Nozibele Ndunge, Programme Lead
Learner Engagement Programme
HundrED shortlisted this innovation
Why did you create this innovation?
By final year, just 50% of learners in South Africa are enrolled at school. Only 30-40% of enrolled learners leave school having passed the national school exit exam, due to absenteeism and other disengagement factors. Drop-out is the result of a long process of disengagement and this innovation works to empower parents, learners and educators to work together to reduce dropout.
How does your innovation work in practice?
Stakeholders (teachers, caregivers, police etc.) refer learners displaying at-risk behavior (using empirically driven pre-defined risk factors) to Just Grace. This referral network acts as an early warning system to detect disengagement early on. For a referral, Just Grace’s team engages the relevant stakeholders in assessing the needs and creating a personalised development/intervention plan for the learner. This includes 2 home visits, 10 high impact 1-1 life skills sessions, 4 group life skills sessions and counselling (where required).
The intervention removes barriers to learning and empowers the learner with the necessary soft skills to become a lifelong engaged learner. The presence of a caring adult fosters hope, security and connection to facilitate change. The learners are then assessed to see if they can be reclassified to low/no risk. Community-wide campaigns and parent support groups are run to create a community response to dropout and increase ownership of the solution
How has it been spreading?
75% of learners were reclassified from high risk to low or no risk and began attending school regularly as a direct result of the intervention. Remaining cases are open.
Parents and teachers reported that they felt supported and encouraged
Social work outcome reports note behaviour shifts in parents and learners
Positive behaviour shifts were noted in the learners through self-reported surveys, social worker assessments and teacher input
Average rating on session rating scale for sessions was 8.4/10 by beneficiaries
Increase resources to expand the programme to other communities across South Africa and Africa to demonstrate scalability of model and increase impact.
Contribute towards a reduced national dropout rate as evidence of the ultimate impact
If I want to try it, what should I do?
Tailor push&pull factors affecting drop-out to your community, develop a referral process with key stakeholders.
Build data systems to track and measure learner engagement.
Establish a team of qualified professionals to deliver the interventions using the provided approach and effective M&E mechanisms to ensure programme outcomes are achieved in terms of the theory of change. Grant@justgrace.co.za