Minister Debbie Schäfer Opens New School Hall for Sullivan Primary
Premier Helen Zille,
SG Penny Vinjevold,
Dr Jonathan Jansen,
Mr Sean Stuttaford and Mr John Matthews from Garden Cities,
Mrs Myrtle February and your team from the Archway Foundation,
Mr Glen Van Harte – District Director,
Senior Officials of the WCED,
Mr Ernest Moore – School Principal,
Neighbouring Principals and members of the SGB,
Educators, learners and parents.
Thank you very much for the invitation and the opportunity to address you on this wonderful occasion.
I don’t usually get to speak before the Premier, so this is a pleasant novelty for me.
This is a real celebration as we mark the official opening of the new school hall for Sullivan Primary.
Halls are an integral part of a school, and have been identified in the National Minister’s Norms and Standards that were published last year. Even though we completely agree that they are vital, we have to do a real balancing act with our finances to try and provide for all the needs in our schools. There are a lot of issues putting a huge strain on our finances. Even so, I must say I was horrified to hear today that this school has not had a school hall for 50 years!
So I would really like to thank Garden Cities and the Archway Foundation most sincerely for their contribution to this hall, and for the partnership that has led to 36 other school halls being built over the last 8 years. This is the third school hall that has been built this year with the assistance of the Archway Foundation. The other two halls were built at Strandfontein High School and Ceres Secondary School.
In 2012/13 The Archway Foundation contributed to four school halls – Cedar High School, Chris Hani High School, Esselen Park Secondary School and Sitambilo Matiso High School.
I am also advised that there are another six schools that will be benefiting from this project with halls that are either under construction or where construction will begin shortly (Thembalethu LSEN, Heathfield HS, Parkdene SS, Klein Nederburg SS, Morester SS, Lavender Hill SS).
I see on their website that the Archway Foundation is looking for more partners to help us build halls even quicker, with a backlog of about 700. I hope there are some successful business people here who may take up the challenge.
I would also like to acknowledge the WCED’s contribution to the successful implementation of this project. This is exactly the kind of partnership between government and the private sector that enables us to make things Better Together for the benefit of residents of the Western Cape, and in this case our schools in particular. Your hard work and efforts have all paid off today and I look forward to seeing this new hall being put to excellent use.
Any new school building or useful equipment adds value to a school and makes the environment more conducive to learning. But that alone will not make the difference we need in mastering the basic skills of literacy and numeracy that are still nowhere near where they should be. It is the use to which it is put that matters.
We are currently busy in the provincial government planning for the next five years. An integral part of that planning process is finding ways to use our school and community facilities more efficiently and in a more co-operative way, and ensuring that our learners are productively occupied for as many hours of the day as is possible, to prevent them being co-opted into gangs, and ensuring that they feel affirmed and part of a team. This could be done by having basketball teams, chess teams and other activities that complement what is learnt in school.
Just this morning I addressed a summit on discipline which the WCED organised, and keeping children busy was once again confirmed as a vital part of instilling a culture of discipline in our schools.
I would very much like to see this lovely new hall being used for such purposes. It is also helpful when school facilities are used after school hours, as it can minimise the opportunities available for vandalism.
The ability to read, write and calculate are three of the most important skills our children need in terms of their education and is the foundation upon which all further learning is built.
As the provincial Minister for Education, I am therefore interested in the Language and Mathematics results of the learners at all our schools, including this school, as they are crucial to achieving our strategic objectives. Perhaps you could find some fun ways to use this hall to encourage the learners read more and calculate better. I will be keeping a close eye on the results of the systemic tests and the ANA results.
Please think creatively about how you can use this hall to maximum advantage to address our social and learning issues.
I am aware that many learners, parents and educators are faced with challenging social and economic circumstances everyday but it is clearly evident that this school is being well administered, maintained and managed and I, and the WCED, am pleased to see this. Thank you to Mr Moore and all the educators at this school for your dedication and commitment.
To the school governing body, you have a significant responsibility which you exercise on behalf of this school. Thank you for your efforts in making today’s opening possible.
I hope you also take advantage this new school hall for possible future fundraising events.
To the learners of Sullivan Primary School – each and every one of you here today has been given the opportunity to learn at this school, to be taught, guided and stimulated by hard working teachers.
You now have to decide whether you are going to take full advantage of that opportunity. To make the right choices that will affect your life in the years to come. It’s not just about passing. It’s also about achieving the best you can so that you can move on successfully to high school with a good grounding. You can see what you can do with your life when you look at Prof Jansen – he is now leading one of our major universities, and he came from this very school in the days when things were even more difficult than they are now.
But with opportunity comes responsibility. You are responsible for doing your homework, studying hard for tests, respecting and taking advice from your teachers, and leading a healthy lifestyle.
I think you should also nag your principal and teachers about what exciting activities you can do in this hall, and I would be very happy to come for another visit and see them for myself.