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Schoolbags make a positive difference in the lives of grade one learners

A new study by Solidarity Helping Hand is looking into the impact a lack of stationery has on the academic career of grade one learners. The results highlight the value of this organisation’s Schoolbag Project.

Helping Hand’s Schoolbag Project has been one of this organisation’s major projects since 2007. Through this project, more than 30 000 schoolbags containing stationery have been distributed to help needy grade ones to start off on an equal footing.

The study, completed by teachers from the 158 schools all over the country that benefit from the Schoolbag Project, clearly shows that there is a link between poverty and poor academic performance.

One of the major stumbling blocks encountered by learners is the stress they experience if they do not have the correct stationery – or even no stationery at all. Teachers have indicated that these learners cannot focus in class and that their confidence also takes a huge knock. When a learner experiences stress, cannot focus and does not have the necessary confidence, it causes the learner to lag behind and in many instances to drop out academically.

Teachers say learners are aware of different economic levels as early as the Foundation Phase and that they are made fun of by fellow learners. The lack of stationery therefore has a negative effect on the social, emotional and cognitive development of the needy learner.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that many needy learners do not receive adequate support at home. These learners often also come from broken homes where they do not receive enough love.

The study also shows that if these learners drop out or lag behind in their school career, they find it extremely difficult to catch up. And in many cases it is these learners who do not attend school up to matric level but drop out somewhere along the way.

The very simple deed of giving bags to needy learners therefore has far-reaching consequences for the learners. They now have the necessary stationery and do not feel the stress and anxiety they would have experienced without it. And the learners feel special, which boosts their confidence.

The Schoolbag Project is now in its tenth year, and this year 4 600 schoolbags will be handed out to needy children across the country. You can support the project by clicking here.