October 2014   


"Now the foundation phase teachers are going to start corner libraries on a washing line. We will use books from Biblionef and the Department of Education to grow our library. It's going to help learners to read for fun." - Miss Daca, teacher at Seaview Junior Secondary School and SSS Network member

Lungisa Gobinamba, 2015
pharmacy student at Rhodes
University, with Zithulele
Hospital in the background

On the 1st of October we found out that Lungisa Gobinamba had been accepted to study pharmacy at Rhodes University. You can see from the photo that he was a little excited - to say the least! And the ripples of excitement spread fast… to his peers on the Jumpstart programme, where he has been working at Zithulele hospital and learning important skills while waiting to hear from universities… to Ekukhuleni alumni and students, where he was one of a number of top-performers in the Class of 2013… to his science and maths teacher at Dudumayo Senior School… to the hospital itself, where he will more than likely return to work on completion of his degree… and of course, inevitably onto Facebook, where the news has spread like wildfire. Lungisa is one of a growing number of rural pioneers, carving a path out of rural poverty to a demanding programme at one of South Africa's most prestigious universities, and back again to contribute to the community that sent him out.

Our world famous (well, soon to be!) Community Readers in action at Putuma JSS

The fact that his journey has touched so many facets of our work, suggests that the 'wrap-around' approach we've taken - working with students, teachers and school leaders throughout the school pipeline - is starting to bear fruit. Our latest foray into the early years of this pipeline, through our Community Readers Literacy Programme, recently received a massive boost with the news that the D.G. Murray Trust have agreed to fund the expansion of the programme over the next two years. This will mean more young people from the community involved in life-changing work for the first time; more reading clubs where children can hear and learn to tell stories; more support to schools overwhelmed with the task of teaching overcrowded classes to read; and more development of the games, tools and resources to do all of this work effectively.

Prize winners from the 2014 Bomvana Science Competition

Lungisa was one of the stand-out students in last year's Bomvana Science Competition, which was held this year for the third time. Having seen the real benefits for the teachers and students involved in this competition, we launched two other competitions this quarter. The Young Scientist Competition, for teachers involved in the Mqanduli Junior Science Network and their Grade 9 students, requires students to collaboratively construct the solution to a practical problem (this year it was to design a water filtration device from household materials) and then, on the day, to work in new groups to solve a time-sensitive design challenge. It's a great preparation for the National Science Expo, which we're hoping to encourage schools to enter for the first time next year. We also assisted Grade 9 and 11 students to enter NMMU's National MathSci Competition run on the mobile platform Mxit, where a number of our students made it through to the second round, and Mbuyekezi Ntleki recently participated in the final round.

Young Scientists with Nonkanyiso and the winning teacher, Ms. Dengane

Our Masakhane students have started blogging! The Masakhane programme is all about growing confidence and skills in English and maths, and blogging offers a pretty fun way for rural students to share their creative writing with the rest of the world. At first, these mostly grade nine learners were confused about what a blog is - but now they're tracking their stats, reading and replying to comments and learning where places like The Isle of Man and The Netherlands are. Here's what Amahle, a grade nine learner from Lubanzi JSS had to say, "Our blog is very important because people that read our blog are very impressed with how we describe Zithulele. We are very happy when people from other countries read our blog. We think that the more people read our blog, the more our education will grow high. I really like the way people give us more comments." Keen to be their next groupie? Check out the blog here!

Young Masakhane writers working with Sive

As usual, there's too much to share in one email… four of our students were nominated again to become African Scholars and, thanks to a generous private funder, we've been able to name our first Axium Scholar, Gcobani Mkuti, who will receive similar support for educational materials. Our Study Group Tablet Project is taking off (although do consider helping us grow the number of tablets 'in play'!). We received a massive stationary donation from the generous folk from Rotary Mthatha. The SSS Network for school management teams goes on retreat later this month, where the theme will be 'school discipline' - a hugely important topic in schools here. And the Zithulele Tigers go on tour later this week, for the first time boasting a number of female Tigers in their number!

The Tigers gear up for their next tournament

We're fortunate to have amazing volunteers and associate staff that help make all these great things happen. This month, meet Nonkanyiso Vokwana, our stellar science education specialist. She, Lungisa, and others like them, keep us inspired about growing the next generation of rural professionals!

Yours in education,

Craig, Michelle and the Axium Team


Can you help? We're looking for:

Dynamic, hardworking, 'adventurers in education' (volunteers!) - we're always looking for great people willing to volunteer their time - and have an infinite amount of things to do!
Rugby/soccer boots (cleats) for the Tigers - if you have an old pair in the back of the cupboard, let us know, we'll arrange collection.
Stuff for kids: Reading books, Xhosa-English dictionaries, calculators, maths sets, solar lights… anything that will help rural kids learn!
Donations to our Tablet Fund: bringing the educational power of tablet computing to our Study Groups. (1 tablet = R1500/USD150, or part thereof, use 'Tablet' as your reference if making an EFT)
©2014 Axium Education