A Cape Town based non-profit organisation is offering children from poor communities, such as Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg, in Hout Bay, a brighter future by placing them in quality schools with excellent educational standards.
Schools in townships across South Africa lack resources and competent staff, and offer low-quality education.
The Bright Start Education Support Programme identifies children most in need of stronger educational support, and has placed 34 children, ranging from ages three to 12, in private schools in and around Hout Bay.
Carolynne Stelling, executive director at Bright Start says, “Our intention is that through this programme, by ensuring quality, holistic education to these children, they will develop into active, concerned and able citizens who will go back into their communities and impact positively on those around them.”
The programme’s success hinges on a three-way partnership between the schools, parents and Bright Start, holding all parties responsible for the children’s performance and using sponsorship funds appropriately.
She says the organisation wants to “break the poverty cycle; one child at a time, one family at a time”.
Bright Start also holds an outreach programme for residents in the communities in which it works.
The workshops focus on nutrition, basic child healthcare, substance abuse amongst the youth, and basic budgeting, among others. The workshops also encourage parents to become more involved in their children’s education, like helping with homework.
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When the organisation was started in 2008, it had seven children on its programme; with sponsorship for promising students, the number has grown and while helping students improve on their academics, also exposes them to extra-mural activities not available at township schools.
Now Stelling says, “We have eight new children on the programme, three of whom are entirely unfunded. The programme cost is R35 000 per year and we ask sponsors to commit to a minimum of two years but preferably more.
“Funding shortages are always a challenge, and will continue to be so, even as funding grows. The children are the heart of what we do and knowing that they now have the opportunity of a bright future gives us the greatest pleasure.”