Being educated in a township school in the Eastern-Cape of South Africa is challenging. Facilities are poor, schools are so over-crowded and there is a severe lack of teachers to cope with an increasing student population.
The story behind education in the Eastern Cape of South Africa is tough to imagine. By the age of 13, approximately 45% of students are functionally illiterate, with that number rising closer to 56% of those students who are functionally innumerate. As a focus on English and Maths has become more paramount, most schools have withdrawn any Physical Education from its curriculum. However, through the outstanding charitable work of United Through Sport and Bridgwater College, students living in townships are flourishing with the opportunities they are provided with.
The BTEC Extended Diploma Sport & Exercise students have completed their seventh residential to Port Elizabeth in South Africa, helping to transform the lives of hundreds of children. The students showed outstanding enthusiasm, commitment and teamwork to coach the children in the township schools. They coped with poor facilities, conditions and hot temperatures, to deliver coaching sessions of a high standard. Not only did the students coach sport, they also delivered English, maths and life-skills lessons to educate children about the importance of these core subjects.
This is the course’s seventh visit to work with the United Through Sport in Port Elizabeth, and 27 students took part. They were able to continue where they left off last year, taking more equipment out to schools. They raised funds for additional equipment and kit and to run the township schools’ tournament, including trophies and providing all children with lunch. This money also helps target gifted and talented sporting children, to provide them with extra English, Maths and lessons. The Senior School of Excellence run by United Through Sport has been so successful, this year 100% of students passed their exams and are eligible to go to University, a task that would have been unimaginable seven years ago.
The students worked hard to coach football, rugby, netball and hockey to the township children during the trip, culminating in their organisation of an inter-school tournament. The students organised and ran the township tournament for 6 schools and more than 240 U13 children competed in the competition. Student Gina Cunningham said,
“I have really grown in confidence as a coach and leader and this visit has inspired me to develop into a career in teaching. Seeing how children live in difficult conditions, yet have the resilience to be happy and love life is something that I will never forget.”
Students also spent time working with local children teaching maths and English. James Annison, former student at King Alfred School in Burnham-on Sea, commented,
“I thought this was going to be a really challenging task as the class sizes on average vary from 40 – 50 students per room. However, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching in the classroom, seeing how my actions were helping to develop the children’s understanding was incredible.”
The students were able to award the winning schools medals and trophies, subsidised by the trophycentre.com.
A huge thank you to all those who have supported the venture through donations at local bag packs and to the kind donation of the local business C & S Electrical Limited and all those who have sponsored students for this trip. We also need to say a big thank you to Morrisons in Bridgwater for supporting us through bag packing, and to all their customers who have been brilliant in their donations and interest in the trip. Without their support we would not have been able to run the tournament and feed all 240 children.
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