Bright Start broadens programme to include highschoolers

The bright smiles of Nqobile Qondami, Abigail Pato and Praise Kanyama.

Three more pupils have been selected to join Hout Bay NPO Bright Start’s education programme for next year.

The programme is offered to children as young as three years and this is the first year the organisation has accommodated high school pupils.

The organisation has partnerships with various schools around the peninsula for the programme which sees underprivileged children getting the opportunity to complete their schooling careers at a few of the best schools in the city.

These schools include Kronendal Primary School, the German School and Hout Bay International Schools. Children will also get mentoring, tutoring, aftercare and take part in extramural activities.

Bright Start has also partnered with Norman Henshilwood High School and Camps Bay High and from next year, Wynberg Boys’, Ambleside Primary, Llandudno Primary and Olyfkrans College in Swellendam will also join the programme.

They have plans to get more schools involved in the programme. The application process usually takes place from April until May, however, due to a lack of funding, the NGO did not have one last year. At present they have selected three children to join the programme from 250 applications. “It’s heartbreaking because these children have an enormous need” said Suzan Eriksson, Bright Start’s fundraising co-coordinator.

“Access to education is the main concern and a priority of ours,” said Ms Eriksson.

Bright Start is aimed at providing a better future for children, youth and parents in the historically disadvantaged communities of Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu. The organisation was established in 2008 by Sally Whitford and Sharon Scudamore. The NGO aims to provide opportunities and socially integrate these children through education. The organisation started out with seven children and has grown to 33 children.

When selecting the children into the programme assessments of the pupils and their parents are conducted, in which speaking to their employers and home visits are required. There should be at least one parent employed so that they can make a monthly contribution to the programme.

“We look at if they are in a small economic bracket where they could struggle to provide a monthly contribution. We are also aware that economic situations can change,” said Ms Eriksson.

Applicants are determined based on how involved the parents are in their children’s lives and their community. Parents are also required to attend various workshops to help in developing their parenting skills and if these parents will be a good role model for Bright Start.

“It’s very important for the parents to be involved as we expect 100% dedication to their children’s education. The parents have to sign a contract with us when their children enrol in the programme. There are certain guidelines and expectations we require from parents such as volunteering,” said Ms Eriksson.

There are two rounds for the interview process. The first is to interview the families and then select eight candidates for the second round of interviews. The child and their family are interviewed in a home visit. Three or four candidates are then chosen based on their fulfillment of the requirements needed to join the programme.

It’s a difficult and strict process as there is a limited space for pupils. There is a panel of three or four who decides which children are chosen for the programme. If the children are not selected for the programme, they are not forgotten as Bright Start refers them to another bursary programme or parents can attend some of the workshops offered by Bright Start, said Ms Eriksson.

For details about Bright Start, you can contact Bright Start 021 790 0458 or email Debbie Marais at Deborah@brightstart.org.za or Suzan Eriksson at funding@bright start.org.za You can also visit their website www.brightstart.org.za or find out about their workshops on their Facebook page, Bright Start Education Support Programme.