Khula Development Group was launched in 2003 and registered as a Non-Profit Organisation with the South-African Department of Social Development in 2004 as a community based organisation supporting out-of-school children in the Paarl East area. During 2007 management adjusted the mission of the organisation to the integration of children at risk of dropping out, back into the school system.
In South Africa, in every 12-year cycle, more than 600 000 children drop out of school. In poor communities the importance of regular school attendance and education, often falls by the way side due to many different social factors and manifestations of poverty on different levels. As a result, it is easy for children in poor communities to start a cycle of school absenteeism. There are many reasons for absenteeism, reasons such as:
- Parents have very little education
- Social circumstances are desperate
- Absent fathers
- Embarrassment about the lack of basic school necessities
- Substance and physical abuse
- Lagging behind academically and subsequent embarrassment from difference in age
- Peer pressure and bullying from classmates
The majority of these reasons can be addressed through intervention on a regular basis. Issues such as substance and physical abuse are more difficult to address, especially when the problem lies with the parent or primary caregiver.
To address some of these problems, Khula manages four programmes:
- Reintegration of children
- In-school support: Explorers (grades R to 4)
- In-school support: Champions (grades 5 to 7)
- Primary Caregivers support groups
The mission of Khula to integrate children at risk of dropping out, back into the school system is the back bone of the organisation. Through permanently employed fieldworkers, Khula builds a strong relationship with schools who were identified to have high absenteeism levels.
Fieldworkers are women and men who live in the community and who understand the need and the people in their community – they are the heart and face of the organisation. They are trained, supervised and continuously supported by a qualified Khula Social Worker.
A referral network is established at each school to enable the school to notify the Khula fieldworkers assigned to the school, of learner absenteeism. After the referral was received, the fieldworkers visit the child at home and engage with the primary caregiver to start the process of together trying to integrate the child back into the school. This is a delicate process of earning the respect and trust of the primary caregiver and motivating the child through love and care.
Once a child has been referred to Khula, the Khula team in consultation with the principal and teacher of the child will address the specific needs of a child within the ambit of the programmes managed by Khula or the case can be referred to partner organisations in the community, if other needs must be addressed. The in-school support programmes addresses academic needs up to foundational level and renders emotional support. Behavioural issues of learners in grades 5 to 7 are also addressed. Simultaneously, the primary caregivers of these children are motivated to join a Khula primary caregiver support group where they are stimulated creatively, supported spiritually and emotionally, and given parental guidance.
Khula Development Group believes that we can make a difference through love and education.