Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Arts.Advocacy+Wellness: "Torya and Her Notes on Ubuntu"

Charting Success

      Asanda sits in the back of his Statistics class doodling in the margins of his notebook. As his teacher draws a line graph on the board,
 Asanda slouches in his chair. He dreams of studying business at university next year in order to start his own IT business in Port Elizabeth, yet he struggles in Statistics as he lacks the basic understanding of arithmetic that he was supposed to receive years ago. Because he is a quiet and friendly student, his teachers consistently gave him high marks for work that he didn’t fully understand. 
      For the past 10 years, Ubuntu Education Fund has prioritized comprehensive health and psycho-social support as the key to stabilizing households and ensuring our children not just survive, but actually thrive. Today, we see that our strategy to stabilize homes is working. We are proud we have placed 128 of our students in university on scholarships. However, our students are entering university at the bottom of their classes.
To compensate for poorly functioning and under-resourced schools, Ubuntu will launch a new, intensive after-school program in January 2010 for students in Grades 10 to 12.
      Each student will receive an academic assessment that will determine an individualized path of study. Students will participate in intensive academic tutoring and enriching activities after-school and on weekends. In addition to academic support, all after-school students will

 meet regularly with an Ubuntu counselor. Our staff will offer career counseling as well as psychosocial counseling and comprehensive support for the child’s entire household. During school holidays, we will offer enriching and academic support so that students’ education is not preempted by the ringing of the school bell.
      Support cannot only be relegated to counseling and assessment; the tools for learning are required as well. We will provide students with uniforms, desks, chairs, lamps for studying, eyeglasses, backpacks, calculators, protractors—the very materials that are the basis for any academic endeavor.
      With the changes in our after-school program, students like Asanda will no longer feel like they have to sit in the back of the classroom. Ubuntu’s improved curriculum will not only give our students the confidence to sit in the front of the room, but the skills to graduate at the top of their class.

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