works with the public school teachers to identify which students are in need of more one-on-one instruction from our teachers at ABC. These learners are placed in class sizes no greater than 10 students in the subjects of English literacy and Maths.
The ABC curriculum is designed to work in tandem with the current school curriculum to get students brought up to their grade level so that they are ultimately able to pass their end of year exams.
Students are tested by ABC throughout the year to make sure they are on track and are being brought up to their appropriate grade level. Students are streamed into groups based on their scores: Low performing students are seen three times or twice weekly, students who score slightly better on their tests with ABC are seen once weekly.
Our three ABC for Life teachers reach 300 students yearly and have achieved an end of year exam pass rate of 90%! These students only needed 40-60 hours of more attentive instruction with ABC to reach their full potential!
It is possible to make sure EVERY child at the primary school level is reading and understanding Maths with this model. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved in the limited 40-60 hours we spend instructing the students yearly and are working to reach other underprivileged schools.
Everything Else We Do
We also run smaller, but equally significant initiatives in the Hangberg community including:
A Hout Bay youth soccer league that employs coaches from the neighborhood, the first of its kind in the area. Our team name is "The Young Eagles" and they've just recently won the league tournament!
Parent workshops that help to empower, build confidence and promote good parenting practices among the true role models of Hangberg.
ABC for Life started in 2007 when one of our founders Lola Kramer built a relationship with a street child named Siphelo. She had noticed him begging and being chased away from the local supermarket for stealing when she approached him to ask why he behaved the way he did. He told her his story and she came to understand that he was illiterate and homeless at the age of 15.
Lola had been a teacher in the past and she took it upon herself to teach Siphelo to read, give him employment around her home and business, and give him a place to live. After a few months of trying to teach Siphelo to read, she realized the job was too big for her and approached the local Sentinel School to see if there was a place for Siphelo there.
What she saw at Sentinel School shocked her. Class sizes were between 40-60 learners per teacher! There were many other children just like Siphelo who were illiterate or nearly so and there were no extra classes, no opportunity for these children to catch up on their studies and receive more attentive instruction.
So, Lola Kramer teamed up with Val Toledo (our curriculum developer) and Sheila Hofmeyr to found ABC for Life at Sentinel School. They started with one teacher, and five students in a staff room in 2007. ABC for Life now has three teachers and reaches 300 students a year!
ABC was founded on the idea that EVERY GOOD ACTION CREATES ANOTHER. That is what Lola did by reaching out to Siphelo, and look at all the positive action that has been created! Siphelo is now a certified panel beater and, for the time being, has a full time job at a bottle store while he seeks apprenticeship in his trade.
Today it's your turn to create another good action. Your financial support will help us to break the cycle of poverty for the next generation of Hangberg children. We're here on the ground, making sure the children are literate and empowered, but we can not create this good without your financial support! We've built something incredibly special at Sentinel School, please help us continue.