The Sozo Educentre Programme

The Sozo Educentre Programme – Be inspired

In a nutshell

The Sozo Educentre provides afterschool support in education and other areas, in a safe and healthy environment.

What we do

The Sozo Educentre is the flagship programme of the Sozo Foundation that provides a safe space for high school learners (between the ages of 13 – 18 years) to be equipped and empowered within their own community so as to achieve their full potential. After-school tutoring and academic assistance is offered three days a week, focusing on science and maths to young people at a central accessible venue, the Vrygrond Community Library. The programme provides alternative role models who are committed as mentors and tutors to help grow and develop every individual to be able to take responsibility of their own dreams through commitment, perseverance, shared learning, giving back and fun. Our mission is to see every child finish high school successfully and to assist each learner with an opportunity of further education that will lead to a dignified job.

How we do it

The Sozo Educentre programme has six key areas of intervention. These are outlined in the table below:

Tutoring We provide Educentre students with the intensive academic support that they need. Learners are provided with 5 days of tutoring on a weekly basis. The tutoring is founded on peer learning methodology, with some learners assisting as tutor reps and learner grade heads. The tutoring is conducted in a safe space with a 1:5 tutor to learner ratio. Quarterly meetings are held with learners' parents.  
Computer Literacy

At Educentre, learners are given access to a wealth of information on the internet. The computer literacy intervention includes a: a) Basics in Computer Literacy Workshop, and b) an advanced workshop with capacity building in powerpoint and excel. 

Psycho-Social Intervention Our social worker provides emotional support  to our learners, as well as their families, helping them to navigate tough situations. The Psycho-Social Interventions include: a) counselling, b) a support group for Grade 12 learners, c) parent input sessions, d) a Family Strengthening Programme,  and e) a lifeskills worshop.
Career Inspiring Initiatives (CII) We inspire our  learners to exceed beyond high school by exposing them to career and study options. The CIIs include: a) short courses,  b) excursions, and c) career guidance. 
Mentorship Our learners are guided and supported by mentors. These include a) Grade Mentors who provide oversight and relational support to specific grades and b) one-on-one mentoring for more senior learners. 
Nutrition We provide our students with a nutritious meal everyday. Workshops on healthy eating and nutrition are also provided. 

What we have achieved

Tutoring
The tutoring sessions have provided students with assistance with their core subjects (maths, science and languages) and hereby enabled them to gain a better understanding of these subjects and improve their academic results.

Computer Literacy
The computer literacy intervention has enabled more students to acquire computer skills.

Psycho-Social Intervention
Achievements of the psycho-social intervention include:
- Learners being equipped with knowledge about their health (sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, and adolescent health related issues) and how to protect their health.
- Providing highly vulnerable youth with access to psycho-social interventions with the aim of improving their wellbeing, safety and health, including psychological health.
- Hosting meetings with learners’ parents and hosting parent input sessions, hereby enabling parents to play a more active role in supporting their children’s education.
- Improving learners’ awareness about gender equality.
- Improving and equipping learners with leadership skills through their involvement as Learner Representatives.
- Improving the self-esteem/ self-image of learners through engagement in these psycho-social interventions.

Career Inspiring Initiatives (CII)
- Providing learners with a greater awareness of future career opportunities and inspiring them to have positive aspirations for their future and careers.
- Providing an opportunity for Grade 11 and 12 learners to engage in career guidance workshops and open days.
- Learners have been able to attend CII excursions and courses.
- Learners have been assisted in their applications for post matric opportunities and have been assisted in applying for bursaries.

Mentorship
The mentorship programme has provided learners with increased social support and guidance.

Nutrition
Through providing learners with meals, the nutrition initiative has not only provided learners with improved nutrition but it has enabled them to focus better on school related tasks, and consequently equipped them to function better academically.

The table below highlights the Educentre's achievements between 2011 and 2016. These achievements include: the number of learners who participated in the programme each year, the number of tutoring sessions which were hosted every year and the number of hours spent tutoring learners, the number of career inspiring initiatives learners engaged in each year, and the total number of meals provided to learners each year. 

Year Learners No. of  Tutoring Sessions Total Hours of Tutoring Career Inspiring Initiatives (CIIs) Total Meals
2011 30 80 160 0 4800
2012 40 105 210 8 8400
2013 43 104 208 83 8944
2014 47 115 230 62 10810
2015 60 115 235 72 5415
2016 80 162 405 142 9080
Total  300 681 1448 367 47449

What we have learned

Social Issues
The community of Vrygrond is rife with gangsterism, crime and young people are often exposed to substance, physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.
Overcrowded Schools & Home
Local schools are under immense pressure, with classrooms hosting 50 to 60 learners. A common factor in Vrygrond homes is overcrowding, which leaves limited physical space for learners to do their school work.
Poor Role Models
With few opportunities for a better future, combined with poor role models, youth are easily swayed to abuse drugs and alcohol and often enter into a life of gansterism and crime.
Limited Resources
Due to school limitations and community obstacles, 50% of learners in South Africa drop out of school, leaving without any formal education (Statistics South Africa, 2014. Quarterly Labour Force Survey Quarter 2).
Lack of Academic & Parental Support
South African schools are underperforming, and South Africa’s maths and science education was rated as the worst out of 148 countries (World Economic Forum, 2014. Global Competitiveness Report for 2014–2015). Coupled with this, many parents lack the basic skills to support learners at home.