Vulnerable children from very difficult socio-economic backgrounds are prepared for school readiness and placed in public schools after obtaining birth certificates for them.
At iThemba Labantu's preschool the children find unconditional love, acceptance, support and excellent education.
Ithemba Labantu Primary is a little school with a very big heart! Formed in 2017 with a single Grade One class, in 2021 the school has grown to 125 learners, 5 teachers and 5 assistant teachers.
Every day 120 children, mostly graduates of our Pre-school, attend an after school program at iThemba Labantu.
The iThemba Labantu Library offers all children and adults the opportunity to borrow books.
We discovered there are quite a few young kids of school-going age that are roaming the streets not attending school. They have fallen through all social clusters. These children come from the poorest of the poorest households where the families are caught up in a cycle of ongoing inter-generational poverty. The parents are unemployed, often try to cope by engaging in substance abuse and survive by handouts or get involved in unlawful behaviours to make ends meet. Domestic violence is often a prevailing issue. The children can ́t attend school as their births were never registered. Therefore they don't have the birth certificate required to be enrolled in school. Often the parents themselves don't have any identity documents. Without access to school these children face a similar struggle in life to that of their parents. The centre tries to assist to break this intergenerational cycle of poverty. Each year we enrol 10 children in our one-year gap program which we call “Morning class”. They are taught basic skills in literacy, numeracy and life-skills which gives them the foundation to cope in school. While they attend the daily program from 8-4p.m they receive three much needed meals and we try to address their particular sets of social needs. Where it is necessary we intervene to acquire birth certificates, which is a long and difficult process. We assist their family with household problems where ever we can and conduct regular home-visits. Our assistance could be in the form of referrals for counselling, removal to a shelter in a case of domestic violence, rehabilitation from drug exposure or removal of children to foster care if needed. After one year we enrol the children in mainstream schools, while they keep coming to the aftercare programs at the centre.
Most children living in Philippi have difficult lives. They live in small shacks, which are frequently overcrowded, housing friends and relatives who moved to the city to find work. They can be subjected and exposed to alcoholism, drug abuse, violence and, in some cases, sexual abuse.
At iThemba Labantu they find unconditional love, acceptance, support and are prepared for a more stable future. In 2006 iThemba Labantu was proud to open the certified iThemba Labantu Preschool in order to provide education and a peaceful environment for underprivileged children (age 3-6) of the community. Since March 2014, Principle Charlene Williams has taught hundreds of children at our bi-lingual (English and Xhosa) preschool, with the help of one teacher and one volunteer. The children are cared for and offered a variety of activities to participate in. The preschool’s ethos is one of mutual understanding with clear focus on life skills, personality development, nutrition and language, in keeping with the primary focuses of the early education system. The preschool also provides assistance and support to the parents by enrolling the children into English medium Primary Schools (schools that conduct lessons in English as a first language). The purpose of this is not meant to extricate the children from their culture, but rather to help them understand the English language as it will be most beneficial to them in learning, communicating and finding work in the future, so as not to repeat the cycle of poverty their parents find themselves in.
We are a growing community school for bright-eyed boys and girls. With small class sizes and child centred teaching approaches, we aim to reach for our stars! Formed in 2017, with a single Grade One class, our school is well on course to achieving our goal of 175 learners across Grades 1-7 by 2023. We describe ourselves as a community centred family with a love of Maths and English... but that is just the beginning of our story. We believe in making our school a magical place of experiences and memories. Every day we ensure our children enjoy: 1) Food to eat and spaces to play, 2) relationships to trust; 3) technologies to harness and explore; 4) stages to express individual character. Our curriculum is aligned to the national standard with a deeper focus on Mathematics and English language. We use the Singapore method of teaching Maths, valuing explanation and understanding over rote learning. We use daily book clubs and literacy technologies such as Reading Eggs to expand our English language learning horizons. Recognizing the economic challenges facing Phillippi households we aim to be locally affordable while delivering a standard of education comparable to the best schools in the province. In the secure premises of the Community Centre we have the use of full-size playing fields for soccer, netball and basketball; a beautiful Lutheran Church that stands in the middle of the campus; a kitchen and dining hall for serving breakfast and lunch everyday, and a variety of studios and labs for art, music and technology. Our motto, 'Enabling children to love what they do', guides our teaching and motivates us to grow the curiosity that children possess.
For deeper insight please read this article about the schooling reality in South Africa.
Every day 120 children, mostly graduates of our Pre-school, attend an after school program at iThemba Labantu. Each afternoon the learners, ranging in ages from 10 to 18 years old, are fetched by our buses from their various schools in Philippi and Lentegeur. They come directly to the centre and are fed lunch in our dining hall, then they go in their grade groups to classrooms on our campus to do homework or extra Afrikaans and Maths. They are supervised by volunteers from the community. The after school team is a close knit family of children and adults living in Philippi. The work of the program is not limited to 'after school' homework. Our children gather at the centre first thing in the morning and are transported by our buses to their schools. They can join clubs and societies at iThemba Labantu such as dance, marimba, surf club, soccer and netball league. Every year a group of hard working children are rewarded with a camp: for the past two years this has been to Addo Elephant National Park in Port Elizabeth. Children who struggle with social and emotional issues are monitored closely, with access to counseling and other supportive initiatives such as smaller camps and outings. Every year our staff assist the Grade 7 group with finding high school places. This is an important process requiring close consultation with parents. Our aim is to retain groups of children in the same schools so that they can help and support each other in their new environments. A final and most important function of the after school is to set goals for our children and their parents. We look at each child's report and help them to think about ways of improving their school work. We reward children who are making improvements and provide support for children who are struggling: this could be in the form of social care or individualised after school lessons making use of teachers within the campus, or university-going student volunteers. In the after school program we have two long term goals: 1) to see each of our children matriculate from high school to the best of their abilities, ensuring that they have done all that they can to have a chance at securing a university or technikon place; and 2) to ensure that our children enjoy their childhoods and make the most of their youth through quality friendships, experiences and relationships with adults. Our community of Philippi faces severe challenges as one of the poorest districts in South Africa with the highest murder rate in the country. If our children do not achieve all that they dream of achieving in their school work we hope that they can look back on their childhood spent with us with affection and happiness, as we believe that it is the good memories of childhood that moulds the adult.
The iThemba Labantu Library offers all children and adults the opportunity to borrow books. Twice a week, many come to read and relax in a quiet environment. Most of the people in Philippi do not have books at home, besides their schoolbooks. The knowledge that children acquire while reading, can help them immensely. Books can open minds to different communities, cultures and opinions. Something that is very important in a Rainbow Nation like South Africa. Besides helping with the personal growth, books teach vocabulary and a good understanding of the different languages in South Africa. Children are exposed to isiXhoas, English and Afrikaans in their academic life and we have books in all three languages. Without any doubt, we can say that reading helps with their language development. In past years we have received books from many different organizations such as Biblionef and Nalibali. Book donations from Schools and Libraries in the Cape Town area help us to offer many different books and genres for all ages. South African and international authors are represented in our small library.
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