Education

DECEMBER 2010   

NEWSLETTER # 4


It's all about opportunities and belief.

Much of Axium's work operates on the assumption that given the right opportunities and the requisite confidence to use them, rural students and educators can learn and teach at high levels. Our most recent boot camp at Upper Mpako Senior Secondary was a case in point. We arrived at the school expecting one hundred students and ended up teaching well over three hundred. This meant that the grade 11 learners from Cape Town, who we had anticipated using as tutors or teaching assistants, were saddled with classes in excess of fifty students for which they were 100 % responsible - a challenge for a seasoned teacher, let alone a 17 year old!

Zee, one of the Grade 11 teachers, with her class prize winners and the hordes in the background!

As is often the case, this "set-back" proved to be one of the most successful things we have done. In the words of the principal, her students responded incredibly positively to these young teachers because "they saw for the first time what an education was". Not only did our team look and speak like the students they were teaching, but they set high standards in the classroom, taught capably and expected much from their students. Once again this powerful mix of opportunities to learn, combined with a growing belief in their ability to achieve, empowered students to make real improvements in their basic maths over the course of the week.

The end of 2010 marks the closing of phase 1 in the life of Axium Education. It has been a year of foundations, relationships and important early successes. The organization has now run five maths boot camps in four different senior secondary schools, which have helped to foster strong relationships with principals and school communities. These boot camps have provided close to 1000 grade 10, 11 and 12 students with opportunities to dramatically improve their foundational mathematics. The largely unintended other spin-off, as alluded to in earlier newsletters, has been the hugely influential nature of these experiences on our teaching team, with many youngsters seriously considering careers in teaching.

 

Under construction: a teaching
venue for 2011 Ekukhuleni
students

It is this win-win relationship, where both students and student-teachers come away enriched, that we are betting on in 2011. We have targeted high potential learners in the last three years of high school for intensive additional classes in maths, science, language and leadership at the "Ekukhuleni Centre". Our aim is two-fold: to use these students as peer-leaders at their local schools in a structured after-school tutoring programme using excellent materials prepared by our teaching team; and, to prepare these select students for tertiary study, where we hope they will succeed and (if not all, at least a percentage) return to their communities as a new generation of quality rural professionals in education, health care and elsewhere.

We're incredibly excited about having a full-time teaching team in place in Zithulele next year to support the fledgling Mqanduli Science Teacher Network and to work with these Ekukhuleni students. Of course, this substantial increase in human investment comes with an associated jump in costs. We are waiting on a number of proposals with foundations and corporates, but please do continue to keep our work at the top of your mind, and, if you have contacts you think may help, please do let me know.

Sincere thanks to Breadline Africa, the Younger, MacArthur and Douglas families, the Solon Foundation, Coronation Fund Managers, Thomson Reuters and The Answer Series for their kind support in 2010.

Yours in fun, difference-making, rural education,

Craig, Michelle and the Axium Team

© Axium Education 2010