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Showing posts from September, 2013

Every small trader has a Coca Cola connection!

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Perhaps my scotoma around Coke has just been lifted . Suddenly I see that every single small trader appears to have the coca cola branding next to the name of the shop or splashed on some part of its facade.
I first noticed this trend when I drove down Military Road in Steenberg. Military road is lined with small traders that serve the neighbouring Steenberg working class communities. The first shop to catch my eye was a brightly coloured orange-painted shop- the Fanta brand colour. Now, why would the owner choose such a brazen colour, I remember thinking. Then it hit me: almost every other shop was either painted largely red or had the coca cola branding taking up half of the fa├žade of the shops!

Of course, I made a special effort to see if coca cola had indeed stamped its dominance in working class areas via its unmistakeable curly brand name and the cola-red shaded bottle with the curly writing on it. Yep, it was indeed following me wherever I drove through the residential areas.  Wh…

Metro South Education District travel to !Khwa-ttu to celebrate Heritage Day with their San cousins

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Arriving at !Khwa-ttu cultural and education centre

Our arrival at !Khwa-ttu was like a massive homecoming. There were crackling fires lining the circular stoep with flames bouncing about excitedly. Then there was Michael, our chief tour guide and his team of San descendants displaying a continuous circle of smiles and walking in step with us to the dining hall. Steaming, frothy coffee and tea served by an ever charming catering team joined the welcome. Any one watching the dining room would have seen a wondrous blend of happy sounds, sights and smells from a group of people celebrating life. We were SO ready for our San experience here at the !Khwa-ttu Cultural and education centre!
San Storytelling circles

Effortlessly, we slipped into the world of the San, circling from one San storyteller to the next. We learn about the tools, utensils and accessories that were made from natural resources such as duiker and eland skin, calabash shells and porcupine pens.


We listened to stories told in…

ANA creates a cooperative learning opportunity for me and two schools

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The build up to the ANA assessments

During this past week all South African learners sat for the Annual National Assessments(ANA) standardized tests.  What was interesting is how parents, teachers and just about everybody became involved in some way with the preparation for the ANA tests.


There is definitely a mixed reaction to ANA on the ground.


Parents, friends and members in my family complained about the high standards of the sample tests that that they had to help their children with
"CAPS is difficult," said an exasperated Dad. “Goodness,” exclaimed one such friend, “I can’t recall ever having to answer such questions when I was in the Foundation phase”.

 A medical doctor said she was flabbergasted when she could not answer sample questions that her nephew at primary school had to practice answering. ANA even dominated the facebook statuses posted by my cyber friends. One teacher celebrated the performance of her Grade 1 class in the ANA tests, adding a smiley face a…

When only an African proverb can help me tell my story

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The power of African proverbs
I love African proverbs. They are powerful treasures of wisdom. In one stroke, an African proverb will teach you a life lesson. Achebe Chinua said that proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten. This is so true. The brevity of words, the sharpness that can sting and the clarity of meaning of most African proverbs have a lasting impact. They are condensed, thought-provoking conversations that can be peeled back layer by layer at your own leisure, long after the storytellers have departed.
If ever I felt the urge to peg a story within the tapestry of African proverbs, it is the story that I saw emerging from Shafiek, the regular busker, on a sunny winter's day.
Shafiek, the busker
Whenever I visit TEARS, one of my favourite charity shops, I see Shafiek, the busker. I must confess I deliberately dawdle in the area or sit in my car when I hear a few of my favourites “like Hey Jude “or “When I fall in love”. Shafiek who hails from the poverty-strick…

Heritage Day Planning Activities at Metro South Education District

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I have just started reading the book, “Community” by Peter Block, that was given to me by one of my colleagues, Cassy Dick, the principal of Steenberg Primary School. In the introduction, Peter Block tells us that he wants to “explore a way of thinking that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make than happen”.
 I wonder if the Heritage Committee to which I belong, would qualify as an “authentic community”. I serve on the Heritage Committee of our district, Metro South Education District and our task is to coordinate activities for the staff to celebrate Heritage Day. You be the judge after reading our story to get the Heritage extravaganza organized…
The behind-the-scenes stories that shape the meetings 

The coordinators of our Heritage committee are Errol and Derick, two of our circuit team managers. Simon, our performance management coordinator, has been invited to join the Heritage committee this year. 
The drama started when ou…

We need a dedicated creative arts curriculum to lift learner performance

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Schools must seriously consider designing and implementing a systems-wide creative arts curriculum at their schools, especially those schools serving poor communities.

A structured, sustainable creative arts curriculum must complement our rigid academic curriculum if we are serious about excellent learner performance. Creative arts are a critical lever to fast track learning and learner performance.
The reality of our schools serving the poor
I know we do have extra and co-curricular programmes at our schools and our learners are getting exposure to sport codes and a smattering of creative arts at our schools. I also know how difficult it is on our poorer schools to keep extra-mural programmes alive at the schools. The very teachers who are teaching non-stop and who are battling to mediate a new, challenging curriculum with are already struggling to feed our learners and doing their utmost to retain the learners at the schools. There is no broad-based parent structure and neither is th…