Adapted from an article by Ann Arnott
From a landscape of educational despair emerges a story of hope – the story of LEAP.
If you take a trip down south to the Apardheid Museum in Ormonde, you will experience the deep angst that tore this country apart for decades. One of the rifts that developed was in education, which resulted in a two-stream economy that comprised the rich and privileged and the poor and underprivileged. Despite nearly eighteen years of democracy, this remains a lingering legacy.
In an effort to change these circumstances, a passionate group of educators are doing everything that they can to reduce this great divide. Known as the LEAP Science and Maths Schools, this educational facility partners with established learning institutions and communities to provide education to disadvantaged children.
Dainfern College is one of the established partners that is assisting LEAP achieve their objectives. Under the leadership of LEAP Diepsloot Principal, Ross Hill, children are taught at the Akani Centre in Diepsloot in the mornings and are then brought to Dainfern College by bus or taxi and are taught using the college’s facilities in the afternoons and on weekends. At this stage, only Grade 9 and Grade 10 pupils are involved, but the school will expand by one grade per year to include Grades 11 and 12 as well.
Range of Subjects
The compulsory subjects that the children learn are: mathematics, physical science, life orientation and English. They have a choice of studying one of three further languages: Zulu, Sepedi and Tshivenda. And finally, they get to choose two subjects from the last category: history, information technology, life sciences (biology) and accountancy.
“Life orientation is our flagship programme,” says Ross Hill. “This encompasses the areas where they can reflect, grow emotionally and act as responsible citizens. We train them in leadership, so that they can become future leaders, thereby changing their own lives and the lives of the people around them. We also try to instil in them a lifelong learning ethic that will help them to succeed in their careers and, for those that want to become entrepreneurs, in their businesses.”
Narrowing the Cultural Divide
The LEAP Diepsloot /Dainfern College partnership is supported through sponsorship from the Aveng Group and through support from the Diepsloot and Dainfern parents and community. It is understandable that there is a distinct cultural and economic divide between the Dainfern College students and the LEAP students, but through their interaction they are able to analyse and examine their differences and find out what they have in common.
The Diepsloot children have been to watch some of the school plays, attended assemblies and have participated in some of the sports at the college. Dainfern College students have in return visited Diepsloot and seen township life first hand.
“Going forward, we hope to be able to build on greater involvement in sports and perhaps hold camps during which the children will be able to interact in groups for longer periods of time,” Ross says.