South Africa remains a dual economy with one of the highest rates of inequality in the world. These are perpetuated by a legacy of exclusion and the nature of economic growth, which is not pro-poor and does not generate enough employment. In 2015, the richest 10% of the population held about 71% of net wealth, while the poorest 60% held 7% of net wealth. Unemployment is also a major challenge, standing at over 27% in 2019. In addition, more than one in two young people are out of work in the country.
With 7,700,000 people infected in 2018, South Africa is the country with the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world. The disease is also responsible for thousands of orphans and vulnerable children.
The majority of black children – nearly 60% – live in situations of extreme poverty, characterized by malnutrition, crime, violence, and alcohol and drug abuse. In many cases, when a child faces these problems, schooling is interrupted, or school performances tend to deteriorate. As a result, many leave the education system and find themselves exposed to all kinds of abuse.
Although South Africa has recently invested in education, students’ performance levels are lower than in many countries and the quality of education remains low. Many children are struggling in school, do not attend regularly, face teacher absenteeism, and recurrent problems of violence in schools.
FXB Phumelela – Réussir aims to reduce the level of vulnerability of families living in extreme poverty in the township of Machenzieville (Nigel) by strengthening the economic and social capacities of unemployed women and youth and by promoting the continuation of secondary education for children.
For the first target group, it is about taking 30 unemployed women and youth towards self-entrepreneurship through training and psychosocial support adapted to their difficult environment.
Throughout the process, they will integrate the principles of self-development, meet entrepreneurs and acquire digital skills, financial literacy, and project management, including the selection, planning and management of income-generating activities (IGA). At the end of their training, they will receive assistance in starting an IGA and will be accompanied in its development.
The second target group is composed of 260 children, aged 12 to 14. This age group is the most neglected. Indeed, most community development initiatives focus on early childhood development, while others offer their services to older students, leaving the last year of elementary school group apart without help and support. They face many dangers related to drugs, suicide, abuse of all kinds, and early school dropout – which effectively undermines the prospects for a decent future.
As the goal of this project is to keep these children in secondary school, psychosocial support and life skills development are essential components of the project. The aim is to strengthen the children’s ability to deal with the problems, taboos, and issues commonly encountered in their daily lives and to improve their social inclusion. The children also receive a meal at lunchtime – often the only one of the day – as well as the required school materials.
Digital education is the main focus for learning and reinforcing academic skills. Duly trained and supervised by the FXB team, the children have access to digital tablets on which public and private school programs are downloaded. The platform analyzes and assesses each learner’s strengths and weaknesses before recommending the subjects they need to strengthen. They will also use the FXB Workbook that was developed during the first wave of COVID to keep children in FXB programs in South Africa connected to their schooling. This workbook was distributed to each family and proved to be particularly successful. In addition to educational activities related to their classes, it also contains games to stimulate their minds and activities to help them deal with emotional issues.