The Love Trust explains what must change to help SA's education crisis

The creché at the Tembisa School is an engaging place for kids to learn (The Love Trust)

The Love Trust explains what must change to help SA’s education crisis

The landscape is bleak, but the future doesn’t have to be

The Love Trust explains what must change to help SA's education crisis

The creché at the Tembisa School is an engaging place for kids to learn (The Love Trust)

According to data from NPO The Love Trust, around half of all learners in South Africa never even sit a matric exam. They are being systematically robbed of a future. But it’s not in their final years of education where students are being let down.

We spoke to Lindsay Owen, a representative of The Love Trust, to explain what issues are hurting South Africa’s youth, and the initiatives that need to be taken to arrest the rate of drop-outs from senior pupils.

How many pupils in South Africa make it to matric?

When we first made contact with TLT, we were greeted with some rather shocking numbers that accompanied one of their new promotional videos. It’s fair to say, the current state of education in South Africa is in dire straits:

  • 66% of 15-24 years olds in SA are unemployed?
  • 42% of learners drop out between Grade 10 & 12
  • 75% of ECD teachers have never been trained
  • 40%-50% of learners never write a matric exam
  • For most learners obtaining a matric or university degree is unattainable due to issues stemming from Grade 3
  • Greater earning potential is being hindered by the quality of tertiary education

Students are suffering because of pre-school shortcomings

Owen, a fundraiser for the group, identified the lack of Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers as a huge stumbling to progressive education. With just one in four pre-school teachers being qualified to do the job, our children begin their school life immediately at a disadvantage.

The Love Trust are already taking matters into their own hands, though. They provide NQF Level 4 training that is South African Qualifications Accredited, for teachers currently working at pre-schools in various townships in with no previous qualifications.

So far, the programme has enrolled 400 teachers into 11 training centres across South Africa. Lindsay believes that the battle to see our students matriculate begins in their formative years:

“This is the most critical time in a child’s life for brain development and they are not getting the necessary curriculum and input. The latest stats show that 8/10 children in grade 4 are functionally illiterate – they are still Learning to read when they should be Reading to learn. They fall further and further behind until they just drop out.”

Training for pre-school teachers provided by The Love Trust

The foundations were laid for the school, now they need to be laid across South African education (TLT)

The Love Trust are incredibly hands-on in tacking education standards in areas that are deprived of high-quality teaching. Their flagship project, Nokuphila School in the heart of Tembisa, is already blazing a trail for the rest of Mzansi.

They provide four meals a day to their students. Most learners are arriving exhausted and hungry, and wouldn’t be able to concentrate otherwise. Transport is arranged and available for every student, to ensure high attendance rates and lower the chances of pupils being abused en route to school.

And when the holidays come, food parcels are sent to each of their learners’ homes. Owen is particularly proud of how their educational set-up isn’t limited to classroom walls, but invites social workers and therapists to help children deal with the inevitable psychological issues that arise from poverty:

Nokuphila School employs dedicated and well-trained teachers and they are led by two incredible principals at the pre-school and primary school, who go out of their way to ensure that children’s needs are met both in and out of the classroom.

“We have one or two child-led households and many that only have one parent or caregiver, often looking after as many as 8 children at a time – living off a child grant. We have recently employed a Social Worker to assist us with these very complicated issues and are also employing an Occupational Therapist to support our children with various development issues.”

How many young people are unemployed in South Africa?

The Love Trust’s schools are no strangers to breaking new ground (TLT)

Owen quotes C.S Lewis when explaining the value-driven ethos of the school. “Education, without values, makes man a more clever devil”, she retorts. Lessons are based on how to share, how to be kind, and to respect each other as well as family and elders.

However, there is a waning sense that no matter what the Trust achieves, they can’t do this alone. Lindsay reminds us that 8.5 millions young people are unemployed. Those not in Education, Employment or Training (or ‘NEETS’) are languishing because of the failed structures they grew up with.

“Our crime rate is high because unemployment is high. Unemployment is high because these young men and women have not got a diploma or a degree or work experience.”

“They don’t have the diploma / degree or work experience because they don’t have a decent matric. By the time a child enters grade 3 you can tell if they will make it to matric – based on their pre-school education”

How South Africans can help improve education for students

We end our discussion with Lindsay – who has wealth of knowledge on education, given The Love Trust’s work with children, trainee teachers, and BEE compliant corporates – with her plea to anyone who may be listening, and anyone who can do something about this crisis in our schools.

She states the government have to back ECD projects, to ‘build on existing platforms and deliver excellent pre-school education’. She issues a rally cry to companies and business owners, challenging them to ‘throw their weight’ behind ECD structures to help children later on in life.

But lastly, Lindsay pleads with us – the citizens of South Africa -to support their cause. Almost forlorn in accepting a government that can’t be trusted, it seems like people power is the last weapon we have in the fight for our children’s futures.

“If there is to be any change, any hope at all, we will need everyone’s help – our government, our corporates, our NPOs and our people, both here and abroad. The problem is too big for individuals and yet it will take individuals to get this country off its knees again.”

The best way to help, is to help us educate our nation – one young person at a time. This is the key, it’s the solution to the pandemic of violence and corruption that has plagued our country for far too long.”

  • For those interested in helping Lindsay Owen and The Love Trust build foundations all our learners need, get in touch via their website, or through Lindsay’s personal email;