Improving kids’ lives

Daryn Wood
LESS than one-third of South African youth have a matric certificate, with a little more than a tenth having tertiary qualifications, according to the General Household Survey 2011.
One man is driven to changing this cycle through his initiative – the Homework Club.
Bathandwa Ndwanyana, 36, of Walmer Township, provides free extra lessons to pupils from Monday to Thursday in two donated containers stationed in a resident’s yard. The children receive a warm meal every day.
Ndwanyana assists pupils from Grades 3 to 12, most of whom are from Walmer schools. He has 235 pupils overall, but 175 attend his classes on a full-time basis.
Although lacking adequate facilities, Ndwanyana is not lacking motivation.
“Many Walmer youth are dropping out of school,” he said. “It is hard for the community to see the product of the kids – the future doctors or journalists. But I see the success here.”
Ndwanyana is a former SABC journalist who also studied teaching and worked for Walmer High School for two years. He also spent a term working for Masifunde Learner Development.
The Homework Club began in 2011 when parents approached Ndwanyana to give their children extra lessons.
He focuses on English and maths and liaises with teachers from the different schools in terms of where the pupils are with the syllabus.
“The teachers tell me that they see the difference [after the pupils start attending the Homework Club]. If they don’t come here, they don’t get any help at all,” Ndwanyana said.
He said he found it distressing that some children between Grade 3 and Grade 7 could not count or spell. One Grade 8 pupil had difficulty reading at a Grade 3 level, he said.
Ndwanyana gives the pupils homework to do on weekends and holds special lessons on Saturdays for those who are really struggling.
“But it is not only about education. I visit the families and I notice there are social problems such as parents who drink or the children are being abused. The children see that I care about them and it improves our relationship.”
He stresses to parents that they need to work together with him. Ndwanyana keeps the parents informed by sending them a progress report.
The father of three receives no funding and relies only on donations. There are no computers for the children and he has to scrape money together for printing and to pay the rent for the use of the yard.
He has received some assistance from the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP), a charity organisation which has organised sponsors for chairs, tables and ingredients for the soup kitchen.
“He does everything on his own, he shows so much initiative,” said Denis Brislin of SSVP. “And he works for nothing.”
Ndwanyana dreams of having a bigger space for the Homework Club and is hoping to take the children on a camp to Port Alfred next month.
If you would like to assist in any way, you can contact Denis on 076-117-7745 or Bathandwa directly on 071-740-6947.

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