Close to nine million of South Africa’s twelve-million school-age population are enduring the Covid-19 21-day lockdown with serious constraints on basic food, hygiene and learning supplies. For most families, educational support will be via radio and TV, and perhaps a smartphone or two in each house. In order to resolve some of these issues, the Tomorrow Trust has adapted the way orphaned and vulnerable learners can keep up their levels of learning over the next three weeks. “We’ve launched the #changethestory campaign,” says James Donald, CEO for the Tomorrow Trust, a non-profit organisation that supports orphaned and vulnerable children, focusing on developing both academic and life-skills proficiencies. “It’s enabled us not only to buy and put together 400 food, hygiene and learning packs, and have them delivered to under-resourced households, but also to mentor and manage these children and their caregivers by providing the academic and psychosocial support they need.” Included with the packs are one-month WhatsApp data bundles that enable children and their caregivers to join WhatsApp groups, and guidance on how to access free online educational resources, like the Siyvula Maths and Science programme. The Tomorrow Trust, founded in 2005, runs holistic education programmes throughout the year at various host-partner venues in Johannesburg and Cape Town, including a junior holiday school programme aimed at Grades R-7, a tertiary programme and an alumni programme. Each child is evaluated on a one-to-one basis, and a tailored programme developed which encompasses academic and psychosocial support, as well as meals, transport, stationery and course materials, mentorship, leadership training and self-mastery classes. “Admittingly, Government is working hard to provide the financial and educational support these poorer vulnerable children need,” says Donald. “You don’t have to look very far to see how radio stations, on the SABC for instance, are gearing up to broadcast lessons, and DStv is broadening access to news and education channels. But what many of us don’t realise is that the very basic necessities, like food and hygiene items, are things that many of these households simply don’t have enough of, and skyrocketing unemployment just compounds the issue even further.” For children in your care, the Tomorrow Trust has some valuable tips on how you can #changethestory of the Lockdown.
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