Providing quality after-school programmes to children in low-income areas can assist in addressing the issue of education inequality in South Africa. These programmes will however have limited impact if the children’s home environments are destructive.

Some children manage to thrive, Despite the risks and adversity that they face, some children still manage to thrive. This can be due to an innate characteristic, but it can also be nurtured by the most basic elements of love, care and connectedness. American psychologist, Ann Masten, calls this the ‘ordinary magic’ that can build the resilience that enables children to succeed.

The Aftacool project aims to:

1) create the ‘ordinary magic’ that helps children to succeed even in the face of poverty and adversity

2) Increase literacy by encouraging reading for understanding

3) Encourage children in learning Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths through STEAM activities

We do this by training and supporting local moms to host after-school clubs with primary school aged children living in their area. Our team visits each club bi-weekly, dropping off new resource boxes that contains fun and creative activities themed around different picture books. The boxes include activities that focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) and emotional awareness. The children are also encouraged to borrow books from the Mobile library and earn points to spend at our swop shop for each book they read and understand.

Most jobs currently require some level of digital skills, but it is predicted that 5,7 million jobs in South Africa will be digitally automated within the next 10 years. By 2030, robot automaton will fill approximately 800-million employment positions globally. Fifteen years from now, two-thirds of today’s five-year-olds will find themselves in jobs that don’t exist today, while the jobs that do exist won’t necessarily be located where the job seekers live.

South Africans already have unequal access to education and technology and the fourth industrial revolution is only worsening this inequality. Private schools have been ahead of the government in teaching tech-focused skills and, although the government is now introducing subjects like coding and computational thinking, rolling these out in underprivileged schools will be challenging and take time.

Computer Explorers is a weekly computational thinking programme targeting grade 4-7 learners. Using resources and curriculum designed by Computer Science for All in SF, this programme familiarizes children with cognitive skills used in computer science as well as with the basic concepts of coding and programming.

After-school Maths Clubs provide fun, exciting and engaging maths activities for learners in Grades 1-6. The lesson plans and activities are designed to build strong number-sense skills and a love for mathematics.The clubs allow the learners opportunities to actively engage with mathematics and sense making as well as for mathematical confidence building.

South Africa currently sits with a crisis in primary education where learners are still bound by using concrete strategies to solve problems. Many learners are ‘trapped’ in using concrete one-to-one counting methods or dependence on algorithms without understanding. The result is an absence of flexibility and fluency with both numbers and operations.

Based on the research and development work carried out in the South African Numeracy Chair (SANC) project on after school clubs since 2011, it was noted that working with learners to focus specifically on the development of fluency and number sense over a short period of time has positive results.

We are currently running a weekly Maths Club with 20 Gr.4-7 learners at our learning centre. We are also using the activities and resources obtained from The Maths Club Collective in our AftaCool programme that reaches >140 children. The children really enjoy the math games and we can see their confidence growing week by week.

If you want to start your own Maths Club visit http://mathsclubs.co.za/.

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