When University of Cape Town (UCT) Ombud Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa enrolled her daughter Mimosa Mguqulwa in the SHAWCO Shine Saturday school, the teenager wasn’t thrilled. The learner (then in grade 11) believed that five days of school a week were sufficient.
It didn’t take her long, however, to see the benefits, which were corroborated by her matric results. As such, mother and daughter encourage others to join the programme, which is open for applications for 2019 until 29 January, with 25% discount on offer to UCT staff.
Established by the Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation Academic Interventions Unit (SHAWCO AIU) in 2009, SHAWCO Shine provides grade 9, 10, 11 and 12 learners with curriculum-led tuition and mentoring in accounting, English, life sciences, mathematics, maths literacy, natural sciences and physical sciences.
Learners come from 42 schools, most of which are located in developing communities in and around Cape Town. Tuition is provided at UCT on Saturdays by 35 educators drawn from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
In addition, Shine participants engage in career workshops, practicals and national benchmark tests. Winter school practicals in life science and chemistry were also recently introduced for grade 12s during the mid-year vacation.
Participants on the Shine programme have consistently shown significant improvement at school, achieving excellent matric results, with many going on to university. They’re pursuing degrees in engineering, health sciences, commerce and related fields, which confirms that the initiative’s focus on mathematics and science is paying off.
But, said Makamandela-Mguqulwa, the programme does not only bolster academic performance; it advances diversity and provides youngsters with an effective introduction to campus.
“The diversity of the schools involved ... provides opportunities to people who would otherwise not have access to additional tuition.”
Not just about better marks
“Certainly, Shine is a serious academic programme; that is clear from onset,” she said.
“When Mimo began, parents and learners (wearing their school uniforms) were addressed at a launch event on the first Saturday by the programme directors and teachers. The approach was something like university orientation, but it also conveyed a sense of discipline and responsibility right from the start.
“Learners and their parents were encouraged to commit to the academic programme, but that was only one part of its value.
“The diversity of the schools involved not only provides opportunities to people who would otherwise not have access to additional tuition, but it also creates a community of peers among learners from different schools.
“In addition, it gives learners from a wide base – who might otherwise never visit – access to campus, which is important in achieving UCT’s transformation goals.”
Her daughter agrees.
“I went to Shine because my parents wanted me to. I knew I needed particular help in maths, but I wasn’t that keen on getting into uniform every Saturday,” said Mguqulwa, who attended Wynberg Girls’ High School and is a provincial soccer player.
“But I saw the advantages almost immediately and got a lot more out of the programme than I could’ve hoped for. I grew much more confident at school because I understood concepts better. I also enjoyed meeting people from different schools and backgrounds. I made new friends and found it useful to learn from other learners, as well as from the teachers.
“The questions others ask and the way teachers explain reinforced what I learnt and understood at school. In addition, small classes [they are limited to 15 to 20 learners in each] and the length of the lessons meant we were able to go into greater depth than is often possible at school.”
SHAWCO Shine has come a long way since it began in nearly 10 years ago with 50 grade 11 learners, four educators and four partnering schools, namely Plumstead, Norman Henshilwood, Livingstone and Windsor high schools.
“UCT and SHAWCO are making clear, tangible and effective contributions to addressing the issues of education in our small way,” said founder of Shine and interim director at SHAWCO Thara Thomas Kallungal.
“Shine, which will recruit 700 learners in 2019 (up from 600 in 2018), has evolved to meet the academic requirements and needs of learners, and to be relevant to the current trends in education.
“We have expanded the programme because of high demand from parents, partnering schools and learners, and in keeping with UCT and SHAWCO’s mission to ensure that more previously disadvantaged and capable young people are supported in their quest for better lives.”
“Shine has evolved to meet the academic requirements and needs of learners, and to be relevant to the current trends in education.”
Tuition, she added, is provided by proficient and carefully screened WCED educators, some of whom are past principals, and others current deputy principals and heads of departments.
“They go through a thorough vetting process and are continuously evaluated and monitored on performance to ensure that learners receive the best professional curriculum and academic support. Teacher evaluation is also conducted by learners who evaluate the teachers on lesson planning, presentation, knowledge of the curriculum, discipline, and so on,” said Kallungal.
Together with Shine educators, SHAWCO AIU compiled standardised workbooks for all grades included on the programme.
“We’ve discovered that many educators and schools in the Western Cape are using our workbooks in classrooms, which means we’re having an even greater impact on wider communities than we imagined,” she added.
To ensure sustainability, Shine charges registration, tuition and workbook fees. The model however, is designed so that those who can afford the fees subsidise those who cannot.
In addition, as part of its drive to support and give back to the UCT community, SHAWCO – in partnership with the Schools Development Unit and the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) and with the support of UCT management – is offering UCT staff 25% discount for the 2019 intake of the Shine programme.
“We encourage the children of UCT staff to join the SHAWCO Shine school of excellence and benefit from the initiative,” said Kallungal.
“Not only is it a good opportunity to advance learning, but it also gives learners the opportunity to experience campus and meet fellow learners from across the Cape Metropole.”
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The Students' Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO) runs various health and education programmes. Approximately 2 000 UCT students are involved.
The community partnership and social entrepreneurship programmes, that address inequality, are managed by 32 full-time and 5 part-time professional staff.
Operating in the Western and Eastern Cape, the health programme provides primary healthcare to 5 000 adults and children (annually) close to their homes, with fully equipped mobile clinics.
The education programme gives academic support and homework assistance to 1 300 learners weekly with structured education projects that help improve the academic ability of learners.