Education is a powerful tool that can transform lives and open doors to countless opportunities. In fact, the father of our nation, the late Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
In the heart of a disadvantaged community, The Love Trust’s Nokuphila School in Thembisa, has emerged as a beacon of hope, nurturing, and empowering its learners for success. With a strong focus on holistic development, the school goes above and beyond to support its learners past the Grade 7 mark, wanting to assist them throughout their high school years and beyond.
Founded in 2009, The Love Trust is a not-for-profit organisation committed to delivering high quality Christian education and social care to children from vulnerable communities.
The Nokuphila School’s commitment beyond Grade 7
Learners who are granted the opportunity to attend the school, become used to the 360º support they receive at this institution. They are offered private transport, food, stationery, and a space in a classroom that’s not overcrowded, with a maximum of 20 learners per classroom. Oftentimes, leaving the school to attend Grade 8, can come as a shock to the learners, now exposed to longer commutes and crowded classrooms.
The Principal at the Nokuphila School, Mabel Sikhakhane, is a passionate educator, who holds an Honours Degree in Education Management and Leadership. Sikhakhane has taught across the junior foundation, holding a position as the Head of Department, before becoming the school’s current Principal. Sikhakhane states that as part of their outreach, The Love Trust stayed in touch with past learners, monitoring their performance and offering guidance whenever possible.
By supporting these learners, they could clearly see that some were not coping as well in their new environments. This inspired them to start a Saturday school, initially dedicated to extra lessons in the subjects of English and Mathematics.
By providing extra classes on the weekends, the school helps their past learners to build a strong educational foundation, equipping them with the necessary skills for success in higher levels of education.
Nurturing success: Mentoring, guidance, and psychosocial support
Beyond academic support, the Nokuphila School understands the importance of mentorship and guidance in shaping the learners’ lives. The school offers ongoing mentorship programmes that assist them in making informed choices about their subjects, career paths, and future educational opportunities. By providing personalised guidance, the school ensures that each learner receives the support they need to make well-informed decisions, fostering a sense of empowerment and self-belief.
The school goes as far as guiding the learners on how to apply for their South African IDs, and providing assistance with bursary applications to high schools and universities. Being cognisant that academic success is closely linked to emotional well-being, the school offers comprehensive support services through their social worker, and supportive teacher network, with past learner, Tshwarelo Chiloane, likening the teachers’ support to that of a parent.
Future expansion and growth
Having witnessed the positive impact it has had on its learners, the Nokuphila School is committed to expanding its reach and influence, beyond that of their weekend programme for struggling high school learners. This year, they formalised their Saturday school, ensuring they have sufficient food, transportation, and teachers in place to help grade 8 and 9 learners.
Formally starting to teach its first Grade 8 class next year, the Nokuphila School plans to add a new grade level each year until it offers education from Grades 000 to Grade 12. This ambitious growth strategy demonstrates the school’s dedication to providing quality education and support to a larger number of learners in the community. By expanding its offering, the Nokuphila School aims to uplift the community by empowering future generations.
The Nokuphila School stands as a shining example of how dedicated educators and a supportive learning environment can transform lives.
A shining success story from the Nokuphila School is current Grade 12 learner, Sangwadi Tessa Ngobeni. She is a top academic achiever who joined the school in 2015, and at that stage was unable to even speak or write English well.
Past Nokuphila students attending Saturday school.
Through the constant encouragement she received at the school, she has gone on to achieve exceptional results, such as being selected as one of the learners in the Gauteng Top 40 Top Achievers in 2021, and also selected to be part of a Talent Development Programme, run by Ernst and Young. Ngobeni says that she is strong in her faith and attributes her success to both the teaching of the Bible she received at the Nokuphila School, stating that the teachers are inspirational examples of faith. Ngobeni says that, “In everything you do, be hungry to do more, and better than how you did it before. Be hungry to be the best version of you.”
Another past learner making a name for herself is Tshwarelo Chiloane, who is a netball superstar, a high achiever in the sports arena. Chiloane has been selected for the JNA U/19 Squad (Joburg Netball Association), and has a massive passion for this sport, saying that her coaches at Nokuphila always made her feel like a superstar. Her goal is to pursue further education and become a netball coach in the future.
Tshwarelo says that her advice for others coming from previously disadvantaged backgrounds is simply to know yourself and not be afraid to reach out towards your goals. She says, “Simply put, hard work pays.”
Building a legacy of success, for lasting change
By offering continued support, mentorship, and psychosocial services to its learners, the school sets them on a path towards a brighter future. With its plans for expansion, the Nokuphila School is poised to make an even greater impact on the community, providing education and opportunities to uplift generations to come.
By creating a nurturing environment where learners can develop resilience, and thrive academically and emotionally, the Nokuphila School fosters a supportive community that values the holistic development of its students.
Through its unwavering commitment, the Nokuphila School continues to prove through its past learners that education has the power to break the cycle of poverty and create a more equitable society.