SA HERO SERIES: NEW CAMPUS FOR LEAP SCIENCE & MATHS SCHOOLS
Yet another example of the incredible work at the NGO sector is doing to help South Africa deal with the legacy of the past and ”pull itself up by its own bootstraps”
With a 100 percent Grade 12 pass rate and more than 83 percent of students able to pursue tertiary studies, the results of the LEAP Science & Maths Schools in Diepsloot, South Africa, speak for themselves.
Construction is well under way in Diepsloot, Gauteng where a brand-new LEAP school in partnership with Aveng is being built for 300 learners from the community. Currently 210 learners attend LEAP’s Diepsloot school which is operating from rented space in a converted warehouse. The new purpose-built school campus, which is set to open its doors in January 2019 will be the centre of an educational hub for local residents, complete with 11 classrooms, a learning centre, a library, a computer centre, administration block and a community hall.
LEAP Science and Maths Schools provides low cost education to students with potential from high-need communities. The Non-Profit Organisation, which relies entirely on donor partners, has since 2004 opened six schools in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo. Science, Maths and English are mandatory subjects at the schools which have extended learning hours on Saturday and holiday programmes, always emphasising academic success and personal empowerment.
For the past eight years the rented warehouse premises have been a challenge for the learners at LEAP 4, the name for the LEAP school in Diepsloot, which in 2011 was the fourth to be established by the organisation. They have had to cope with high noise levels, no classroom ceilings or proper room dividers as well as extreme heat in summer and cold conditions in winter. Despite this, their Grade 12 class achieved a 100 percent pass rate in the 2017 National Senior Certificate exams. “In spite of the challenges of the current rented premises, we have achieved amazing results and we look forward to achieving even greater results at the new school,” says James Malope, Principal of LEAP 4 in Diepsloot.
The LEAP Science & Maths School strives to play an active part of the community it serves and the new school will be an educational hub for the work of the Global Teachers Institute as it develops a pipeline of innovative teachers for underserved communities such as Diepsloot. In addition the library, learning centre and computer centre will be made available to students from other schools in the area, not only LEAP students. The hall will also be used for various community events in Diepsloot. It is being built on vacant land belonging to the Methodist Church of South Africa (MCSA), who has agreed with LEAP’s long-term vision to invest in education and have waived rent for the first year, during the construction phase.
Thirty members of the Diepsloot community, many of them parents with children at LEAP 4, have received training in construction work and are now working to build the new school their children will attend. They are employing the rammed earth technology method that uses compacted soil. The technology keeps the building cool in summer and warm in winter with no air conditioning required.
Annual operating costs for the school are between R5 million and R7 million. Since 2012 construction group Aveng have contributed funds for all operating expenses at LEAP 4 and are now a key sponsor of the new building. The Roy McAlpine Foundation has contributed R1, 6 million towards building the school library and Total has committed over R2 million. All cement has been donated by AfriSam and bricks have been donated by Brickor.
“We are grateful for this partnership with our donors, the students are excited and can’t wait for the new school to be ready. We remain committed to creating maximum impact in education in South Africa for children living in marginalised communities, through innovative and collaborative partnerships,” concludes John Gilmour, Founder and Executive Director of LEAP Science & Maths Schools.