At Pep, South Africa's largest provider of school uniforms, education is key to building a more prosperous SA.
Which is why in 2008, the company started Pep Academy – the flagship countrywide social investment project aimed at furthering learning, increasing literacy and providing hope. Managed by non-profit organisation, Social Innovations and endorsed by the department of education, each academy programme serves 165 learners, and has five teachers and a manager per school in underprivileged communities.
Pep Academy is a free and specially designed supplementary education initiative focusing on establishing stronger early learning foundations for Grade 4 and 5 learners, running over three afternoons on a weekly basis. Particular emphasis is placed on Grade 4 as it’s one of the most challenging school years, when the language of instruction changes from mother tongue – taught up to Grade 3 – to English. To this end – among other approaches – physical resources are used to demonstrate abstract concepts.
Academies are hosted by schools and serve their own learners. As coordinators of the Pep Academy programme, Social Innovations employs all relevant staff, as well as a caterer from the local community to provide the necessary sustenance as nutrition itself is one of the cornerstones of successful learning. Although the academies operate independently, they enjoy support from the school while Social Innovations liaises with service providers to deliver the academic programme for each area, comprising the curriculum, training materials and in-class support.
It’s joined hands with academic partners Read Educational Trust, The Maths Centre, Valued Citizen’s Initiative and IBI Art.
By 2019 there were 25 Pep academies operating in four provinces, assisting in the early childhood development of more than 4 000 Grade 4 and 5 learners.
Since its establishment more than a decade ago, Pep Academy has provided learning assistance to a total of 18 500 learners, as well as hundreds of teachers and school managers.
Praising the academy’s achievements, Pep’s former managing director Leon Lourens said: “Most of the academy learners are children of people who can’t afford school fees at all or any additional education.
We’re not only helping to promote good results and an enthusiasm for school but we’re helping to keep kids at school and off the streets by providing a safe and caring environment for them with this supplementary education initiative. We’re really proud to be able to contribute something worthwhile – something that can be measured and tracked and something that’s making a positive difference.”