Jonny

Ashoka Fellow
South Africa,
Fellow Since 1993
Extra-Mural Education Project

Citation

This profile was prepared when Jonny Gevisser was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
Extra-curricular activities, traditionally the domain of sports and social interest clubs, comprise the only aspect of contemporary school life that is reasonably autonomous from the highly bureaucratized "school day," basically because it falls outside of it! While education policies, structures and curricula in the "new South Africa" are being debated and overhauled at the national level, change from above is painfully slow. Jonny believes that a grassroots reform process begun in the extra-curricular arena can be channeled directly into mainstream schooling in a way that dramatically accelerates overall school reform.

By engaging children's after-school hours in constructive educational and recreational activities, such as camping and survival skills training, conflict resolution training, arts and crafts and career counseling, Jonny's Extra-Mural Education Project offers an immediate supplement to the current inadequate system. He hopes that building the skills and self-esteem of students will reduce drop-out rates, help children develop a more positive attitude toward education and prepare students to face future challenges.

Jonny's vision extends beyond extra-mural education per se, as he uses extra-mural education to make schools into "hubs for learning" for the larger communities in which they are located. A lack of coherence in development planning in South Africa today causes education reform efforts to pour development money into the creation of separate target schools and separate initiatives for adult literacy and vocational education. Jonny noticed, however, that most South African schools, present in every neighborhood, are open for less than 25 percent of their usable time-from eight in the morning until two in the afternoon, five days per week excluding holidays (which last up to three months per year)-and serve only school students.

Jonny proposes to keep schools open during evenings, weekends and holidays to serve as community centers. His program implements services such as teacher-training, organizational development, adult literacy and career counseling classes, vocational training for youth who have dropped out of school and recreation activities. He envisions that these centers will function as "hubs" where parents, teachers, students and other community members will gather to relax, share ideas and engage in a process of lifelong education.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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