Support plan for underperforming schools

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pretoria - Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy has launched an Extra School Support Programme to provide homework assistance and sporting activities to underperforming schools in the province.

The programme, targeting 960 primary schools, offers learners one hour of supervised homework and one hour of supervised play or physical education after school every day.

Unveiling the programme on Thursday at Nqubela Primary School in Thokoza, Creecy said that part-time workers would be recruited and trained to provide homework assistance as well as sporting activities in partnership with the Extended Public Works Programme of the Department of Infrastructure Development.

The duties of the homework assistants would be to ensure that learners do their homework and that they arrive on time, facilitate studying, check consistency in doing homework, discuss progress and challenges experienced by learners in completing homework, sign homework books, keep an attendance register, and report on successes and challenges.

Schools will receive between six and 14 homework assistants and six to 14 sports and culture assistants up to six safety patrollers and two general supervisors.

Explaining the main reason behind the programme, Creecy said they recognised that parents in low-income households do not have the time to help their children do homework, resulting in poor learner performance.

"Most learners are not supported with their academic work or do not have space to do their homework and some come from child-headed households. The programme ensures that learners have caring and supportive individuals available beyond normal contact time at school.

"It will maximise learner participation, access and development in arts and culture activities, as well as to sporting codes that schools were not previously exposed to such as rugby, football, cricket and netball," she said, adding that all activities will occur after school and end at 4pm each day.

The programme will be rolled out over a three-year period and those employed would be South African citizens with a valid ID and stay near the schools.

Creecy highlighted that preference was given to the unemployed, women and people with disabilities.

She added that part-time workers have also been provided with accredited courses during the school holidays which include induction, supervisory and management skills, interpersonal skills and facilitation, data capturing, safety and security level 1-3 training, professional training and development for homework, sport specific training on coaching and umpiring, arts and culture such as music, dances and creative arts.

The numbers for assistants will depend on school size, and patrollers have additional criteria dependent on risk factors of the school.

Although she did not disclose how much the workers will earn, Creecy assured that all part-time workers would be paid a stipend for the hours they work.

Scholar transport and school nutrition will be adjusted to align with the programme.