Classroom Buddies, Help When You Need it Most

Classroom Buddies

When you need help, at best you can ask. However, sometimes help comes to you when you least expected it. In a time when everyone can use a helping hand; at Vector College we were fortunate to have Mr Christian Kayembe. He is a Master’s Student in Public Management and Governance approach us to help when our students needed it most.

We know that teachers and learners are under a lot of pressure to achieve good grades for them to get into university or college. We also know that while some students are bright and gifted, very often in the South African or African context, learners from disadvantaged backgrounds struggle with finding the resources they need to choose a career path. Choosing the right career path required them to select the right subjects aligned to the chosen career path. A little help from people who have been through high school can help one navigate the path better.

Who are they and what do they do

Classroom Buddies is a registered non-profit organisation. They are a service organisation for learners that recognises basic quality school education as a human right. For African high school learners in South Africa this may not be a right they get to enjoy. The organisation is made up of young people who are passionate about community engagement and changing the lives of their fellow peers.

The people who volunteer their knowledge and skills through Classroom Buddies are committed to innovation that addresses the challenges experienced by Grade 9 to 12 learners from disadvantaged areas. The organisation is founded and led by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) students, under the stewardship of Mr Christian Kayembe (a Master’s Student in Public Management and Governance).

Classroom Buddies at work

The key to the Classroom Buddies program is in seeing the success and satisfaction of all their key stakeholders. They actively stay in touch with the educational needs. Working with Grade 9 to 12 African learners through continual informal and formal research; they look for the most effective ways to address them by involving learners, teachers, parents, government and business in arriving at a solution.

Their focus is on STEM subjects that prepare learners for the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and offer support to Life Orientation teachers in schools by providing career guidance and subject choice advice to grade 9 to 12 learners.

Classroom Buddies provides career advice and information on higher education bursary and scholarship information to Grade 9 to 12 learners. They source and distribute application forms and prospectuses of higher education and training institutions. These are to assist Grade 9 to 12 learners who struggle with online applications. They also provide tutorials in Maths, Physical sciences, Life sciences, Accounting and Geography. Add to that, they raise funds for study materials or any venture that helps high school learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. Furthermore, they do career exhibitions, Maths and Science workshops, and Women workshops.

Classroom Buddy tutor helping students with their work

Purpose in their actions

The Classroom Buddies program aims to prepare the learners for higher education and training education. They also want to help learners navigate the 4IR environment. Youth unemployment is at crisis levels in many African countries. The reality is that in South Africa, school leaving youth are not equipped with the necessary skills for employment. Which often mean they are not ready for opportunities offered by a modern economy. There is also a mismatch of skills among the youth. Especially, in the sense that not enough people are acquiring education in fields that are in demand.

Classroom buddies engage with students on their work.

Therefore, some students get a tertiary qualification but cannot be immediately employed. This is in part because the fields they obtained qualifications are either not in demand or there are few vacancies.

There is still a very small pool of matriculants who have the necessary grades and subjects to access programmes such as engineering, medicine, actuary and accounting, which the country lacks. Classroom Buddies aim to play a role in the improvement of the education system. Their objective is to reduce dropout rates among African learners before grade 12. This way they can channel more students into university and college education. Mr Christian Kayembe says, their passion is the creation of public value by supporting educators and learners. Their role is also to motivate them to make the correct subject choices; to assist and tutoring young minds and preparing them for the tertiary environment after matric (Grade 12).

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