Use The Covid-19 Lockdown to Think Differently about Educating Orphaned and Vulnerable Children

Crowdfunding, delivery of food, hygiene and learning packs, and psychosocial support could #changethestory

Johannesburg, 30 March 2020 – Close on nine million of South Africa’s twelve-million school-age population are enduring the Covid-19 21-day lockdown with serious constraints on basic food, hygiene and learning supplies. For most families, educational support will be via radio and TV, and perhaps a smartphone or two in each house. In order to resolve some of these issues, the Tomorrow Trust has adapted the way orphaned and vulnerable learners can keep up their levels of learning over the next three weeks.

“We’ve launched the #changethestory campaign,” says James Donald, CEO for the Tomorrow Trust, a non-profit organisation that supports orphaned and vulnerable children, focusing on developing both academic and life-skills proficiencies. “It’s enabled us not only to buy and put together 400 food, hygiene and learning packs, and have them delivered to under-resourced households, but also to mentor and manage these children and their caregivers by providing the academic and psychosocial support they need.” Included with the packs are one-month WhatsApp data bundles that enable children and their caregivers to join WhatsApp groups, and guidance on how to access free online educational resources, like the Siyvula Maths and Science programme.

The Tomorrow Trust, founded in 2005, runs holistic education programmes throughout the year at various host-partner venues in Johannesburg and Cape Town, including a junior holiday school programme aimed at Grades R-7, a tertiary programme and an alumni programme. Each child is evaluated on a one-to-one basis, and a tailored programme developed which encompasses academic and psychosocial support, as well as meals, transport, stationery and course materials, mentorship, leadership training and self-mastery classes.

“Admittingly, Government is working hard to provide the financial and educational support these poorer vulnerable children need,” says Donald. “You don’t have to look very far to see how radio stations, on the SABC for instance, are gearing up to broadcast lessons, and DStv is broadening access to news and education channels. But what many of us don’t realise is that the very basic necessities, like food and hygiene items, are things that many of these households simply don’t have enough of, and skyrocketing unemployment just compounds the issue even further.”

For children in your care, the Tomorrow Trust has some valuable tips on how you can #changethestory of the lockdown.

• Follow their lead. Each day let the children decide one thing to do and do it with them. Your attention is your most powerful teaching tool. Donald says that the Trust’s experience has shown that when a caregiver, mentor or parent shows a genuine, ongoing interest in a child, that little girl or boy develops into a human capable of changing their household, family, community or a nation for the better.

• Share your phone. There are zero-rated educational websites from Vodacom, Telkom and MTN. Make it the children’s task to find out how they work and what they need.

• Use social media. Use #changethestory for every good you thing you see or do.

• Donate. Every small amount you give to those around you, and organisations like the Tomorrow Trust, will make a difference.

• Support each other. Keep talking on your groups and share ideas, links and encouragement.

“It’s pointless just throwing financial resources or academic tools at a child and expecting them to change – it requires a more holistic, bigger-picture approach,” Donald says. “If we act now, we can look back on how this crisis brought South Africans together to help all children thrive.”

The #changethestory campaign has received incredible support from individual donors, companies and the Department of Social Development but the Tomorrow Trust needs additional funds to broaden the reach of the campaign over this critical period.

By donating no less than R30, you can help one more child or caregiver stay connected to support during this lockdown. To find out how you can donate, WhatsApp 066-115-3891 or email .

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