Located in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, which is South Africa’s poorest province, Port Elizabeth (PE) is the country’s fifth largest city. It has a population of 312,000 people, a great majority of which lives in poverty. While the unemployment rate in PE is 36.6%, that rate more than doubles in the city’s townships, which are home to an overwhelming majority of its black residents.
While the government has worked hard to fulfill a promise to build a home for all families in need, the delivery of services has been slow. Further, the government-provided homes are substandard and barely large enough for the families they house.
The Eastern Cape of South Africa has a high school graduation rate of 61%. While this rate is not considerably lower than the passing rate in New York City, it does not take into account the high level of drop out rates in grades ten and eleven. It also fails to factor in all students who leave school for a host of reasons (including lack of funds for uniforms, stationery, and school fees.) The Eastern Cape’s senior class of 2013 lost nearly half its class since the students were in second grade.
The Eastern Cape also has the highest rate of food-insecure families, with 36.2% of its residents battling hunger daily.
While ArtWorks for Youth believes that arts education can assist students with the stressors that come with poverty and poor education, we felt it necessary to expand our programming to offer support via tangible means, including feeding, minor medical assistance, advocacy at home and within their schools, academic support that includes instruction in reading and writing, math, literacy, and homework help.
ArtWorks for Youth is now able to offer some relief from the many issues being faced by its students.