An after-school care programme supported by one of our South African wind farms has been praised for transforming the prospects of its young users.
The community-based scheme was launched in the Noupoort area of the Northern Cape in July 2018 when a drop-in centre was set up at the local Ikhwezi Lokusa Primary School.
The intention was to provide a safe, stimulating environment where 30 Grade 1 to Grade 3 children could study and play after their classes, as well as offer therapy to help address the effects of sometimes difficult home lives.
Some 16 months later and the programme has expanded to provide care to 90 children, with additional centres at Eurekaville Intermediary School and, since last month, Noupoort Combined School.
Mrs Gouws, a teacher at Eurekaville Primary, told of the noticeable improvements in children’s school work and confidence.
She said: “I’ve seen such positive change in the learners who have been going to the aftercare. One that stands out the most is a young learner, who was really struggling at the beginning of the year as she had no proper foundation in maths and literacy. I referred her to the aftercare programme, which she loves it so much and she is so committed to that she never misses a day.
“She has made such huge improvements in her work and can how complete all her homework. It is wonderful to see that her confidence has grown so much that she now encourages and helps some of the other learners in her class”.
Children are collected from their schools, served a nutritious cooked meal and assisted with homework before being taken home in the late afternoons. Literacy and numeracy programmes are also run to help these youngsters keep up with the pace of the school curriculum.
And there is therapeutic intervention and counselling for children who live in often-difficult circumstances. Play therapy has proved particularly effective in giving a child an opportunity to communicate emotions, feelings, experiences and behaviour.
Sandisiwe Mntonintshi, Economic Development Manager of Noupoort Wind Farm, which is funding the project as part of its socio-economic development programme, explained: “This is more than providing a roof and a plate of food to our community’s children.
“We also look to provide the necessary therapeutic intervention, as the team is often working with children that are most affected by trauma, related to broken homes and other social challenges.”
Mrs Gouws added: “I have seen really big improvements with all the learners attending the programme, and look forward to more children getting the extra help they need.”