R - 3
All South African students are required to complete their schooling in English or Afrikaans, regardless of their home language or level of English proficiency.
A strong foundation in a learner's first language is vital for cognitive development and conceptual understanding in other subject areas.
Learners in rural areas have little to no access to books, libraries or even newspapers and television. Exposure to written text is limited to school textbooks which are often shared between learners in large classes.
As a result, learners quickly fall behind in literacy and numeracy in the early grades. These weak foundations
set them up for a future of playing 'catch-up'. Missing gaps in these early years also contributes heavily to low literacy and high drop-out rates.
Our Nobalisa programme employs passionate people form the local community to work with young children in the early grades. These 'Nobalisas' or 'Community Readers' work with eight junior schools and also run Reading Clubs at their homes for children living in their communities.
At schools, the Nobalisas work alongside teachers who are often faced with overwhelming class sizes - sometimes over 100 children in a single class. In this way, we allow children to read and learn in smaller groups.
Axium is on a mission to encourage young children to grow an intrinsic love of numbers, stories and reading. We have no doubt that this will continue to allow learners to access new knowledge and achieve academic excellence throughout their lives.
6 - 9
'let us build each other'
Students begin their schooling by learning in isiXhosa and are then required to transition into an English curriculum for all subject areas in Grade 4.
Axium Education operates in rural areas where English is classified as a foreign language.
The general lack of infrustructure and basic services in the area also impacts the exposure students have to English as they are unable to access television, internet, newspapers, magazines and English radio.
On paper, English is the medium of both teaching and learning. However, in practice this is seldom the case as teachers are aware that, if they did teach in English, their learners would not understand. This is in conflict with the requirements and examinations of an English curriculum.
Our after-school Masakhane program works with 120 students from Grades 6-9 by facilitating high-quality, creative English and mathematics lessons which support their formal schooling experience.
Students attend afternoon classes three times a week. During these lessons they have the opportunity to use Netbooks (tablets) and an offline mathematics tutoring program to reinforce their understanding and practice problem-solving.
Masakhane's fun, creative and interactive English lessons aim to grow the English proficiency of students by providing them with a safe and experimental space - a stark contrast to the rigid style of learning in local schools. Students engage with English through story books, games, songs, movies and drama.
In addition to this learner-focused support, we engage with both parents and teachers from the local community and schools in order to learn more about rural education challenges and better inform Axium's support strategies.
'place of growth'
10 - 12
Apartheid's oppressive schooling system is still evident today and especially apparent in the senior schools. Before South Africa's democracy, few black students would make it to 'senior secondary school' (Grades 10-12). In our surrounding area there are 100 schools - only 7 of which are senior schools.
There continues to be an overwhelming shortage of accessible high schools in rural areas. This results in large numbers of students either dropping out or getting left behind in overcrowded classrooms.
Some students may be fortunate enough to complete their schooling, however, this seldom leads to tertiary study opportunities or successful careers. Many high school graduates in rural areas remain unemployed and dependent on government grants. Many also seek job opportunities in cities as mine workers, laborers and domestic workers.
Many rural schools do not have qualified mathematics and science teachers. The number of students in rural areas who achieve a mathematics and science Bachelors pass (university exemption) is exceptionally low - 1 in 1000.
Axium Education recognizes the value of graduating high school with good results, especially in key subjects such as English, mathematics and science.
At our Ekukhuleni program we offer additional tuition in these key subject areas as well as leadership mentoring to 120 high potential students from six senior secondary schools in the area. Ekukhuleni operates every Saturday and during the school holidays. These Ekukhuleni students are then responsible for leading weekday 'Study Groups' with 400 of their peers at each of the six schools. Axium supports these study groups by providing academic materials and weekly tutoring visits.
Our Ekukhuleni program provides student-focused support through quality teaching and an inspiring learning environment. We strive to provide students with career opportunities through exposure to different careers assistance with and tertiary application processes.
In 2018, a partnership with online learning platform Siyavula has allowed our learners to access tailored math and science practice exercises online. Click here to find out how your old cellphone could help a rural child use this powerful tool.
tertiary access &
guidance, applications & skills development
Rural areas receive very little exposure to different kinds of professions. Many students and community members are aware of only a few occupations, such as teacher, doctor, nurse, pastor and mine labourer. In addition to this, information regarding university requirements, application processes and bursary schemes are in great need.
Because of a limited understanding of the options available to them, students lack the ability to set goals and work towards them. Having an idea of what kind of career they would like to pursue serves as motivation to remain in school and graduate high school well.
Axium Education supports our Ekukhuleni (senior) learners by exposing them to different career options and assisting them with university and bursary application processes.
In addition to this, we also support the professional development and training of local Axium staff and the wider community by assisting them in general administration around rewriting their school-leaving examinations, applying to tertiary institutions or with compiling and upgrading CV's for future employment opportunities.
Strengthening School Leadership
& School Management Teams
Teachers in rural areas are faced with overwhelming challenges that are incredibly complex to solve.
Overcrowded classrooms, a lack of textbooks and the absence of other resources, many illiterate parents and a lack of academic support from the families of students makes for an uninspiring and unsupportive teaching environment.
Most teachers who work at rural schools spend a large portion of their day commuting from their homes, while a handful of them sacrifice time with their family and rent accommodation near their school.
Most obstacles are rural-specific and therefore effective solutions to these challenges are largely dependent on the ingenuity, creativity and leadership of rural teachers and schools themselves.
Axium Education supports professional networks of teachers across schools and subject areas. These networks are aimed at providing opportunities for school leaders and educators from over 15 schools to meet in a productive and inspiring space where ideas can be shared and challenges can be tackled collaboratively.
For a number of years Axium has also facilitated mathematics and science teacher networks that are focused on improving curriculum understanding and sharing ideas around pedagogical practice.
We recognize that the success of a rural schools relies heavily on the strength and effectiveness of its leadership. Axium facilitates a Senior Management Team network compromised of key leaders in local schools. We run 'SMT' retreats and workshops aimed to improve the management of schools.
& Rural Intervention Research
Sustainable & Systemic Change
South Africa's rural schools face tremendous challenges because of the structural and systemic legacies of Apartheid.
As we are a small organisation, we cannot hope to tackle these massive issues by ourselves. However, through our relationships with universities and civil society organisations involved in education advocacy, we can use our rural location to first understand, then elevate the concerns of the schools around us.
Axium aims to improve the possibilities for learning in rural schools by addressing some of the systemic and structural issues that impact learning by:
Producing high-quality, rural-focused research that has a strong connection to practice;
Actively sharing the learning from our work and research, as well as that of others, with local schools and key decision-makers elsewhere;
Partnering with schools and advocacy organisations to elevate issues of common concern.