Rhodes>Community Engagement>Engaged Citizenry>Parent Engagement Programme

Supporting Rhodes Staff to Support their Children

Rhodes University is an institution of Higher Learning and should take a particular interest in the education development and advancement of the children of its employees. 

Few children of the support staff at Rhodes University gain access to and graduate from Rhodes University. This relates to the contextual problem that their children attend dysfunctional schools. Because Rhodes University is committed to revitalising public education in Makhanda, it is appropriate for it to place a particular emphasis on the children of its employees.

Other elements of the university’s intervention will target schools, but this element recognises that the home is a key site of education and study. Specifically, it asserts that the way in which parents manage their homes has a significant impact on the educational development of their children. Other things being equal, a home that is managed appropriately delivers good educational outcomes, whereas a home that is mismanaged produces poor educational outcomes. This understanding constitutes the rationale for the Rhodes University Parent Education Programme.

Once the university has established the effectiveness of the programme, it could well be developed into a ‘condition of employment’ and be utilised by the university to attract and retain a loyal workforce. It could constitute strong evidence that Rhodes is a progressive and caring employer. In other words, there are a range of potential benefits.

Through the Vice-Chancellor's initiative, the Community Engagement Division established the Vulindlela Program. The objective of the program is to work with Rhodes University staff ( Salary Grades 1-5) in order to improve their children's access to higher education.  Through literacy support in the early childhood space and tutoring and mentoring at the top end of schooling  (Grade 10 to 12), the children of Rhodes University staff are assisted in improving their literacy levels and their school performance to a level where they can achieve a bachelors pass in their matric exams thereby allowing them the opportunity to study at Rhodes University. In doing so, otherwise inaccessible and prohibitively expensive tertiary education may be opened for them.

This initiative offers an invaluable opportunity to pioneer strategies for bringing Rhodes staff and their families, Rhodes students and, community partners together to build a network of support to keep the children of Rhodes staff on the path to high school graduation, university or advanced training, and successful lives beyond.

  • Parents manage their homes for good educational results, in particular they promote literacy, personal planning and the adherence to study plans, they take an active interest in the educational progress of their children and they promote the usage of English in their homes.
  • 100% of Grade 12 whose parents participate in the programme pass, and at least 60% of these learners obtain a Bachelor Level pass, 50% of learners are accepted into Rhodes or another tertiary institution and 20% are accepted into GMS with a view to being able to qualify for Rhodes the following year.
  • Parents will co-manage the support programme for their children helping to organise where they can e.g. parent volunteers will make lunch (sandwiches) for the pupils on Saturday for tutorial sessions
  • 90% Parent attendance at the culmination career day and university application process
  • 50% of parents will become computer literate which enable the parents to help their children with assignments
Parent Support

The parental support revolved around a series of workshops during the course of the year. In term one we organise strategic meetings with the parents involved in this program so that we can discuss program goals. From past experiences, the parents have requested support in the form of computer literacy classes, understanding the importance of literacy, career guidance information, communications and conflict resolution training, accessing information to support pupils etc.  A minimum of four workshops a year are held for each group.  

Research shows that family engagement in education is directly related to a range of benefits for students, including improved school readiness, higher academic achievement, better social skills and behavior, and increased likelihood of high school graduation. In particular, students from low-income families, who often live in under-resourced areas, benefit when an array of integrated school and community supports are available to help families support their children’s learning and development from birth to young adulthood. Therefore, these workshops were implemented with the objective of helping the staff members support their children’s learning.


Learner Support

Senior Phase Intervention: To truly have an impact on high school success, family engagement efforts need to focus on student outcomes and become a core part of school and community efforts promoting graduation and college- and career-readiness. Successful parent engagement efforts also need to be multi-faceted – engaging students, families, and communities in an inclusive process; adapting to the social and cultural contexts of families; and leveraging community resources. With this in mind, RUCE offers Saturday classes for the Grade 11 and 12 learners as part of learner support, where the learners are tutored by Rhodes volunteers.  Parents involve themselves in various ways eg  preparing the lunch for the pupils.  Furthermore, the Grade 12 learners were mentored by student volunteers as part of the Nine Tenths mentoring program, while the program coordinator individually mentored the Grade 11 learners.  There will also be tutoring sessions in the week for pupils, these will be conducted by volunteer Rhodes Staff members which include accounting, maths, physical science, geography and life sciences.

An Autumn School will be organized for 5 days at Rhodes University for the Grade 10 - 12’s in holiday period where teaching, mentoring and self study will take place led by the Co ordinator.

Monitoring and Evaluation 
  • Participant parents submit their children’s results to RUCE for capture and analysis. The output of the analysis of the results of the learners is individualised analyses. The key analysis items are: level/ type of pass/ fail (i.e. Bachelor, Diploma, Higher Certificate, 2 Subject Fails, 3 or more subject fails); number of Rhodes University Admission points; areas of strength/ opportunity; areas of weakness/ threat. Feedback is provided to all parents to ensure that they understand the technicalities involved and the precise situation and prospects of their respective children. Furthermore, based on this analysis, the coordinator of the program identified learners who obtained a good Bachelor level pass in June of their Grade 12 year, and thereby secure admission to Rhodes by applying during the Application day as mentioned above.


For more information: Thandiswa Nqowana: t.nqowana@ru.ac.za

Last Modified: Thu, 08 Feb 2024 13:36:59 SAST