What is it?

SoHK for Schools is a unique two-year programme that uses rugby coaching, career counseling and one on one mentoring to improve attendance and behaviour at school. The programme is designed as a long-term, consistent intervention where children are guided by a unique psychology and values-led approach that teaches character and positive attitudes for 28 weeks of the school year.

Who is it for?

We work with girls and boys at risk of disengagement from school or low educational attainment. These children may not be academic but despite life's challenges they want to push themselves to show other people what they are capable of.


MeeT Miguel

My name is Miguel, I was born in Congo and I came here when I was 3 years old. I go to Vista High School Im in Grade 8.

And I love playing rugby.

Things happened, I got abused. There was a time when my father broke my arm, I didn't know what was happening. I felt abandoned, I was hoping that something was going to happen.

When I wake up every day on a Wednesday I know I'm going to play rugby that day - I get really happy. I love running around, the energy. You are free. The first session that I came, we spoke about greeting each other, how to interact as a team.

School of Hard Knocks has given me another chance to be what I want to be again, it has given me life again.


Despite South Africa’s large investment in basic education, about 40% of Grade 1 learners will exit the South African schooling system before reaching Grade 12 and less than half will gain matric. Without matric, youth are more likely to remain unemployed and stuck in poverty for life as extended joblessness can lead to chronic unemployment and mental health issues.

What we do to help

  • Provide incentives for re-engaging in school, leading to decreased absenteeism and reduced conduct issues. This will allow learners to progress through high school, matriculate and have greater access to employment, further education and/or training opportunities.

  • Develop learners’ personal and social responsibility, which will transfer to other life domains and support learners’ psycho-social resilience.

  • Increase supportive peer and adult relationships, which will further contribute to and sustain learners’ psycho-social resilience.



Of school children (in our UK program) stay in mainstream education


Of children in our Cape Town programme rate themselves as more confident, hopeful and motivated

I’ve changed a lot inside and outside of school. My bad behaviour has disappeared and I’ve gotten more positive feedback. I came the 3rd highest in Maths in my recent exams.
— Yaseen (16) Vista High School
When I grow up I really want to be part of School of Hard Knocks, because I love sports and I love what they are doing. Before I started the program I never imagined that I would want to teach rugby to kids, but since attending this is something that I would really like to do
— Imagine, SOHK Learner
Individually they now have the belief in themselves, they feel that they want to talk responsibility. I believe a little more in myself, I am standing up for myself, there is a little bit more confidence. There is a sense of belonging, I belong to this group
— Mrs Stuurman, Teacher at Harold Cressy
Most of the children come from broken homes, they have no mum or dad, but at least at Hard Knocks they have a sense of belonging or some sort of brotherhood, maybe they don’t have that at home, but they are getting it here
— Captain October, SAPS
The students are a lot more positive and have more self respect, you can see more discipline which is really great
— Mrs Southgate, Principal, Trafalgar High