High School

School of Hope


The School of Hope, established in 1999, provides a second chance to vulnerable young people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to complete their schooling. Based in Observatory, Cape Town, the School of Hope is registered as a Special Needs Independent School with the Western Cape Education Department and is accredited with Umalusi (the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training). Situated in a modern building within a business park, our 16 dedicated staff members offer a non-judgemental environment for the holistic development of 170 learners annually.


At the School of Hope, our 11 academic and five support staff offer a homely but disciplined academic environment. Vulnerable young people can flourish and become empowered members of society when they successfully complete Grade 12 and obtain the school leaving certificate known as Matric. We offer our students personalised, holistic education, including the services of social workers and counsellors and we provide them with counselling, support, referrals and career guidance. The School of Hope creates an intimate and trusting learning environment, allowing our age-disadvantaged learners to participate in class, safe from the ridicule they might well receive in a mainstream classroom with peers two to three years younger. We provide each of our students with nutritious meals daily, as many of them don’t get regular meals at home.


Although the Western Cape boasts some of the most prestigious private schools in the country, it is also home to a dangerously high dropout rate. The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) estimates this at a conservative 55% of those who started school in Grade 1. The socioeconomic causes vary: teenage pregnancy in girls, drugs and gangsterism in boys. One overriding reason seems to be a lack of value placed on education. Young people may also abandon their studies to find work and an income to help their families; to look after younger siblings, or to nurse ailing grandparents. Others escape poverty and abuse by turning to a life on the streets, where they spend years perfecting the art of survival and a hand-to-mouth existence.

Mainstream schools are ill-equipped to deal with the complexities which these young people may be dealing with. Many of them are older when they decide to return to school, but no state school is obliged to enrol a young person who is older than 18. Despite having reached legal adulthood, they are emotionally and academically immature; in need of a nurturing environment to make up for the years they have lost. Without an education, they lose any hope of becoming employable and fall into a downward spiral of socially-unacceptable and negative coping mechanisms.


We are part of the solution. Since February 1999, School of Hope has offered young people the opportunity of completing their education. Young people who would otherwise be at home or on the streets enrol and aim to complete Grade 12. We endeavour to provide excellent educational opportunities in a caring, nurturing and non-judgmental environment in which everyone who wants to achieve their goal will be able to do so.

Our admissions policy is unique in that we accept young people up to the age of 21 from any background without prejudice, including those previously incarcerated, or with children of their own, who have been on the streets, or any young person who wants to complete their education. Our learners may be former street children, rehabilitated drug addicts or come from abusive, neglectful homes. A third of our learners live in child-care institutions and shelters. At least seven per cent of learners are parents themselves. Matric and are now working or studying further.

More about

School of Hope

Providing a second chance to vulnerable youth.

We are School of Hope

Located in Observatory, Cape Town, School of Hope is a registered independent school with the Western Cape Education Department. Our students, often from vulnerable or at-risk backgrounds, enjoy individual attention in small classes in a trusting learning environment. With a dedicated team of committed teachers and support staff, School of Hope offers a second chance to young people who have dropped out of the mainstream schooling system.

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When translated from Xhosa, our name “Thembalitsha” means “new hope”.

Our Aim

At Thembalitsha, we aim to restore and bring a new sense of hope to the destitute, forgotten and vulnerable people of the Western and Eastern Cape.