Education October 2009

If you're receiving this newsletter, it means you have, in some way, connected with the work of Axium Education and care about creating quality educational opportunities for rural communities in South Africa and beyond. We're excited to have you as a partner in our work and appreciate your support.

Inspirational facilitator Mfundo Ntobongwana with prize-winners at a recent maths "Boot Camp".

Since launching Axium in June this year we have:

connected with education and funding people across the US, UK and South Africa;

registered our organization in South Africa and applied for NGO/NPO status with the relevant authorities;

secured funding for our first set of activities in the rural Eastern Cape and completed a fun, successful maths intervention at one of the senior secondary schools near Zithulele Hospital.

The more we meet learners, teachers and principals in these rural schools, the more convinced we are that, provided with quality opportunities and sufficient support, these schools can make rapid, significant strides towards vastly improved performance. The challenges are certainly severe:

a single maths teacher for an entire school;
goats, sheep and chickens wander freely through vandalized and neglected classrooms;
children spend at least an hour-and-a-half walking each day;
teachers drive for nearly two hours to get to school from the nearest city.

Yet the resilience of these local people, in spite of hardships, sends a powerful message about the value of education to the community.

With so much of our time taken up with the humdrum of start-up - bank accounts, legal work, fundraising and the like - it was a pleasure to be reminded of why we're doing this work through our time at Sea View Senior Secondary school.

Proud learners greet us on arrival at their school.

Approximately 70 learners in grades 10 - 12 spent six hours a day during their spring holiday break with the Axium team, working through the algebra component of their syllabi. The kids we taught have significant gaps in language and maths that have accumulated over many years - we often found ourselves having to revisit material that should have been learnt four or five grade-levels earlier.

Despite these challenges and their obvious material difficulties, they were hungry to learn and some showed remarkable aptitude for the work. It's a testimony to the learners' drive that over the course of one week their test scores more than doubled!!

Perhaps the deepest impression we left with was of the very professional approach from school staff. Thanks largely to the remarkable new principal, Ms. Shumane, teachers were busy at school throughout the holiday period and systems appear well-organised and stable.

One felt that with an organized, motivated teaching staff, it would only be a matter of time before this was reflected in the school's results... provided they receive the support they so desperately need!

We are very grateful to Breadline Africa and to the friends and family of Melissa and Anush Kumar, who made this week possible through their generous support. We will be running a number of these "Boot Camps" over the next year as we seek to grow relationships with schools and build support from local communities in the Zithulele area. Please consider contributing either financially or by volunteering your time or skills.

By the end of next year we hope to have a full-time team in place in the Eastern Cape, ready to work on an ongoing basis with 5-10 local schools for the start of the 2011 academic year.

If you'd like to learn more about our model and plans, have a look at our website at www.axiumeducation.org.

Yours in fun, difference-making, rural education,

Craig, Michelle and the Axium Team

© Axium Education 2009