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2016-05-19 06:00
  Learners attending the Rainbow After school programme at the JL Zwane Centre.

Learners attending the Rainbow After school programme at the JL Zwane Centre.

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JL Zwane Centre in Gugulethu caters for the educational needs of over 80 young learners on a daily basis.

The aim of this academically inclined programme is to help them overcome school subject challenges which may hamper their curricula progress.

This robust after-school programme has been running at the centre since 1998.

Stakehodlers have confirmed an 80% success rate in helping children pass their school grades.

Called the “Rainbow After School programme”, it runs between Monday and Thursday, staffed by 12 teachers and a principal, who give more than two hours of their time to assist the learners with school-work and various other challenges.

There is also a special class on Saturday mornings, set aside for learners who are struggling with Maths and Science related subjects.

Each year, the JL Zwane Centre accepts children from Grades 1 to 12 to spend the afternoon at the centre to complete their school work under the supervision of a teacher.

The programme initially started on a small scale with few teachers volunteering but has now grown as more and more referrals are made from the schools.

Before commencing with their school work, the children are provided with a meal.

JL Zwane Centre director and founder Reverend Dr Spiwo Xapile says the programme was initiated as an intervention.

“To assist learners who could not cope with the standard of school work at the previous model C schools.

“ You will remember when our country began the new democratic dispensation, many parents took their children to these previously white schools.

“But were not aware that their children would be exposed to a new culture of schooling and it was no surprise that many of our township children at these schools struggled with Maths, Science, English grammar and reading”

Dr Xapile added: “If we had not provided this after school programme, many of these children would have failed their grades or they would have dropped out of school.

The learners speak in awe on the impact the programme has made with their academic performance. Many of them have gone on to pass their matric and are now employed by leading companies.

One of these, Nomthetho Mqakayi, passed her matric exams and is now employed by Old Mutual.

13-year old Xolile Zono is a grade 7 learner at the Luzuko Primary school in Guguletu. He has been with the programme since 2010 and he recalls:

“ The programme has helped me overcome challenges with maths and geography”

When I came here, I was battling with these subjects, but these teachers have helped me a lot.

Mihlali Ndaba, a grade 7 learner at the Heideveld Primary school, is an ever present sight at JL Zwane and has been attending the after school programme since 2012.

Mihlali says” I joined the Rainbow After School programme because I was battling with maths. When I heard about Rainbow After School, I asked my grandmother if I could attend the programme.?

“I can now safely say I am more comfortable with maths and history, I want to thank the teachers who have been patient with me and helped me quite a lot.”

Principal, Noma Mantanga, who has been with the programme since its inception, says the programme has also made a positive intervention on the learners, in various social challenges.

“Since I have been leading this programme, I have interacted with many children who had different challenges other than academic.

As teachers we would often have one on one interactions with each learner, and we would discover that their behavioural patterns, the way they are dressed, would enable us to easily pick up if they are battling with challenges of unstable families, or they were victims of negligence.”

“This programme has been a timeous intervention as it will close that gap. ‘Mantanga said

Patrick Nyebeta is another educator. He assists the learners with technology and computer literacy know-how.

“The programme has helped the kids and the community. Parents do not have sufficient time to assist with school work.

We assist with their school work. We also help develop them so they can improve their level of understanding and in so doing prepare them for the next grade of their schooling.”

Thandile Nombila,14, a pupil at Mseki Primary dreams of becoming a lawyer one day, and is confident that the programme at JL Zwane will help achieve her dreams.

“It also keeps us away from the streets. After school we come to JL Zwane and we spend time with the teachers and this has helped me a lot in getting a better understanding of the subjects I was struggling with.”

The learners agree with their teachers that the afternoon care and education has created a safer environment and had it not been for this programme, some of them would have become vulnerable to crime, drug abuse and possibly even victims of sexual abuse.

These learners are urging their peers that Rainbow After School must always continue as it has had a positive impact on their schooling.

Noma Mantanga avers that if it wasn’t for the programme, many of these kids would then be victims of the social challenges of our community, as many of their parents and grandparents are only at home late in the evenings.

The children could have been preyed on.

Mantanga cautioned: “Some of the teachers are retired, some are unemployed, but we have chosen to give our time to assist the kids of our community with their academic work and in so doing we are closing the gap.”

Patrick Nyebeta could not agree more:

“We really appreciate the support of those who are funding the programme as it has made a valuable intervention in the lives of these kids and their parents and broader community of Guguletu”

. The JL Zwane Centre was awarded the State President’s Award in 1998 for best community initiative.

It was an award which was personally handed over by the late former President Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela

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