Phetoho, established in 2012, means “Change/Transformation through Education” and has evolved from our existing Alexandra Township projects: Leratong Pre-School, Sigiya Sonke Dance Group and Ratang Bana Child Support. The view of Gumboots is that education has emerged as the single most effective way of bringing about change in South Africa, by creating employment and closing the poverty gap. Although all children have access to schooling, the standard of education available to township children is much lower than in more affluent areas, particularly in the areas of reading and maths.
The Phetoho project seeks to develop the potential of individual children in the hope that those benefitting can use their skills and personal resources later in life, and ultimately be agents for change in their own communities. Under the banner of Phetoho, Gumboots has supported children in several ways:
- As a start, four Sigiya Sonke dancers were funded to attend the United Church School (UCS) in Yeoville for the last two years of their schooling. This included funding their fees, uniforms, transport and lunch boxes. UCS is a small, privately run institution with good teaching and back-up support. All four passed their final matric exams and went on to do further tertiary studies and to find employment. We have continued to support them and are currently funding three of them in various ways.
- We have continued to fund younger children at UCS, with selection based on their ability and motivation. Our hope was that an early intervention would give them the best chance of success. There are currently two children at the school who are doing very well. Sadly, despite carefully considered selection criteria, some of them have not succeeded due to their very disadvantaged circumstances, living in homes with limited or no electricity.
- We cover the cost of school uniforms, stationery and lunch boxes for the Sigiya Sonke dancers and some of the Ratang Bana children. Without a uniform, children are unable to attend South African schools.
- Two orphaned sisters from Ratang Bana are also funded for their education needs by Phetoho.
- We have sponsored six young girls to attend the St Mary’s School Saturday Outreach Programme, which assists learners from Grade 10-12 with their studies, particularly maths and science. The matric rate pass of learners who have attended the programme is impressive – five completed their studies and achieved higher grades because of their attendance at the Saturday School, thereby opening the door to tertiary studies.
- An activity club was created for outings and activities with money raised through the Big Give in 2018. The aim was to broaden children’s experiences by taking them out of the township to see places of learning and interest in and around Johannesburg. Over 400 children benefitted from these outings, such as wildlife centres, outdoor adventure parks, science and children’s museums, the Constitutional Court, and craft and performing arts events.