My experiences at Harvard as a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow and Fulbright Scholar profoundly shaped my thinking about education and social change, and continue to influence the way I approach the complex challenges facing South Africa’s education system.
In my final semester as a Reynolds Fellow, my wife and I launched Axium Education, a nonprofit organization aimed at improving the quality of schooling in rural South Africa. We are based in Zithulele Village in the beautiful Eastern Cape Province and work with around 30 schools in the surrounding area. The region’s educational outcomes are among the worst in the country. Only a handful of students graduate from high school with any chance of pursing higher education, so it’s a useful place to be if we hope to learn anything about wider scale improvements. We use a three-tiered approach to school change, working with school leaders, with science, English and math teachers, and with high-potential students in Grades 7 – 12. We’re also a pilot site for a number of technology projects, including the Khan Academy and MiXit.
In 2012 I was honoured to be included in the Mail & Guardian’s annual list of “200 Young South Africans.” I’m currently midway through a Ph.D. dissertation examining rural school improvement, and I’m hoping this will add to the growing national conversation around the equity and quality of South Africa’s schools.