Our main aim is to promote identity, belonging and a positive school culture. Equipping learners with the basic foundational skills for life.
The learners we work with are from amongst the poorest in South Africa, coming from low to no-income households and often having to contend with neighbourhood gangsterism and violence. Many of the learners are not able to attend special needs schooling even though they may have been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other learning deficiencies which the school system is not adequately trained or equipped or handle correctly.
The schools we work have learner fees that average R250/per annum ($35) and only 1/3rd of learners fees are collected. With very little subsidies from the state and minimal funds there is barely resources for maintaining the schools let alone providing added-value services.
With result, many learners will drop out shortly after Grade 7, some will not attend high school. We believe one of the reasons learners are not motivated at school is because they are immersed in the troubles of their environment (maybe a dad who is in prison) and school is simply last on their list of concerns.
Our newest adventure (pilot currently) has been using chess as a tool to improve problem solving ability, numeracy skills as well as teach life skills.
We're already seeing amazing results through this as learners have improved their skills in tournament results. Some learners who have trouble concentrating are interestingly able to concentrate for long periods and even show deep thinking ability at the chess board.
We know learners love this because every week we have more learners wanting to stay at chess instead of go home. It gives them soemthing constructive and uplifting to do rather than roaming the roads with no purpose.
We make a concerted efforted each week to show children that every move we make whether on the chess board or in real life has possibilities for good or consequences which could result in the worst happening. We show them how thinking things through and trying to see what the trajectory of a certain move might be can help them to make better moves (or make the best choices in life)
We're a small nonprofit but we see that as one of our advantages, our implementation is not held up by bundles of red tape. We identify the need, find the resources and then we do it.
The pilot chess project is one which we have already seen will work. The only thing holding us up is getting enough chess equipment to make it a school-wide, one period per week programme which all learners can benefit from.