Education Access Project
Caring schools and access
Through the generosity of our donors, CIE has been able to support the most vulnerable children in Catholic schools for more than a decade now; currently 70 schools receive bursaries and support.
This has been a two-pronged intervention, involving firstly the distribution of grants to identified learners to support their material needs to stay in school; and, secondly, the promotion of caring schools that are able to care for the most vulnerable in their midst.
There is strong evidence that there are many children in these communities whose survival, care, protection and development is compromised by their living conditions.
CIE’s Education Access Program (E A P) in 41 independent schools across South Africa
For the past ten years the CIE’s Education Access Program (E A P) has been funded by the Solon Foundation to enable the most vulnerable children, especially those affected by HIV/AIDS, to access education.
Parents and schools are assisted with up to 75% of each learner’s school fees. Part of the grant can also be allocated towards food, uniforms, transport, outings and other educational activities. The aim is to create a sense of safety and self-respect for children who may otherwise be excluded.
To date more than 1000 learners have received support directly, but other specials needs and projects are also funded.
Over R40 million has so far been disbursed to schools through these grants.
Below is a story of one of the beneficiaries in the EAP programme. Her name has been changed, but her story is real. She is one of the many learners who have been supported by the programme.
Four and a half years ago, Kelebogile arrived at school, in Grade 9. At this time she only had partial sight in her left eye, as a result of diabetes. She struggled through Grade 9 and was promoted to Grade 10, but spent most of the first term in hospital. Obviously this had a negative effect on her schoolwork, and she had to repeat Grade 10. Her second year in Grade 10 started well, but by mid-year she was rushed to hospital three times.
During meetings with her mother, a single parent, we discovered that, since the medical aid benefits were exhausted, she often was not able to afford all the medication and still pay school fees. It was at this point that Kelebogile was placed on the EAP fund to cover the school fees, and to ensure that she always had the necessary medication.
Unfortunately, her condition has deteriorated and she has now lost all sight in the left eye and the right eye is quite strained.
The amazing thing about Kelebogile is that she has never given up. Though she is quiet and reserved, she is accepted by all in the class - a major achievement as far as teenage girls are concerned! The reason for this is probably that she never complains, is able to enjoy other people’s achievements and is willing to take on any challenge, despite her limitations.
This year she is in Grade 12, and we all hope that she will make it to the final exams. She has obtained special concessions for the final exams, such as extra time and large print. She was hospitalised again during the June exams and missed about half of the them. The week before school opened this term, she came in to write the papers she had missed and was so grateful for the opportunity.
This young lady (she is now 19) has a wonderful gift – she inspires all those around her, both teachers and peers alike. She has a gorgeous smile and an infectious laugh. We regard it as a great privilege to have her in the school – she is a real example of lived courage, determination and hope.