Communities’ help proves vital in rising above circumstances

Lee-Anne Butler HERALD REPORTER

COMMUNITY involvement is the key to success at Sapphire Road Primary School in Port Elizabeth’s Booysen Park.

The school is leading the way in innovative new ways for community involvement to ensure its pupils receive quality education.

 

BUDDING ARTIST... Sapphire Road Primary School Grade 7 pupil Athenkosi Nqezane, 13, displays his artwork which will be auctioned off on an international website next month. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
BUDDING ARTIST… Sapphire Road Primary School Grade 7 pupil Athenkosi Nqezane, 13, displays his artwork which will be auctioned off on an international website next month. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI

Under principal Bruce Damons’s leadership the school declared itself a no- fees school due to the 70% unemployment rate in the area. Instead of relying on Education Department hand-outs, it has its own fund-raising initiatives.

 

Damons is currently in Kenya, but deputy principal Sylvia Frans said this week: “I think Sapphire can be an example to other schools. This is a school where the teachers and the community have a relationship and the school’s doors are always open to the people who live here.”

After hours unemployed youth and parents are taught computer literacy for as little as R70 to R100, and receive an accreditation certificate on completion of the course.

Frans said the school would have an international art auction with its partner school on the internet where the children’s work would be auctioned off with some proceeds going to the school.

Normoyle Primary School at Missionvale Care Centre in Port Elizabeth is another example of how community involvement can reap rewards.

The school, which offers a play and learn centre and Grades R to 3, depends solely on assistance from the community and sponsorships from corporates.

The Missionvale school is immaculately clean and has toys, stationery, equipment, its own soup kitchen and a playground with a jungle gym.

“We receive generous donations from other schools of school clothes and stationery. We would not have made it without these donations,” said Muriel Eskok, head caregiver at the Missionvale Care Centre.

Eskok said the school had partnerships with Grey High School and Alexander Road High who offered school uniforms to the children. Companies involved include Waltons Stationers, Volkswagen and General Motors South Africa.

In another example of community participation, past pupils and parents rallied around Alpha Primary School in Port Elizabeth after it was torched by arsonists early this year. Six classrooms were burnt down in February, leaving 250 pupils without a roof over their heads for classes.

This prompted massive assistance from local businesses, including the VW Community Trust, Curves Famhealth Centre, Sapphire Savings Club, Collegiate Junior School and former pupils and parents of current pupils.

Veronica Potgieter, a projects co-ordinator at Alpha Primary, was overwhelmed at how the community, past pupils and parents had given time, effort and money to help the school.

One past pupil, now employed at Rand Civils, spearheaded a project to build two school gates, repair fencing and build a wall at the school.

“The children are seeing these past pupils helping and it gives them a sense of pride.

“They will also help their school one day when they leave.

“I think it is great that so many people are helping, especially schools like Collegiate and Herbert Hurd. Grinaker LTA, Rotary, there are just too many to mention. We are grateful to everyone who has helped us.”

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