Educating future leaders

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Sharing the learning

Staffed by a diverse group of tutors from all over Africa, the LEAP Learning Centre is not only teaching critical skills to a generation of future LEAP students, it is helping them understand more about tolerance and hope. We spoke to tutor Christophe Nyankurubike about his experience at the centre and in the community.

Established in 2004, The LEAP Learning Centre runs a community based maths and science tutoring programme in 12 feeder schools across five township communities in which LEAP works in Cape Town – Langa, Crossroads, Gugulethu Delft and Kalkfontein. The centre has around 50 tutors mostly made up by African refugees and nationals from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Botswana and Zimbabwe and therefore doubles as a valuable refugee integration programme.. Tutors receive regular mentoring from LEAP educators and staff.

Christophe Nyankurubike – affectionately known as Papa Chris – has been a LEAP Learning Centre tutor since he met LEAP’s Executive Director, John Gilmour in 2005 and his life changed. Originally a teacher from Burundi, Papa Chris found tutoring young South Africans challenging.

It was quite tough. The level of understanding of maths is very low compared to young people back at home. But I think that is because often I didn’t understand what they were going through. I had to go back to university to do maths education and it is much easier now.

As well as being a tutor, Papa Chris is employed by Edupeg at Litha Primary in Gugulethu – this opportunity came out of a partnership between LEAP and the HCI Foundation. He also organises a yearly winter tutoring camp through Commonground Church at Litha. There’s no doubting his commitment to learning and sharing in his adopted home. “I would love to see more young people come to the LEAP Learning Centre,” says Chris. “For leaners to go to school to become something; to have more motivation; to understand why they have to go to school; and what their lives are going to look like without education.”

Three afternoons a week are spent covering  critical mathematical concepts that are needed prior to Grade 9, with the fourth  afternoon  allocated to practical science experiments. The aim is to show students the application of science in everyday life,  helping learners grasp science concepts being covered in their classes and make science fun.

Saturday mornings are used to revise the maths concepts covered during the week. To gauge how well learners have understood the material and ensure equality in teaching across all schools, all students enrolled in the LEAP Learning Centre write a standard maths test once a term.

The LEAP Learning Centre is a highly effective and cost-effective education intervention. The centre reaches 840 learners in 12 schools at an average of just R1,350 a year, per student.

“My hope,” says Chris, “is to see the Learning Centre going big within the township. I’m involving my church on Saturdays so that we can reach more young people and get more volunteers to come to help.” Chris’s passion and enthusiasm for the Learning Centre has rubbed off and he has managed to get his church behind him to the extent  that  their main mission on a Saturday is one-on-one teaching. “We are able to ask them lot of questions, what they are struggling with, their background and the social issues they are dealing with.”

When asked what he is thankful for, Papa Chris laughs and says it is a tough question to ask. But he concedes:

“I can’t find enough words to thank John Gilmour for this initiative. I wish South Africa had many more Johns!”

If you have been inspired by the Learning Centre and Chris’s story and would like to know more or support this work, please email Kirstin O’Sullivan.

Values - Everyone at LEAP commits to:

  • Being kind, honest and healthy
  • Being punctual and looking good
  • Working hard and never giving up
  • Admitting and learning from mistakes
  • Confronting issues and being open to change
  • Working together and sharing