We just received the first quarter reports and newsletters from the EduPeg program, which continues to make a huge positive impact on the lives of children in Botswana and South Africa. Below is a brief update on the KwaZulu Natal program, which includes 38 schools and 15,452 students. You can also download the full newsletter (PDF) >
To reduce costs, as well as to develop our trainers in Kwa-Zulu Natal, we decided to terminate the services of Ms Brenda Vilbro as of December 2009, who had previously overseen the training and facilitation into this province.
Thobelani, Nomvuzo & Sibongile have all undergone computer skills training and they have all hugely benefitted from this. All of them are delighted with their new skills, the additional responsibilities placed upon them and the confidence in their competence, shown them, by Edupeg.
Our dedicated team has visited 38 primary schools this quarter, and following visits to five additional schools in the week 15-19 March 2010, they will cease visits to schools until after the Easter school holidays, in mid-April 2010. (Shirley and Irma also work in this cluster, just into the 6 Isandlwana Primary Schools, included in the figure stated above). I am thrilled with the growth in skills and capacity displayed by Thobelani, Nomvuzo & Sibongile. They are a cohesive team, who are collectively and individually motivated, professional and dedicated to the improvement of numeracy and literacy skills of the learners in the rural and peri-urban regions where we work.
Sibongile and Nomvuzo pro-actively obtained copies of the newly distributed departmental lesson plans, with which they familiarised themselves, prior to commencing our school visits this year. Once in schools, educators were very keen to get support with understanding these lessons, as well as assistance as to how to include the resources, required by these documents. Teachers have been thrilled with the patient, professional support given to them by our trainers.
Many of the schools that we visit in Kwa-Zulu Natal, could benefit from re-furbishment and restoration. In many schools, the desks and chairs are both old, and inadequate for the increased enrolment of students, and many children are forced to sit 3 to a desk, designed to accommodate 2 children. In many classes, particularly in Intermediate and Senior Phase, the overcrowding in classrooms is such that the educator is entirely unable to circulate around the classroom, assessing students’ work, or assisting those pupils in need of help. Teaching in such conditions is obviously extremely challenging, often very de-motivating, as well as being exhausting for the teacher. Good results are not easily going to be achieved under such conditions.
All of our schools are participants in the school feeding programme, and in Kwa-Zulu Natal, most schools have cultivated often quite extensive vegetable gardens, to supplement the nutritional value of the supplied meal. Road access to these rural/semi-rural schools has been quite challenging, as due to the heavy rains, the roads have been quite treacherous. At times our intrepid and gallant little team has had to walk the final distances to schools!
The team have also initiated principal and EDO visits in Ndwedwe, Pietermaritzburg, Port Shepstone and Bizana. These have been well attended and the departmental officials, many of whom are new due to the recent re-organisation of circuits, are thrilled with the content of the Edupeg workbooks, as well as the valuable “on the ground” support provided to teachers in schools. Circuit Managers are keen to have a greater number of schools included in the programme, but at present funds preclude this.
Irma O’Donovan obtained ± 45 kg’s of teacher resources, mainly in poster and chart format, which were sent to Isandlwana and then distributed to the very needy and isolated schools in this cluster.
Four American tourists, whom Irma and Shirley met at Isandlwana Lodge, and who were impressed with the work with which we are involved, gave a donation which has enabled us to create 15 A3, laminated posters of Edupeg pictures, per school, to promote knowledge and awareness of the world beyond the very limited confines of the children’s world (in Isandlwana).
I am well pleased with what we have been able to achieve in this province, this quarter.