‘Supporting Rhodes Support-Staff to Support their Children’

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 Grahamstown, it is appropriate for it to place a particular emphasis on the children of its employees. Rhodes is an institution of Higher Learning and therefore it is should take a particular interest in the education development and advancement of the children of its employees.

This element of the intervention 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 Engagement 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.

As far as short-term programme take-up is concerned, the management team will maintain a database of interested support staff with children of twenty years and younger. The names should be categorised according to the respective ages of the children. Five proposed categories are 0 – 5 years old (pre-school), 6 – 10 years old (foundation phase), 11 – 14 years (intermediate phase), Grades 8
and 9 (GET phase) and Grades 10 – 12 (FET phase). There should be one entry per child. For example, if an employee has three children, aged 4, 8 and 5, then he/ she should be entered three times. The purpose of the database is to create a baseline against which to measure employee participation and attendance in the programme. The most basic measure of success of the programme is staff take-up and attendance.

A final introductory remark is that the proposal builds on pilot work undertaken by Community Engagement with employees with children in primary school and high school. In 2015 RUCE piloted a very successful ‘Intsomi’ literacy project for 24 support staff, whilst relations of cooperation with Ikamva Youth were established several years ago to support staff with high school children. The
proposed work recognises and seeks to build upon these foundations.

The project recognises that children go through sequential phases in relation to educational development and academic challenges. Specifically, it suggests that there are five distinct stages, as follows: 0 – 5 year olds (ECD), 6 – 10 year olds (Foundation Phase), 7 – 13 year olds (Intermediate Phase), 14 and 15 year olds (GET Band), and 16 – 18 year olds (FET Band). Therefore, particular interventions have been designed for each of these stages; they are presented below in sequential order. There are some common types of activity that feature during all the stages; these are parent support (workshop series), learner support, and monitoring and evaluation. With regards to the latterit should be noted that this is an outcomes-driven intervention. The project is intended to empower and equip parents to manage their homes for particular educational outcomes. There are specific outcomes for each development stage. The culmination evaluation document to be produced annually will consider performance in this regard for each of the five stages, in relation to the targeted outcomes set below.

At the broadest level, the key output will be the successful delivery of a complex, five-phased project to a high level of professionalism. Specifically, this will entail the conducting of a series of approximately 20 parent workshops, the offering of a wide variety of learner support interventions across all age categories, and the maintenance of a detailed, rigorous monitoring and evaluation

Last Modified: Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:07:19 SAST