South Africa : Minister opens R3 million administration block for poor school

By Gabi Khumalo

Vlakfontein - Education Minister Naledi Pandor officially opened a R3 million administration block at the Inkululeko Primary School in Vlakfontein on Tuesday.

The building boasts a staffroom, general office, kitchen, bookroom, printing room, sick room, TV equipment and library books which will help close the gap between rich and poor schools in terms of resources.

The building was a result of a partnership between the Imperial Group and Ukhamba Community Development Trust, which contributes a total of R5 million towards upgrading the school since 2004.

However, the partnership has gone beyond the mere provision of physical faculties, which the minister said was encouraging, initiating various programmes in the school and ensuring they become self-reliant.

Educators have been trained, Grade R educators were assisted in completing their studies in early childhood development and learners were taken on educational tours to places where they were taught about their heritage and their past.

They have also instituted measures to motivate learners to improve the school's Maths literacy and pass rate.

Speaking at the event on Tuesday, the school's Acting Deputy Principal Shareen Mamphoto said previously children in Vlakfontein were left vulnerable by the shortage of schools in the area.

"Learners who have participated in the programme, are performing well in Maths. Learners achieving a 100 percent pass in 2007 and last year in the school's assessment standard set.

"Our learners are motivated yearly to keep performing and behaving well, Ukhamba and Imperial provide learners who are best in maths, overall academic achiever and best English with prizes that are suitable for that category.

"This encourages competition of our learners, which also improves the school's overall pass rate, not only did the programme benefit our learners but educators as well," she said.

Ms Mamphoto said the programme was aligned with the National Curriculum Statement and has been revised to also align to the foundation for learning campaign.

Imperial Holdings Chief Executive Officer, Hubert Brody said the company's vision was to assist the poorest people with hope, improve their lives via education and provide a sense of achievement.

He added that all this had to be done in a sustainable way in partnership with the department and the community.

"We believe that focussing on primary education will give learners early momentum in their lives and a foundation to achieve success in senior school and life," Mr Brody said.

He said the company's approach was to work hands on with the communities while taking them towards becoming self sufficient. "We derive the greatest satisfaction when we see the school and the community respond and when the cycle becomes self-sustainable," Mr Brody said.

Mr Brody said he had seen a marked progress in the schools numeracy levels. The school was now head for a 50 percent numeracy level, where it was once 10 percent.

Minister Pandor said while the department had done much to ensure schools were properly resourced, private and public partnerships were critical in ensuring services reach a broader base of the communities.

"Our capital funding has increased substantially over the past 10 years, over and above this, the department has tried to redress the stark historical inequalities in the distribution of education resources inputs," Minister Pandor said.

Since 2006, over 2 233 new schools have been constructed, 73 214 additional classrooms provided, 6 297 schools provided with water and electricity and 2 242 with sanitation and 11 574 with electricity.

She said earlier this month, ArcellorMittal began a R250 million investment in the construction of ten schools and last year in October the EU completed its rehabilitation of 27 schools. - BuaNews