In January 2016, the Australian Government, through the Direct Aid Program, partnered with Sepheo on an 18-month project to create 30 new places at Sepheo School. This month, the project concludes with a great story to tell: the Sepheo team exceeded the target and made room for 35 more students to attend school.
With the help of the Australian Government, a total of 55 extremely vulnerable children have been given a second chance at an education, enabling them to catch up on years of missed learning on account of poverty, abuse, neglect and trauma. Most of these students are former street children that Sepheo has reintegrated back into families.
The Australian High Commission in South Africa awarded Sepheo $A56,000 over the course of 18 months to purchase the following:
- Teacher training and curriculum development. This component of the project helped us create assessment processes that matched the mainstream primary curriculum in Lesotho. Our teaching staff were also trained in creative methods of educating traumatised children and in how to manage different ability levels in the same classroom.
- School furniture. We were able to purchase 30 additional student desks and chairs, along with teacher furniture, to accommodate the new students.
- Classroom technology. We purchased 18 new iPads, a server and networking equipment to allow for high-technology, self-paced classrooms. We have subscribed to the best phonics, reading and maths programs to allow children to catch up at their own pace and to allow teachers to monitor students' progress. Over the course of the project, our students spent 1,200 hours reading and, in the last 5 months alone, answered over 60,000 maths questions.
- School uniforms. Each student was given a school uniform and sports uniform.
- Sports equipment. Physical training and character development is an important part of Sepheo School. Sports equipment was purchased to allow more children to play and train every week.
- Student starter packs. A pack of basic stationery was purchased for every student.
- A security fence. With greater student numbers, Sepheo outgrew our premises. In order to occupy our donated site and accommodate the growth, a security fence was purchased.
The Australian Government donation had a significant impact on the lives of these children, and a multiplier effect on their families and the community they come from. We are thankful for this partnership, and anticipate even greater impact in the future.