Community Schools Initiative Week - Inspiring Stories | Western Cape Government


Community Schools Initiative Week - Inspiring Stories

17 August 2006
Thousands of learners have opened their hearts to their school communities and upgraded their surroundings in the week of the Western Cape Education Department's (WCED) Community Schools Initiative week (14 - 18 August), which is the first-ever, as part of a highlight of the six-week Learning Cape Festival (LCF).

Learners have adopted a taxi rank, repaired vandalised buildings, spruced up environmental spaces, staged clean-up operations, and uncovered scores of children older than six, who were not enrolled at school.

The Learning Cape Festival's six-week programme runs till September 13 and sees events staged throughout the Western Cape to encourage a love for learning.

Read some of the inspiring stories of how schools can make a difference in the lives of whole communities.

Franschoek - School for all and all for school

Learners at a primary school housed inside their Franschoek informal settlement, uncovered a staggering 46 children between the ages of six and 12, who had never been enrolled for school.

Learners of Dalubuhle Primary School are determined that all the children living alongside them in Langrug informal settlement, be properly schooled.

As one of their Community Schools Week Focus projects, the young learners scoured the settlement and managed to identify 46 Langrug children over the age of six, who do not attend school. Dalubuhle is the only school in Langrug settlement, home to all its 339 learners.

"We estimate that about 50 of the camp's children are not enrolled in any school, when they should be," said principal Lucy Mbenenge.

"Early this week, our Grade Two to Seven learners, and their teachers, went on a 'Community Walk' into Langrug settlement to gather the details of children who are not properly enrolled," Mbenenge said.

"They wanted to get as much of these children's personal details as possible - for record purposes and for easier tracing," explained Mbenenge. "We hope to build on this database they started this week to encourage all Langrug's children to claim their right to education," she said.

Concerned learners proved very willing to blow the whistle on their neighbours.
Once discovered and interviewed for their particulars, the 47 unregistered children were invited to the school for an afternoon of learning fun and activities designed to encourage enrolment.

"Children learned to write their names for the first time, but it was the food that seemed to get them most excited," Mbenenge said. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visit on Wednesday.

"To our surprise, most of the visiting children were back the next day for our programme of motivational talks, story telling and reading by parents and community leaders. We are very pleased with their response and very proud of our learners for proactively encouraging learning," said Mbenenge.

Wellington - taxi drivers and commuters follow tots' example

The taxi-rank opposite the Pauw Gedenk Primêre Skool in Wellington used to be an eyesore, but now drivers and commuters have joined primary school kids in cleaning and picking up litter, instead of throwing it around.

The school children started a mini clean up campaign as part of the Western Cape Education's (WCED) Community Schools Initiative week, and they chose the busy taxi-rank.

It seems their enthusiasm has rubbed off on the adults. Teacher Shaneill Davids said the children's influence had filtered to commuters. "A woman waiting in a stationary taxi questioned a litter-clearing learner. When he explained his actions, she got out to help and then recruited others to join them."

They started cleaning the school premises, but have not confined "clean and neat" to their Main Road and its grounds. With their teachers, these busy bees regularly clean the town's main taxi rank, right opposite their school. Now they have "adopted" it, says teacher Davids.

"Because we look straight at the rank from our school, it became an eyesore. We started a mini clean up, which turned into a regular activity," she said. Children maintained the clean rank by picking up any litter they spotted.

"Now, taxi drivers are following their example and more are now picking up litter up, instead of throwing it down," Davids said. "Now the rank is clean more often than it's dirty," she giggles.

The excitement levels of the 510 foundation phase learners at Pauw Gedenk Primêr peaked during the week of the Community Schools Initiative week when Wellington Mayor, Charmaine Manuel, visited the school for the first time.

As part of their Community Schools Focus Week's activities, some of the Grade 3 learners were chosen to introduce Manuel to the entire staff. They literally bristled with excitement as they did so, in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa.

Hearing that Manuel had been a teacher for 27 years, they were eager to show off their school, and beamed proudly when she commended them on their respectful manner and their clean, well-kept school.

Paarl - Learners choke as their shack goes up in smoke

After spending several hours building a shack, slack-jawed young learners watched a fire destroy it in mere minutes. Fortunately the speculator blaze was quickly extinguished by firemen.

All this was part of the Drakenstein Fire Department's demonstration of how quickly fire ravages an informal settlement.

The 300 learners of Groenheuwel Primary school in Paarl, live in the nearby Fairyland informal settlement, home to several thousand people. "Now I know what some of my friends in my class go through when a fire breaks out in Fairyland," said 12-year-old Grade 7 Groenheuwel head girl Robin Davids.

"The firemen also showed us what to do if we burn our hands or if our clothes are on fire," she said. The Stop, Drop and Roll is a life-saving, easy-to-learn procedure, which even children can teach to others.

The fire prevention and safety demonstration was part of the Groenheuwel's programme for the Western Cape Education Department's Community School's Week Initiative.

Paarl - Storytelling and surprises at Orleansvale

Teachers at the Orleansvale Primary in Paarl were treated to a special surprise this week when parents showed up at school to show their appreciation.

Teachers received flowers, sweets and chocolates and letters from parents thanking them for the contribution they were making to education their children.
Teachers were also served tea by the elderly from the Chicago Centre for the Aged.

As part of the school's activities for the Western Cape Education Department's (WCED) Community Schools Initiative Focus, parents and elderly residents participated in storytelling lessons for learners.

School principal Mr Elmo Cairncross said parents and the elderly recalled stories of their past and also involved pupils in reading lessons.

The school, situated in an area of Paarl known as "Chicago" because of its history of gang violence, has about 650 pupils. Orleansvale celebrates its 21st anniversary in 2007.

Mbekweni - Langabuya Primary plants for the future

The Langabuya Primary in Mbekweni near Paarl took the first steps towards the growing of a vegetable garden that very soon will be able to feed large numbers at the school.

School principal Muriel Ndzuzo, teachers, pupils and many of their parents were hard at work this week tending to the vegetables - onions, spinach, cabbage and beetroot - that has been planted.

"The vegetables we are growing now will only be able to feed pupils in the foundation phase but we want to expand it to be able to feed Grade R pupils and pupils in higher standards," said Ms Ndzuzo.

As part of the school's activities for the Western Cape Education Department's (WCED) Community Schools Initiative Focus more plants and seeds will be purchased.

Mrs Ndzuzo said that more garden equipment would be purchased and the plan was to erect a fence around the vegetable garden.

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Gert Witbooi
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