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#LightsOnAfterSchool returns with a BANG!

For the second year running in South Africa, the #LightsOnAfterschool campaign was bigger and, dare we say, better! This is all thanks to the hundreds of After School advocates, donors, community leaders, and practitioners who campaigned (online and physically) to bring awareness to the importance of After School Programmes (ASPs) for learners and youth. With co-ordinating efforts driven by The Learning Trust in partnership with the Youth and After School Programme Office in the Western Cape and the Community Chest, the campaign drew the attention of nearly 1,200 digital participants in South Africa alone. Internationally, the campaign was supported by thousands more using the #LightsOnAfterschool hashtag leading up to 28 October.

This year’s theme, #HelpKidsRecover, placed the spotlight on all the ways ASPs have been actively working to meet the academic and psycho-social needs of learners, during a time when the pandemic has exacerbated education’s inequality crisis and widened the learning divide. Throughout this time, ASPs were able to leverage their strong relationships with learners and parents in order to provide at-home learning resources and tutelage via WhatsApp, ensuring no learner was left behind.

To celebrate these tremendous efforts in this October’s Lights On campaign, ASPs and their supporters went all out to engage in fun and colourful activities with their learners. Some of these included colouring-in Lights On branding and bulbs, musical community walks, hiking for Lights On, decorating classrooms and community centres with Lights On branding, aerial light bulb photography, and even hosting sporting competitions! It was inspiring to see the collection of these efforts posted all over various social media platforms using the campaign hashtags.

Beyond this, we were honoured to have the campaign supported by influential Ambassadors and Champions from local celebrities who’ve had first-hand experience in ASPs that determined the course of their life-long careers. Lights On also caught the attention of the media, with radio stations interviewing ASPs that are making a difference in their communities, and print publications acknowledging the ways ASPs have helped kids recover from COVID-induced learning losses.

We encourage you to continue using the Lights On hashtags whenever you share photos from your programmes so we can keep the spotlight on the amazing work that you do in your communities. Next year’s Lights On celebrations will be on Thursday, the 20th of October. We can’t wait for you to join us again!


The Data Collective’s Call to Action

Our Data Collective (DC), which was successfully piloted in 2019 with our Gauteng grantees, was extended to the Eastern and Western Cape provinces with support from the Marr-Munning Trust. It was setup as a learning platform for After School Programmes (ASPs), with technical support for collecting, consolidating, and analysing data at an organisational level. Through collective outcomes-tracking (i.e. ASPs collecting the same data points and measuring common indicators) we can then begin to report on sector-wide impact, improve programme design, and ultimately drive further investment into after-school.

This past quarter, the DC partners interrogated the assumptions of causality behind the factors that influence programme outcomes. We were reminded, by our newly recruited Data Analyst, of the saying “correlation does not equal causation" – just because two things are correlated does not mean that one thing causes the other. The complex relationship between cause and effect requires the consideration of multiple factors in building a credible case for causality. The more data we have as a sector, the closer a correlation we can draw between after-school and quality learning outcomes. 

In support of this collective undertaking, we encourage all interested ASPs to submit their basic learner/tutor attendance data by end of November, to help us develop standardised assessment tools for the sector. For more information or to participate in this project, please reach out to Zoe Mann at


Directors share their skills and expertise

Following a COVID-induced hiatus, the Directors’ Circle returned this past quarter, with the goal of supporting personal, organisational and sectoral development through practical knowledge-sharing. The virtual session created an opportunity for cross-provincial networking amongst leaders of current grantee and alumni organisations. 

Organisational leaders highlighted a range of pressing challenges they faced, and delved deeper into the recruitment, motivation, and retention of volunteers and underpaid/unpaid staff. With over 30 leaders attending the session, these challenges were unpacked and tackled through the knowledge, skills and expertise of those who shared their working practice.

A valuable take-away from the session was the opportunity for ASPs to partner with organisations that place youth volunteers, such as,

Afrika Tikkun

Gold Youth


Independent Development Trust



Going forward, Directors’ Circles will convene provincially as we identify district clusters that could aide connection and collaboration.


Education funders deliberate After School catch-up 

IPASA (Independent Philanthropy Association of South Africa) hosted its third Education Funders workshop of the year under the theme “After School Programmes and their role in addressing learning losses.” Four TLT collaborators (the Youth and After School Programme Office, OLICO Maths, IkamvaYouth, and the Maitri Trust) presented varying ways in which after-school is primed for deep collaboration and impact to address the learning losses that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The panel engagements and group discussions affirmed the critical need for integrated MEL systems that can accurately measure the impact of after-school on filling learning gaps. Funders formulated a more comprehensive understanding of catch-up and began to identify collaborative funding models that could resource this work. As quality programmes build their evidence of impact, it becomes easier to scale them and enhance cost-efficiency. It is hoped that with this knowledge, we can attract more interest and collaborative investment into the space.


It’s not just a basketball tournament – it’s an uprising!

A recent member of the TLT family, the Soweto Basketball Academy (SBA) delivers a mixture of recreational and life skills development activities. Their grounds are situated in the same neighbourhood where the Soweto Uprising of June 1976 was borne. In honour of this historic moment,  SBA has held an annual three-day tournament since 2019. 

For the Academy, this event is an opportunity to promote their after-school and share the joy of basketball with more young people in the area. This year, the tournament brought together participating teams of under 18 boys and girls from different areas of Gauteng and other provinces. SBA’s learners were this year’s tournament champions.


“This is more than an ordinary basketball event; it’s a festival. We celebrate basketball through an Arts Exhibition by our [photographer] and other artists involved in sport. Visitors and participants get the opportunity to explore the township and learn more about the historic Soweto Uprising.” – Monwabisi Dlamini, Executive Director of Soweto Basketball Academy.

When partnership leads to a merger

TLT grantee, The Healing Heart Foundation has recently merged with alumni, The Sozo Foundation, to strengthen and extend their life skills training and girls empowerment programme. As a result of their collaborative COVID-19 emergency response, thousands of families saw significant food relief. Due to what has been dubbed a tumultuous time, the partners were forced to pause and reflect on their respective journeys, and carve out a joint future that ensures both their survival. Thanks to their well-established relationship, the idea of merging their programmes seemed like a natural move to fulfil their common vision of empowering young people.

The merger has made it possible to reach more schools and learners, while running a more efficient and cost-effective entity. There is a lot of excitement for future prospects and the involvement of new and old partnerships. This year, Sozo celebrates 10 years since inception, with TLT having been their first official donor nearly eight years ago.

“There has been a beautiful relationship between us and The Healing Heart Foundation – which goes back many years. The Learning Trust has always been connected to these two organisations and its people because at the end of the day, our work is all about building and sustaining meaningful relationships”. – Anton Cuyler, CEO of The Sozo Foundation.

Technology takes Inkululeko international!

The challenges brought on by the pandemic have created an opportunity for After School organisations to bridge the digital divide and ensure learning continues in under-resourced communities. This year, the Makhanda-based, Inkululeko, partnered with local service provider, Khula Tech Solutions, to install wireless internet for staff and learners in their after-school facilities at Ntsika and Nathaniel Nyaluza Senior Secondary Schools. Their expansion to Nathaniel Nyaluza aims to increase learner enrolment numbers whilst continuing to create educational environments that are tech-enabled and conducive for learning.


During last year’s hard lockdown, Inkululeko provided data for their learners to access a unique programme that leveraged talent from tutors in the United States. As a means of strengthening learning outcomes, their collaboration with international universities is looking to adopt a hybrid model of learning on a continued basis.  TLT is inspired by the innovative work of partners in Makhanda who continue to champion educational technology under very difficult circumstances. We are exploring a collaboration with several youth organisations in the area who will drive advocacy efforts around the adoption of technology as a learning aid for low income learners.




Alumni Networking Event

Stay safe and stay connected,

The Learning Trust Team