God's plan for your life
Sr Prudence Cooper OP shares about her participation in the Math and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA) in Kimberly:
“In July 2023, I had a great joy and privilege to travel to Kimberley to join the “Maths, Science Leadership Academy” (MSLA), run by Ms Anne Maclean.
This Academy has been in operation since 2006 and is an academic support for learners in the Kimberley High Schools. Educational results in Matric are not the best in the country, and so the Academy provides additional educational support out of school hours. That means after school classes from 3pm – 6pm on school days, and on Saturdays and during holidays.
MSLA goes much further than this and provides Digital Literacy to a high international Standard
The main purpose is to raise the results of learners in Maths and Science, but MSLA goes much further than this and provides Digital Literacy to a high international Standard with the MOS Microsoft Office Specialist Certification programme, Global Citizenship, instilling in each member the aim of taking what you learn and giving to others.
Making a difference in the community is part of the vision of MSLA. This translates into the ‘Kids Teaching Kids’ programme, ‘Reading for Meaning’ and many other projects which the learners run helping younger learners to achieve more. Sometimes they teach their peers from their own High Schools, as they intend to do once end of year exams permit.
We started by looking at the Plan God has for their lives
I have joined their holiday programmes before, and this time the programme was Careers Guidance, which is not provided in the schools. My input gives a spiritual background to what they are learning. We explore reflection on God, and prayer in different ways.
We started by looking at the Plan God has for their lives, and helping each learner to realise that God is present in their education and the choices they may be taking towards their future.
As the classes are made up of all Christian Religious backgrounds and sometimes Muslim children, the aim is for all learners to know and experience God in their personal lives according to their own tradition.
We began every session by lighting a candle to symbolise God’s presence with us
We began every session by lighting a candle to symbolise God’s presence with us, and then guiding them in prayer to a contemplative experience of God as indwelling them. Amazingly they were very open to this kind of prayer, and all took part and entered into the prayer with great respect and willingness.
We used themes like Dreams, and God’s dream for their lives, using popular songs that they could join in. This created a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
We also explored the lives of young South Africans in the field of Medicine, Climate Change and Equal opportunities for those with disabilities, to show what ordinary kids from disadvantaged backgrounds could achieve if they so wished. People not unlike themselves!
Dreams really can come true
Dreams really can come true. But not without transformation and hard work, and sometimes even disappointments. Using the metaphor of the life-cycle of the butterfly they could begin to understand the commitment and effort that is required to make their dreams come true, even when times are dark and tough.
Each one received a gift of a butterfly to keep, in order to help the message remain with them.
These beginnings then went into a full session of how to research and choose a university for their future studies. Guidance was given on how to research Bursaries from the countless offers made by Industry as well as the Government Scheme. Matching their potential and their aspirations also was a vital ingredient. The students then spent time using the computers available to them to follow the guidance and begin their search.
One sudent reminded me of the stones that we gifted each child with
I have found that the input I give has a deep affect on the students. One of the Grade 12 students greeted me at the start of the week. She reminded me of the stones that we gifted each child with. A reminder of the precious gifts and talents that we each carry within us. She declared that she never goes anywhere without that stone and reminder of her potential. She then produced the stone to show me. Wow! How deeply that had impacted her.
Many – or most - of the children have a religious background, even if they are not all church-goers. This helps tremendously and so I find that I have big eyes following me wherever I move in the classroom, and they take this input very seriously.
Songs remember the lesson and take it into their hearts for their future
Any homework task I gave them to reflect on was also done with the same serious attitude. Often their homework was the starter for the next day. Behaviour in the class time is not a problem at all. hey hold a rapped attention on the topic being discussed.
The songs and visual powerpoints also lend to the enjoyment of the class and participation is 100%. These help the students to remember the lesson and take it into their hearts for their future.”
Sr Prudence Cooper OP