Township schools now have a brighter future

Siyabonga Sfunda, Zitha Tracy and Lindiwe Sfunda of KaMhlushwa Primary love visiting their library.

KAMHLUSHWA – Most people have come to think of schools in towns as superior, while those in townships are accused of having lazy teachers and not properly educating learners.

The Penreach Courageous Leadership Development Programme is working to change both this perception and the grim reality of a lack of resources, by giving teachers and principals extra skills and helping them cultivate a passion for their work.

The programme was launched in July last year and 24 schools in the Malalane and Khulangwane circuits were selected to participate.

Penreach change agents Mr Derick Soko and Mr Sam Khoza recently took Corridor Gazette on a tour to see first-hand how schools in the villages and townships are faring.

The group visited clean, neat schools and passionate, enthusiastic teachers, principals and deputies, who have learned to think outside the box to improve their schools.

Several of the schools were also finalists or winners in the Nkomazi Local Municipality’s annual cleanest school competition.

READ: Nkomazi’s cleanest and greenest schools awarded

Hoedsch Primary in KaMhlushwa was the first stop. Ms Nonhlanhla Mnisi couldn’t stop talking about how the programme has helped her grow as a teacher and leader.

“They’ve equipped me to become a better leader and I’m ready for anything,” she said.

Change agent Mr Derick Soko with principal Ms Nonhlanhla Mnisi and a few pupils of Hoedsch Primary in KaMhlushwa.

With the help of the community they managed to build a roof under which the school holds assemblies, and hope to soon build a stage for events.

Penreach encouraged and taught principals to take on projects like these to better their schools, and to involve the community.

At KaMhlushwa Primary the group was met by friendly staff who eagerly showed off their beautiful library. Here children are encouraged to read books and discuss them, write poems and do crafts. There are also books for children with learning disabilities.

It aims to make it a community library, but needs more English storybooks and ones that the community can use. Any donations are very welcome.

Deputy principal Ms Kholiwe Mndawe said their training helped them open their minds and learn about the school and how they can help both pupils and teachers excel.

READ: Penreach invests in school principals

They hope to get a carpet and chairs for the children in the library as the floor is very cold in the winter.

Mhlosheni Primary School, the next stop, has a wonderful vegetable garden. The school provides meals for more than 500 children every day, using the vegetables and fruit to supplement the foods they buy.

Principal Ms Thembi Nkosi had rows of trophies in her office and said she didn’t register challenges. “The school works together as a team and uses the community’s ideas to run the school.”

Penreach helped to add to the skills she already had and motivated her to keep bettering her school.

Mhlosheni’s current project is to build benches and tables under the trees to give children a place to work or play while waiting for their family or transport after school.

Interested to see which other schools the group visited? Keep an eye out for the second article on the inspiring schools in Nkomazi in next week’s Corridor Gazette.

Retha Nel

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