Zakhele Primary School
It was an unplanned surprise visit to the 600-pupil Zakhele School in 1997 that first alerted us to the needs of schools in the former black townships in South Africa. At that time the school had no funding, no bank account, no telephone, no books or resources, huge classes, broken down toilets, and only one tap. Despite the difficulties, it had (and still has) a staff committed to providing for the children at the school.
Since that first visit, the Trust has, with its partners, enabled the school to become better equipped with books and learning materials. Initially a room was refurbished as a small library but recently this has been rebuilt, refurnished and stocked with several thousand books so that it now serves the school as a functioning library for all the children. The Trust originally provided computer facilities kindly donated by RM Plc. and a range of software donated by a number of educational software companies in the UK. Funding from the Trust enabled a room to be made secure to house the new computers and, following the installation of a telephone line, email links were established with some UK schools. To help the school make progress with unfamiliar technology, the Trust funded a teacher from the UK to work in the school for a month. These computers have now been replaced by the local education authority.
The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) helped us to establish a science room. A derelict room was refurbished with new furniture, science equipment and a whiteboard; the Trust funded a data projector and enabled another teacher from the UK to work in a support role to get science teaching under way..
We have part-funded experienced primary teachers from a Hampshire school to work during their summer holidays at Zakhele School where they have supported literacy, mathematics and ICT teaching.
Many of the children at Zakhele live in extreme poverty in the squatter camps. Many are eligible for the government’s feeding scheme which provides some food in the school at lunchtime. The Trust recently bought a new cooker for the school. For many children this may be the only food they get each day.
We continue to support Zakhele school, mainly by helping them purchase more books to enrich pupils’ learning and to help them to learn to read.
Meetse A Bophelo Primary School
Meetse A Bophelo School is a huge primary school of over 2,500 pupils most of whom live in the surrounding squatter camps. The school was set up by parents in 1994 following the arrival of Freedom and has been subsequently taken over by the local education authority. Until recently it was housed in converted cargo containers which were in a very poor state of repair. Many of them were dilapidated and falling apart, and all of them were extremely hot in summer. Some of the classes had over 60 pupils which made the situation even worse. Happily, the school was rebuilt in 2010 and now accommodates around 1,500 pupils.
Just like Zakhele School, books and equipment are in short supply and the Trust has been able to make several grants to the school to supplement funding from the local education authorities.
All the pupils are eligible for the government feeding scheme and so the school has to prepare 1,500 meals every day. Gas to heat the food is provided, but this is always insufficient for the numbers to be catered for. As a result, the Trust has assisted the school to purchase additional gas so that no child goes hungry.
In the summer of 2006, an advisory teacher from the UK worked in the school helping specifically with the teaching of reading. She helped the school convert an old tin shack into a 'library' where the children could share what few books they had. The children loved using the library shack, but it was far too small and, being made of corrugated iron, it became unbearably hot in the summer. It also let in the rain – hardly ideal for a library! So the Trust undertook a major project to build a permanent library and to stock it with books.
Sikhanyisele Primary School
Sikhanyisele Primary School serves a mixed community in Mamelodi which includes large sections of squatter camps. It has around 600 pupils and needs similar to those in Zakhele School. All learning resources are in short supply and the teachers are often frustrated by the lack of sufficient resources to support effective teaching. The Trust has so far provided several tranches of funds for books and classroom resources. Some funds have been used to provide equipment for out of school activities for the pupils. Playing chess has become extremely popular with some of the pupils and we have provided chess sets so that more pupils can learn to play. They are now competing very successfully with other schools in the region.
Tshegofatsong Special School
Tshegofatsong Special School provides education for children with severe learning difficulties and is the only special school in Mamelodi. As well as providing education for pupils of school age, it also runs a special unit for young adults teaching them basic skills and simple trades such as baking, sewing and brick-making which might enable them to find work. Children come to the school from all over Mamelodi and many travel long distances to get to school. The Trust has provided funding for new playground equipment and funding to replace worn out classroom furniture. More recently, we helped to establish a new Reception Unit by funding furniture and equipment.
Stanza Bopape Secondary School
The Trust has recently provided funding for this secondary school on the edge of the squatter camp, close to Zakhele Primary School. Our first project was to improve the teaching of science by providing new science equipment and resources so that pupils could undertake experiments for themselves. Previously, the lack of resources meant that they could only watch the teacher carrying out the experiment. Our current project is to refurbish and re-stock the school library which is very out of date. The few books that are in the library are very old and do not support current syllabuses or provide older students with the resources they need for individual project work. The first phase of this project to refurbish the accommodation is well under way and funding for new books will follow.
The school does not receive government funding for a feeding scheme for pupils. However, many pupils come to school hungry and the school runs its own feeding scheme with what funds it can raise locally. This is insufficient to meet the need and the Trust is supporting this scheme financially every month to ensure that needy children receive some food during the day.