Volunteer with teaching in the struggling township communities of the beautiful coastal town of Knysna on South Africa’s famed Garden Route. From caring for foundation phase little ones in creches to helping in primary and high school classes with English, Physical Education, Music, Drama, Dance, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Technology and Computer skills, or reading groups in school libraries at various township schools. Classes are big and boisterous at times, but volunteers are greatly appreciated and welcomed by both teaching staff and the learners. Your new ideas and lesson plans are always welcome. This truly is a very rewarding experience and often volunteers have gone on to study teaching as they have been so affected by the time spent volunteering in the schools. Helping a child grasp a subject they are battling with, teaching a choir a new song, showing a teacher a new drama exercise or helping coach a new sport can make a long-term difference.

Starting daysStarting days are Monday to Friday in the South African school term (see below for dates)
Minimum Requirements2 weeks and longer subject to visa requirements. A minimum age of 17 years old and older.
Cost£1000 for 2 weeks and £350 for each additional week
What is includedFood, accommodation, meeting you at the airport, airport collection and drop-off, welcome braai (BBQ), Saturday tour, donation to the school, daily transport to the schools and back in the week, pre-departure support, in-country staff, t-shirt and 24- emergency help
What is not includedFlights, visas, travel insurance, spending money
Best forGappers, career breakers, families, post-retirement gappers, couples, teaching students, qualified teachers, sports students, drama teachers, music teachers, dance instructors

Project Description

We work within several schools in the townships of Knysna. Mainly primary schools although we also do work with a local high school too for more mature and experienced volunteers. All these schools are government schools which cater for the poorer communities and charge very low school fees and in some cases, nothing at all. Therefor amenities and facilities are very basic, and classes are big with teachers having to cope with larger numbers in the classrooms. In the past we have seen classes with learners of over 60 in a class although the average is around 45 learners per class.

English is taught from Grade 1 in South Africa, so we normally focus on the older classes from Grade 4 upwards although many volunteers prefer helping with the little ones. The learners mother tongue is often isiXhosa or Afrikaans, so the learners learn English as a second and sometimes third language. Volunteers really help a lot in this area as just by spending time with the learners they improve their conversational English making them more confidant with the language so we often as volunteers to try and do a few English classes too along with the other subjects they would like to assist with.

Volunteers give additional support to teachers and help wherever possible from lesson plans, taking lessons, marking papers and assessments, and coming up with fresh new ideas to keep the class stimulated. Help with social media, fundraisers, sports events, or talent shows is also hugely appreciated. For those not so confidants of their teaching abilities, there are work books to assist you with your lesson plans which are all based around the South African syllabus so you have guidelines to work from which is a huge help

There are a variety of areas volunteers can assist in.

  • Foundation phase classes of Grade RR, Grade R and Grade 1 either in creches or schools
  • Drama, dance, and music in Creative Arts classes. Please let us know how your talents can be utilised here.
  • Physical Education and Sports which often take place in Life Orientation classes
  • Teaching English- always a huge plus!
  • Mathematics
  • Small reading groups with the librarian in the library
  • Natural Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Technology and in some cases Computer skills depending on school

The school day starts at 07:45 am and ends the latest at 14:30. There are two small breaks in between for a snack or even just choir practise if music is your love.

If you already have a qualification, skill, or experience, we will be extra happy to be able to put it to good use on your placement.  If you are using this project for practical credits for your studies, please let us know so that we can liaise with your university lecturer. If you do not have any qualifications or previous experience, then do not worry! The whole idea of volunteering is to provide help and assistance wherever needed, immerse yourself in a different culture, and make a lot of memories- both for you and the learners!

Please look further down for our after-school activities for information on what can be done for the remainder of the day

School terms for 2024

TermStartEnds
1st17th of January20th of March
2nd3rd of April14th of June
3rd9th of July20th of September
4th15th of October1st of December

This project runs in the South African school terms only. We do suggest you try and book closer to the beginning of term and not the end as that is when assessments and exams take place. The last 3 weeks of the 4th term of the year are never a good time to volunteers as when the children have finished writing their final exams, the majority only attend school to pick up their reports and the numbers are very low in the classroom

If you are not able to volunteer in the dates of the school term and can only volunteer in the school holidays, we suggest that you get involved in our youth development placement holiday program or our safe house volunteer project helping to give the foster children safe, busy and occupied with fun activities in the holidays

After-school activities

There are a few activities that you can take part in after-school. You can either help at the children at the safe house with their homework, the after-school club with the youth development centre, assist with grassroots soccer coaching, visit the local elephant park, do some shopping, have lunch at the Waterfront on the lagoon edge, hike the Pledge nature reserve or just getting a well needed nap as the children can be exhausting as they have so much energy. Please note that after-school activities do not take place every afternoon.

Accommodation

The volunteer accommodation is shared and self-catering in the town of Knysna close to shopping malls, restaurants, take-aways, gyms, nightlife, entertainment areas and essential services. There is security and the area is safe to walk around. Bedrooms are either shared with another volunteer or single depending on volunteer numbers, a satellite TV, a shared bathroom with a shower, basin and toilet and a washing machine. There is a braai facility and kitchen for meals. There is also WIFI. Couples, friends, and families can be accommodated.

Food

You will also receive a food allowance for your basic food essentials for your breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will be taken for a grocery shop as part of your induction on your arrival. This means that you can choose the specific food if you have set dietary requirements. There is a kitchen for cooking

Location

You will need to fly into George Airport for your airport collection where you will be met by your Volunteer International Adventures representative and driven to your volunteer accommodation in Knysna.

Knysna is one of South Africa’s favourite towns based around the beautiful Knysna estuary with views of the iconic headlands. It is not known as the jewel of the Garden Route for nothing and is surrounded by magical forests, farmlands and a breath-taking coastline dotted with blue flag beaches which are great for swimming, barbecuing or just simply watching dolphins surfing in the waves. It is also home to the famous elusive Knysna elephant which are the most southern free roaming elephants in the world and there are still hot debates about the numbers with some saying there is only one left and others a small herd of about 4.

The area that Knysna is situated is the Garden Route of the province of the Western Cape and it is a dream for animal lovers and extreme sports enthusiasts as there are numerous private wildlife reserves, national parks, whale watching, predator sanctuaries, primate sanctuaries, elephant sanctuaries, wolf sanctuaries, skydiving, paragliding, sandboarding, numerous interesting markets and so much more so boredom is not an option.

Our projects take place mainly in the local townships in the poorer areas where we do our best to try and lighten the load for the teachers, schools and NPOs assisting in the area with hands on help and financial support

For more information or to book, either fill in the contact form or please email info@volunteerinternationaladventures.com. You might also be interested in our Teaching project in Zanzibar.

I took two school trips to Knysna as an opportunity for pupils to gain life experiences and learn about other cultures. The trips were a huge success and this was definitely down to the help of Sharon. Her involvement in the Knysna community is incredible. She genuinely cares about her community and as a result creates opportunities for those visiting to see the best of this beautiful part of the world.

Without a doubt, Sharon’s hard work and enthusiasm for her job made this trip what it was. As someone who was responsible for 23 pupils under 16 I felt extremely comfortable and confident with Sharon there. No stone is left unturned to give you an amazing chance to experience something special.

-Mark Hanson, United Kingdom

“Although I volunteered over 10 years ago, the experience of teaching in South Africa has remained with me ever since. I met some amazing people, made fantastic friends and created not only lasting memories for me but also for the kids that I taught. I went with the expectation that I would be teaching primary school kids English however I left with them teaching me so many new cultural skills and life altering views on the world. I fell in love with the school and the kids so much that I returned a year later and also again in 2015. Not only was teaching amazing but also the activities and adventures we went on when school was out. Bungy jumping, sky diving, zip wires, kayaking… the list is endless. Sharon is wealth of information and looks after all those who volunteer so well. She is worth her weight in gold and really helps make the adventure and experience the best it can be. I would recommend doing any of the programmes that Volunteers International Adventures run”

-Denise Bennett, United Kingdom