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In earlier blogs, we spent some time thinking about and defining what learning means at the American International School of Cape Town (AISCT)

This is how we define learning: Learning is the lifelong, dynamic process of acquiring and reflecting on knowledge and skills to make meaning in novel and authentic situations.

Often we default to thinking that most learning takes place in the classroom. However, we know that through service students learn so much more about the world with authentic experiences. AISCT’s Service Learning Program provides students the opportunities and confidence to positively impact the world through genuine engagement in collaborative and meaningful action. 

Service Learning at AISCT

We ask each student, grade level, or class to design and engage in a service project. They choose a community partner and decide on the scope of their project.

In general, service projects fall into three categories: service to people, to animals, or to the environment. For example, in Grade 2, AISCT students worked with ARKYS Outreach by adopting the Tokai Chacma Home Range. They learned about the environment all year and committed themselves to protecting the biodiversity of our area. They decided to focus on how they could protect the environment of the chacma baboon Tokai troop by addressing the issue of litter.

Elementary students are teaming up with the Tembo Mentorship Programme (one of the ARKYS projects) to create a wildlife-proof bin. This encourages children to actively throw away trash. Students worked on this project every Friday. Read more about AISCT’s participation on the ARKYS website.

The Grade 6 students partnered with the Peninsula School Feeding Association (PSFA) which works to ensure children have enough food. AISCT students participated in Blisters for Bread, a fundraising walk/run. They also helped prepare lunches for the children participating in the PSFA school feeding scheme. 

Middle school students have also worked with the ASPCA to support animal needs and high school students have worked in tutoring projects in local schools.

Impact Projects

Students in grades 11 and 12 work on their Impact Projects. This is designed to allow 11th and 12th graders to demonstrate the skills they have developed in their educational journey to date. Students design a project around the question, “How will you impact your world?” 

They may work individually or in groups beginning in Grade 9, and the final presentation in their senior year is a graduation requirement. The projects are growing in depth and sustainability as students want to ensure that their work continues from year to year. Projects include the Football Initiative, which is in its third year supporting students in a local school; Miracle Kidz, where two groups are working with this organization to tutor students as well as teach swimming; supporting a local village in Tanzania, as well as supporting feminine hygiene in townships. Students are encouraged to explore their interests and to think beyond themselves and how they can contribute to and impact the greater AISCT community. 

The Benefits of Service Learning

Service learning gives students the opportunity to use the skills they have gained to make a positive impact in the real world. When facilitated well, service-learning opportunities give students a new perspective and support in the fostering of empathy and global citizenship. 

For more information, read more about AISCT’s service learning partners here.