Education

APRIL 2010   

NEWSLETTER # 2

Buoyed by the prospect of an international footballing spectacle in our own backyard, indications of economic recovery and some positive signs for education from the federal budget, 2010 has started full of hope for South Africa. At Axium, we've been swept up in the good news thanks to some very encouraging meetings with the Department of Education and union officials in the Eastern Cape; a successful second "Boot camp"; some generous financial support from local and international donors; and a year packed with plans and promise.

Prize-winners at a recent maths "Boot Camp"

Our second "Boot camp" saw one hundred Grade 10 and 11 learners spend the last week of the school year doing algebra with the Axium Team. Not your idea of fun?! Most schools would agree with you, as the last week of school is usually devoted to administration and students are sent home early. The fact that we were forced to turn away learners because of high demand reinforced our belief that rural learners can succeed - if supplied with appropriate opportunities. As with our first camp, students were hungry to learn and more than doubled their results over the course of the week.

 

Popular in much of the education research in the US at the moment, is the concept of collaborative learning, with teams of teachers or school leaders getting together to solve educational problems and improve teaching practice. You can imagine our excitement, therefore, when we were recently introduced to Brian Gray, who has been working with rural science teachers, using just this collaborative approach for over 25 years! With rural teachers typically working in isolation, Brian has helped them to establish structured networks, where they can support and learn from each other and mount initiatives. He has had remarkable results with very under-resourced schools, with some schools achieving the unheard of: 100 % pass rates and distinctions in physical science!

Brian has kindly offered to facilitate the possible launch of such a science teacher network in the Zithulele area this year. Our hope is that once we have one network running effectively, the demand for similar networks in other subjects (particularly maths and English) and geographic areas will grow from the teachers themselves. As with most education work, real change comes when it is teacher-driven and not externally mandated, so our focus will be on empowering teachers to take control of these networks and drive the development process themselves. You can read more about Brian's work here.

Zithulele Area, Eastern Cape

 

In addition to the launch of these teacher networks, this year we will again be running maths "Boot camps" in senior secondary schools in the Zithulele area. The focus for these will be on selecting next year's cohort of students to attend classes at the Ekukhuleni Centre.   Students at

Ekukhuleni are offered intensive after-school classes in maths, science, language and leadership - a transformational opportunity for those that are up for the challenge!

A friend of a friend, Nick Bennett, is participating in a Survivor-type event called Life 2 the Limit. He has kindly offered to donate any money raised through the competition to Axium, so please support him and follow his progress here. You can also assist us by spreading the word about our teaching posts for 2011 and our ongoing board expansion process.

In closing, special thanks to the Younger, Paxton (senior) and Cohene families for their contributions to our work in the Eastern Cape. While we hope to secure significant corporate support this year, until we do so we will continue to rely almost exclusively on the generosity of those who believe in what we do.

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 2010