THE LEAP PROJECT
LEAP aims to address the educational deficit in South Africa’s under-resourced communities. To achieve this we have developed a community intervention model. We draw our high school learners from the communities in which the schools operate and invest back into these communities through education, job creation and social upliftment activities. Our educational intervention model has three main components:
- Academic: LEAP Schools have smaller classes to encourage accountability and help build relationships. LEAP has an extended 9-hour school day, necessary to remedy primary school education deficits. Extra academic support is given during Saturday classes and holiday programmes. All LEAP schools place heavy emphasis on English, mathematics and science. This combination of high-need subjects increases the choices learners have when accessing tertiary education.
- Emotional: Emotional skills are as important for career success as good academic results. LEAP’s life orientation (LO) is a unique values-based personal development programme. It focuses empowering young people to become role models, leaders and agents of change in their communities. The LO programme increases students’ self-awareness as well as their capacity to reflect on their actions and make healthy life choices. It encourages the growth of personal resilience, integrity, open communication and confidence in any context.
- Community: LEAP acts as an incubator for a number of community development programmes. In addition LEAP learners are not required to pay school fees. Instead they contribute R480.00 per year to a LEAP community development fund used for social upliftment projects in the school communities. All learners and staff are required to work regularly with these projects. In this way, learners become more conscious of social justice issues the importance of giving back.
BACKGROUND & IMPACT:
The first LEAP Science and Maths no-fee school was started by experienced school teacher and principal, John Gilmour, in January 2004. It was housed in rented premises in Mowbray, Cape Town. Seven qualified teachers and one administrator were employed and 72 high school learners were bussed in daily from the township of Langa.
Additional LEAP schools serving the communities of Gugulethu/Crossroads (Cape Town), Alexandra and Diepsloot (Johannesburg) were started in 2007, 2008 and 2011 respectively. Two more schools in Ga-Rankuwa (north of Pretoria) and Jane Furse (Limpopo) began in 2012, bringing the number of LEAP high schools nationally to six. The LEAP organisation now employs 200 teachers and staff, and serves 974 learners in total. It has an operating budget of over R50 million per year.
A Future Leaders Programme was started in 2007. This aims to recruit 10% of LEAP learners from each matric class to train as teachers and supports them during their distance learning degrees with finance, mentorship and classroom experience.
LEAP is a registered NPO and operations are overseen by an independent Board. Provincial education departments provide small subsidies to some LEAP schools but the majority of the operating costs are supported by committed funding partners.
In 2015 three LEAP schools achieved 100% pass rates. Three others obtained 97%, 94% and 78% pass rates.
- 92% of 2015 matriculants wrote pure maths and 71% wrote physical science. Eight science distinctions were obtained.
- The mathematics average across all schools was above 50%, 12 distinctions were achieved and one student scored 97%.
- Two students achieved distinctions in all seven subjects
- There were thirteen history distinctions in Cape Town.
- 62% of LEAP learners achieved bachelor passes (compared to 28.3% nationally average).
- 87% of our learners passed with qualifications they need to access tertiary studies. 9.8% of learners obtained Higher Certificate passes (allowing them the option to pursue technical or vocational training at TVET centres).
- 3.9% of our learners failed compared to the 29% failure rate nationally. This represents an improvement on past years and most qualified to write supplementary exams.
LEAP Science and Maths Schools
Provide free education to students from high-need communities, and have mathematics, physical science and English as mandatory subjects. Our school day is extended (9 hours), and we have Saturday classes and formal holiday programmes. Every LEAP school is partnered with a more privileged school as well as township schools in the community the school serves. This three-way collaboration creates the opportunity to share excellence in all spheres.
All LEAP schools:
•Provide free education to students with potential from high-need communities
•Require that all students study mathematics, physical science and English
•Have an extended school day (9 hours), Saturday classes and formal holiday programmes
•Actively engage with students to develop self-awareness and confidence
•Engage students in community work and activities that affirm cultural identity
•Have smaller classes and schools to support accountability and help build relationships
•LEAP’s holistic approach includes engaging with the broader community and developing partnerships and collaboration that add shared value. Every LEAP school is partnered with a more privileged school as well as township schools in the community the school serves. This three-way collaboration makes for stronger, better-equipped schools and the opportunity to share excellence in all spheres.
The LEAP Future Leaders Programme
Works to make teaching aspirational and accessible for young graduates. We aim for 10% of each LEAP graduating class to study education at tertiary level. Future Leaders can study to become educators at a tertiary institution or by participating in LEAP’s own Leaders in Education internship.
The LEAP Learning Centre
Provides quality tutoring to learners in LEAP Science and Maths School’s partner communities in Cape Town. The learning centre is staffed by a diverse group of tutors drawn from qualified African refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Botswana and Zimbabwe, South African professionals and volunteers.
Is one of our important pillars. All students and staff work with a social development organisation in one of our partner communities. There are eight scheduled student visits during the year. Activities vary from games, story-telling, painting and singing with young children, to performances, singing, talking and listening to the tales and wisdom of the older seniors. LEAP staff also work with a selection of community organisations by providing mentoring and support in management and operations.
The LEAP Movement
Promotes sharing of lessons, good practice and advocacy. Aimed at bringing together education stakeholders, the movement to promote equal access to quality education in South Africa.