South Africa joins the global #LightsOnAfterschool movement

We called on all after-school organisations in South Africa to participate in the global #LightsOnAfterSchool campaign that took place on 22 October.

The goal was to shine a spotlight on the NGO After School sector and to increase awareness on the impact it has on improving learner outcomes and broader education as a whole.

This was the first year that South African After School Programmes (ASPs) joined the 20-year old campaign, driven by The Learning Trust, the Western Cape Government’s Youth and After School Programme Office and Community Chest.

“Participating in this movement came at such a pivotal time, as South Africa’s most vulnerable children have suffered through tremendous learning challenges this year.

“Continued support for the South African NGO After School sector is essential if we are to mitigate the impact Covid-19 has had on learning, and the #LightsOnAfterSchool campaign highlighted the critical role these programmes play in providing equal access to educational as well as pyscho-social support,” said Sibongile Khumalo, Executive Director.

The first #LightsOnAfterSchool campaign in South Africa

The #LightsOnAfterSchool campaign was launched by the nonprofit US-based organisation Afterschool Alliance, on 22 October 2000, and is chaired by Former California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The movement calls on ASP partners throughout the world to generate awareness for equal and quality access to learning programmes.

This year was the organisation’s 21st annual campaign and was dedicated to focusing on everything ASPs have done in these unprecedented times by hosting events and roundtable discussions with policy makers, community leaders and educational institutions.

“ASPs could celebrate in any way they’d like and get creative by way of writing a poem or a piece of music or hosting a small event in their local community showcasing the work they do,” Khumalo said of the South African participation in the #LightsOnAfterschool movement.

The Advance Edukos Foundation in Strandfontein, Western Cape showed their support for the campaign by hosting art hubs every Friday during October.

Founder and Programme Director, Wendy Abrahams said at the time, “We are 100% behind the #LightsOnAfterSchool campaign, because for too long educational stakeholders have not seen the value that these programmes offer.

“Our art sessions not only teach artistic skills but provide a platform for youth to be vulnerable and experience healing.  It is a safe space for experimental and expressive learning as well as a place where youth can have a sense of belonging. After-school programmes bridge the gap between school and the home.”

The Future of the After School sector

Executive Director, Sibongile Khumalo, maintains that the challenge ahead, to shape a post-pandemic world where children can thrive, is immense.

Despite the climate for funding in the non-profit sector being unfavourable at present, especially for the emerging grassroots organisations that we support, we intend to continue being a funder that provides a safety net for our grantee partners.

“In a time of perpetual uncertainty, technological innovations and interventions are pointless if they are not accessible to learners from under-resourced and poor communities.

“ASPs have to be the conduit for diverse learning opportunities, so they can continue to be a powerful player in meeting the needs of millions of underserved children.”

Our future intention is to drive policy development in the area of extended learning, by encouraging and supporting government to issue policy guidelines around incorporating co-curricular activities as part of a full school day.

Further to this, we wish to see provincial education departments partnering with NGOs to deliver after school activities in marginalised schools and communities.

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