Global Reach: Grantee Partners

Ithemba Lethu Learning Centre

Context

The education system in South Africa is failing. According to the most recent World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report (2016), the quality of the South African Education system is ranked 137th among 139 nations, with the quality of its maths and science education ranked 139. While the official national high school pass rate in South Africa in 2017 was 75.1%, education experts such as Nicholas Spaull whose blog on education is widely read and discussed in South Africa, note that the official pass rate masks the fact that teachers and schools let fewer (low performing) students reach and write the matric exam, which artificially inflates pass rates. According to Spaull, the real pass rate for 2017 is 55%. Many students drop out of school before grade 12 and South African learners are already performing significantly below international standards as early as primary school. For example, the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) found that 78% of South African Grade 4 students could not read for meaning in any language (vs. 4% in the United States), and the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) showed that 61% of Grade 5 learners could not add and subtract three or four digit whole numbers. Moreover, these statistics are averages and there is significant disparity in educational quality and student performance in poorer, black South African townships and better-resourced (predominantly white) suburban schools.


About

Ithemba Lethu Learning was founded in 2004 by a consortium of teachers throughout Africa to help refugees integrate into South African culture. It aims to offer free math and science tutoring to disadvantaged upper primary and high school students. The organization became part of a network of independent, no-fee schools in
South Africa to promote equal access to quality education. Through this, marginalized youth from townships receive academic and life skills they need to become future leaders.

EMpower’s Current Grant to Ithemba Lethu Learning

EMpower’s 5th and final grant to Ithemba Lethu provides weekly math and science tutoring for 950 upper primary and secondary school students from resource-poor communities around Cape Town to strengthen their academic performance. Another aspect of the grant is to provide computer literacy classes to 120 upper primary
students to prepare them for secondary school.

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