Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Prevent school drop-out | 4 April, 2014 - 10:27← BACK
Between 2005 and 2010, 58% of South African tertiary students left school without graduating. South African Education and Environment Project’s (SAEP) Tertiary Support Programme helps tertiary students from disadvantaged backgrounds to successfully complete their degrees and to thrive academically, socially and emotionally in higher education institutions.
BROADENING OUR REACH: NEW BENEFICIARIES
In the first half of 2013, the programme supported 45 students, all alumni of SAEP’s post-matric bridging year programme. In mid-July, it extended its services to another 18 students who had graduated from SAEP’s high school tutoring programme. The programme is now supporting 63 students, and could be supporting 85 to 95 students or more in 2014.
This raises the urgent question of how to scale-up the operations in an appropriate and effective manner? In the context of limited resources and increasing numbers of beneficiaries, how can SAEP target its resources where they are most needed?
TARGETING OUR RESOURCES: SHIFTS IN IMPLEMENTATION
In early 2013, in the face of financial constraints, the SEAP’s Tertiary Support Programme reduced financial and material support to students. Instead, we aimed to lean more heavily on existing support structures and resources provided by other organisations, such as tuition funding made available through NSFAS loans, or on-campus student support services provided for free to all students. Specifically, we:
IMPACT OF THESE NEW STRATEGIES
While we believe these shifts by and large show positive results, and moreover foster self-reliance and independence as they require students to learn to navigate university systems, they also highlight systemic blockages and policy issues that act as barriers to even the most entrepreneurial students. These include:
WHAT’S NEXT? EXTERNAL EVALUATION
Over the next few months, two UCT research students will be conducting an external evaluation of the programme, focusing on the question: “In the context of limited resources and increasing numbers of students, how can SAEP best target its resources to support tertiary students to succeed?” They will be mapping different types of support provided between January 2011 and July 2013 against student performance and emotional well-being, as measured by student reports, surveys, social work case studies, and feedback from programme staff and mentors. This will help us understand where we can support students through continuing to build networks and referral systems, and where our support is most needed to fill the gaps in the existing landscape of higher education. We look forward to sharing the results with other organisations working to combat high dropout rates and help tertiary students succeed.
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SEAP discusses how it continues to support 45 tertiary students, despite facing increasing financial and resource constraints. This has involved trimming direct financial aid to students and leaning more heavily on existing support structures and resources provided by other organisations. This learning brief points out the benefits and limits of these approaches.