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HISTORIC SCHOOLS RESTORATION PROJECT

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THE PILOT SCHOOLS

Three new schools have been added to the original pilot schools, making up a total of nine. The most recent, added at the request of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, are Ohlange near Durban (originally on the first pilot school list but removed due to problems on campus), and Inkamana High School and Vryheid Comprehensive School, both in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

As with the first six pilot schools, an educational audit was undertaken by the Independent Quality Assurance Agency, and The HSRP architectural team, together with local consultants, undertook a needs analysis for the physical infrastructure of these additional three schools.

A comprehensive report outlining the present circumstances and the priority needs of each school now exists and is being used by the HSRP for planning and fundraising purposes.

A brief outline of the status of each pilot school appears on the following pages. Details of their history and current circumstances may be found on our website www.historicschools.org.za, and information from our comprehensive report is available on request.

Adams College

This historic school, situated 8km from Amanzimtoti in KwaZulu-Natal, is an impressive example of a state school being well run and controlled by a highly competent principal and a strong governing body comprising parents and administrators.

From a matric pass rate of 100% in 2008, the school has dropped to 88.8% at the end of 2009, but with an increased university exemption rate of 70%. The lower overall pass rate is attributed to a drop in mathematics and science results due to lack of available funding for necessary additional teachers. However, the college will be seeking external help in 2010 and reports that the Chemserve company has recently sponsored the construction of a state-of-the-art science laboratory.

More resources, classrooms, staff and boarding houses are still needed, along with improved site services, but in general the school is currently managing well.


Above: Healdtown’s original hostel for junior boys, one of the historic buildings earmarked for restoration.

Healdtown Comprehensive High School

Slow progress is being made in the restoration of Healdtown. However, Principal Thomas Hagspihl, appointed by the Provincial Department of Education from the beginning of 2009, strives to do what he can with limited resources to improve conditions on campus and raise the standards of teaching and learning. Among other things, he has initiated partnership relations with a number of more affluent schools, he has convinced Sanlam to support a school feeding scheme to ensure that his pupils do not have to learn on empty stomachs, and he has managed to find money in his miniscule budget to convert an old storeroom into a clean and functional kitchen.

We are delighted that he has received some support in the form of two recent graduates in English and Science to supplement his teaching staff from the beginning of 2010. These two additional teachers from the NGO TEACH SA are being funded by the HSRP and have settled in well.

Another small success story from Healdtown is the road leading up to the school, which was in a very bad state, to the extent that teachers were often unable to reach the school on rainy days. The HSRP wrote to or contacted every possible official during 2009 and, amazingly, the graders moved in during the second term. The road is now much improved and presents no obstacle to school attendance.

Following the HSRP strategic planning meeting in January 2010, where it was decided that major intervention was required at Healdtown as a matter of urgency, a facilitated stakeholder meeting was held at the school in February. Despite temperatures in excess of 40º C, this workshop was very well attended, with representation from all stakeholder bodies including national, provincial and local government, SADTU, local community leaders, learners, teachers and alumni.

Full support for the restoration of the school and the beginnings of a common vision were achieved, with the need for boarding facilities emerging as one priority. A consultant has since been employed to draw up an in-depth feasibility study and report on the school, some funds have already been raised and we are confident that work will begin soon.

Inanda Seminary

Inanda is an exceptionally well-run school, with high commitment and morale among learners, staff and management, evidenced by a continuing 100% matric pass rate. It is one of the better resourced and performing schools among the HSRP pilots and, since we have tended to concentrate more on those schools with greater needs, no gains have yet been made as a result of work we have done there. However, urgent maintenance and upgrades are needed in some areas and increased enrolment requires greater capacity. The school remains under-resourced in some areas and the HSRP has produced an in-depth report on areas of need.

Headmistress Judy Tate is always generous with her advice and time and has been a valued participant in a number of HSRP meetings and workshops. We are most grateful for her ongoing support.

Inkamana High School

Inkamana is situated in deep rural KwaZulu-Natal and is one of those recently added to the HSRP’s list of pilot schools. Started by German Benedictine missionaries in 1923, it has an excellent reputation, consistently achieving a 100% matric pass rate with 100% university exemptions in 2009. It is reported as an exceptionally ordered and professional school by the Independent Quality Assurance Agency (IQAA), employed by the HSRP.

Despite the school’s excellent academic record and attempts to encourage the development of cultural activities such as sport, music (the school has an excellent choir) and poetry, it is badly under-resourced and much of its physical infrastructure is in need of renovation. Parts of the school hall, for example, have been declared off-limits due to crumbling walls, and the school has no sports field.

Comprehensive reports on infrastructural and educational needs have been drawn up by the HSRP. We believe that Inkamana is an excellent example of what can be achieved through dedicated leadership and teaching, committed and disciplined learning and a holistic, values-based approach.

Lemana High School

In February 2010 I attended a meeting of the Lemana Alumni Association on the historic school campus near Elim (an unrestored part of which is pictured above). I informed them of the HSRP’s general progress to date and urged them to set a date in the latter half of the year for an alumni gathering, which would be a vehicle for obtaining increased alumni support for the school. They agreed to consult and inform me.

Since 2009, the school has been trying to move from its present position back to the historic campus. At that time a stakeholder meeting, including government representatives, was held under the auspices of the HSRP where there was a decision by all parties that this was the right course of action. The Department of Education, which had been using part of the historic campus as offices, vacated it in preparation for the school’s move. Unfortunately, due perhaps to the reorganisation of the provincial government and the appointment of a new premier after the general election, the move has yet to be accomplished, despite my meeting with Premier Mathale and MEC Masemola in September 2009 where they expressed support for this plan.

It is rather sad to visit the old campus (much of which is still is reasonable condition) with its enormous, recently built school hall, state-of-the-art science lab and boarding houses still sitting unused. Inevitably, infrastructure deterioration is taking place due to disuse, despite some maintenance still being carried out and the constant presence of security guards.

The HSRP will continue to seek meetings with the Premier and necessary officials and leaders in order to try and fulfil the mandate of the stakeholders.

On a positive note, two “ambassadors” for supplementary teaching have been appointed to Lemana by TEACH SA and are being funded by the HSRP for 2010 and 2011.


Above: The Dr JL Dube Interpretation Centre, once the home of Dr Dube, is housed on Ohlange School’s premises.

Ohlange High School

Ohlange was initially named in 2007 as one of the first HSRP pilot schools, but was then removed in 2008 due to disturbances on campus that made it impossible for the HSRP-initiated financial and educational audits to take place. It was placed back on the list of pilot schools during 2009, at the request of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government. Ohlange is an iconic school, being the first to be founded by a black man, Dr J L Dube, and therefore of great historical significance, so we are pleased to incorporate it into our body of pilot schools once more.

As with the other pilot schools, a needs analysis report has been drawn up by our architectural team and the Independent Quality Assurance Agency. There is much work to be done here which will require significant funding. Some of the many problems experienced by Ohlange include a poor matric pass rate, only half the classroom capacity necessary to house its 1500 learners, an unreliable water supply, boarding facilities in need of renovation and extension, and no school phone lines due to a large unpaid bill.

However, the IQAA reports that since the beginning of 2009, the morale and spirit in the school are much improved, with learners and staff now focused on seeking to improve and excel, and the general tone of the school and appearance of the learners is reported as “giving a good impression”.

St Matthew’s High School

During the period under review, St Matthew’s has benefitted on many fronts through the involvement of the Calabar Foundation. Through their funding of improvements on the school campus, as well as the full-time presence of a Foundation staff member on the St Matthew’s campus, significant progress has been made in restoring infrastructure and providing much-needed resources. We are most grateful for the Foundation’s hard work and generosity. In addition, teacher support from the graduates of St Chad’s College in the UK has been put in place and is working well. They too deserve recognition and kudos.

We also gratefully acknowledge the additional funds awarded for the upgrade of St Matthew’s by the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, and in particular Premier Kiviet, who has been supportive in both word and deed. Important infrastructural repairs and upgrades should begin during 2010, particularly to the oldest boarding house for girls, which had to be vacated for a period in 2009 due to serious problems with the sewerage and water reticulation systems.

Tiger Kloof Educational Institution

Tiger Kloof, located near Vryburg in the North West Province, is another school that can boast a 100% matric pass rate for the past few years. Well run, with effective educational systems in place and an infrastructure in a reasonable state, the school is an excellent example of what can be achieved in a government school.

Like Inanda, it is currently one of the least needy of our pilot schools and has therefore been pushed somewhat to the back of the queue in terms of our energy output. However, it is important to note that the school receives only minimal support from the Department of Education and relies for most of its funding on a private foundation based in Switzerland, which also provides school operational costs. This arrangement is not sustainable for the long term and other sources still have to be found to maintain the school in the future.

Once again, school leadership is seen to be the key for the existing high morale and educational standards.

Vryheid Comprehensive School

Vryheid is one of the three latest schools to be added to the list of HSRP pilots. It is situated in the Vryheid area not far from Inkamana High School, but while Inkamana is a private institution, Vryheid is a government boarding school with only basic facilities provided for by the state. Previously it produced a standard 100% matric pass rate but this has dropped over the past few years and is currently a cause for concern. Some staff and management posts remain unfilled and all members of the school management team are currently serving in an acting capacity.

Like the other schools, Vryheid has been through the HSRP-initiated educational and infrastructural “audit”. The current infrastructure is in reasonable condition but there are issues requiring attention, most urgently the replacement of an LP gas installation. The present school hall (pictured above) is a makeshift structure, consisting of a roof covering a sloping paved area between two classrooms. Basic resources such as library books are lacking and a sports field is also desperately needed.

Despite difficult circumstances, Vryheid has many strengths and the majority of learners and staff are reported to contribute to a caring, work-oriented ethos and are proud of their school.

2009/10

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