Drive aims to take stress out of go­ing back to school

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JA­NIS KIN­N­EAR

IN AN ef­fort to boost aca­demic re­sults and deal with a lack of school re­sources for dis­ad­van­taged pupils liv­ing in town­ships, a team of artists have ini­ti­ated a Back­2S­chool 2014 char­ity drive to col­lect sta­tionery.

The project was ini­ti­ated by Young Smiles, a Gugulethu char­ity formed in June, which aims to bring about “pos­i­tive change” and mo­ti­vate pupils to as­pire to a brighter fu­ture by help­ing them im­prove their school­ing.

Cit­ing the trend of chil­dren drop­ping out of school, par­tic­u­larly in the town­ships, be­cause of a lack of funds and learn­ing ma­te­ri­als, Young Smiles was es­tab­lished by the founder of Artis­tic.I.Am Photography and il­lus­tra­tor Lux­olo Poyo, 22, and free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher Sinethemba Dangazele, 21.

“We as Young Smiles have de­rived this ini­tia­tive to try and com­bat this re­cur­ring sit­u­a­tion of pupils drop­ping out. It’s a move­ment that caters for less for­tu­nate chil­dren liv­ing in in­for­mal com­mu­ni­ties all over Cape Town. The pro­gramme is a way to en­gage and ed­u­cate young peo­ple in tak­ing back their fu­ture, help­ing one another and show­ing the rest of the coun­try that to­gether we can in­deed achieve more,” Poyo said.

The char­ity was geared to pro­vid­ing a plat­form to “bet- ter” the ed­u­ca­tion ex­pe­ri­ence, aid­ing young peo­ple wish­ing to achieve good re­sults.

“There are su­per-smart kids in th­ese schools, but they of­ten don’t get no­ticed be­cause they lack re­sources,” Poyo said.

In Au­gust, Young Smiles hosted a poetry event to raise funds for Phakama, a lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion that teaches chil­dren to dance and play in­stru­ments.

The fund- raiser was fol­lowed by a drive to col­lect do­na­tions of cloth­ing, books, toys and other items which could im­prove the home life of un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren.

But they soon re­alised that pupils were strug­gling to ex­cel in their school­work, many hav­ing un­em­ployed par­ents un­able to af­ford ba­sic and much­needed ed­u­ca­tional tools. The duo re­cently went on to ini­ti­ate the Back­2S­chool 2014 drive which, de­pend­ing on the amount of sta­tionery col­lected, will be de­liv­ered to Grade 8 pupils at var­i­ous schools.

“As we all agree, ed­u­ca­tion is one’s most pow­er­ful tool to suc­ceed in life. We be­lieve no child should be placed with the bur­den of not be­ing able to achieve in class due to the lack of books, pens and any other tools re­quired in class­room learn­ing.

“With so many par­ents deal­ing with un­em­ploy­ment, we strive to re­lieve the stress of the back-to-school sea­son,” said Poyo.

The char­ity team chose chil- dren en­ter­ing high school, who they said of­ten spent the first few weeks “writ­ing on scrap pa­per” while wait­ing for writ­ing ma­te­ri­als, or stayed home be­cause they didn’t have the right uni­form or the cor­rect sta­tionery.

“If you look at the text­book de­lay which Lim­popo schools ex­pe­ri­enced, imag­ine just not hav­ing a book to write in,” Poyo said.

Hop­ing to draw in­ter­est from schools across the city, the char­ity has al­ready been ap­proached by Clare­mont High School, which wants to get its pupils in­volved in the sta­tionery drive.

Dangazele be­lieves that with­out good ed­u­ca­tion, the rate of poverty will con­tinue to surge.

“Ed­u­ca­tion should be the num­ber one pri­or­ity, and that’s why the Back­2S­chool 2014 drive is im­por­tant to pro­mote equal ed­u­ca­tion for ev­ery­one,” he said.

But they are frank that they can’t do it alone.

“We hope to in­spire other young peo­ple to get in­volved in im­ple­ment­ing change in their com­mu­ni­ties too.

“We ask ca­pa­ble fam­i­lies and or­gan­i­sa­tions to help grow this pro­gramme, and change the lives of hun­dreds, pos­si­bly thou­sands of school­child­ren,” Poyo said.

● For in­for­ma­tion on how to do­nate sta­tionery, visit YoungsmilesSA@ ya­hoo.co.za.

ja­nis.kin­n­ear@inl.co.za

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