Showing posts from February, 2014

Social work services should be flipped to be in line with their core purpose

Social workers have an educational role to play
Social workers, like teachers, are supposed to be spearheading social change? Social workers working closely with our schools have the ideal platform to intervene proactively by integrating their services into the daily programme of school life. Let me explain where I am heading with this discussion by presenting a brief profile of the families and children who probably constitute 80% of a social worker's case load.The sector that depends heavily on the support and intervention services of social workers is the poor, broken families. This group usually has multiple socio-economic and psychological problems that cause their lives to be unbearable. Because they do not have the knowledge nor the money to escape from this suffering, their future generations get stuck in this cycle as well. If we want to help lift communities out of their poverty trap, the key driver is access to quality education. Research supports this view that educated…

School Open Days don't have to be student recruitment drivers only

Open Days used to attract promising students
Many high schools are hosting their open days for those parents who are shopping around for schools. I am sure many of the parents and the students are excited about this pre- enrollment activity which is a necessity nowadays. Parents and their children trek from school to school, seeing what's on offer and then it's time to make application for placement at the school.The atmosphere at these events is welcoming and child- friendly. Everybody is smiling and eager to assist. The high level of student participation also adds to the charm. Many of the students vie to be ushers or to man one of the many activity stations at the Open Days. The parents and their children often meet friends at these engagements which adds to the social networking. All these scenes help to maximize the school's sales pitch which is geared to attract the most promising students and their parents who will help to bolster the school's record in the aca…

Clayton Small has big ideas for his grassroots cricket club in Steenberg

There was an energetic group of teenagers and adults in the parking area just outside Steenberg Primary School this morning. Of course, curious me had to go and find out where these youngsters were going to. Clayton Small, a young, energetic educator at Steenberg Primary, is with the group. The other adults are a mom and dad of one of the youngsters and Clayton 's friend. Clayton explains that he and his friend started a cricket club for young people. They were going to practice at the nearby sports field in Retreat where the Peninsula Cricket club has their grounds.Clayton himself plays for Peninsula Cricket club. After coaching their own team, he was going to play a match at 10h00. I hear how this grassroots youth cricket club was started with sponsorship from someone Clayton's friend had met. The idea is to expand the cricket club to girls as well. There are also plans to establish a proper cricket pitch and build a partnership with Peninsula Cricket club over the next thr…

A summary of the Workshop on the Roles and Responsibilities of SGBs

Today's SGB session started of with a lovely comraderie spirit. It often takes only a few hours of learning together in a healthy, collaborative space. You break down barriers very quickly. Human beings are wired to be communal and if the situation removes all threats, you will find spontaneous community building.
Ivan Carr summarized the key responsibilities of the SGB: policy design, financial management, administration and school development. The energy peaked during this session. The volley of questions and contributions from the participants were weighty, but based on their real experiences as school governors. The participants were reminded of their roles of managing the governance which includes the development of the school.
Then the focus shifted to Discipline and the School's Code of conduct for learners. One could see the interest of the governors. Here they were going to get all the finer details to suspend the learner or, even better, have the learner expelled. H…

SGB training on conflict resolution and conducting disciplinary hearings.

It is Friday afternoon. We are hosting an SGB Development and Training 2-day workshop for our school governors. The topics we are covering are: Emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, negotiation skills and how to conduct disciplinary hearings. Our delegates include two principals - Jean Human from Simonstown School and Michael Tyali from Ukhanyo Primary School, a few teachers, many parents and four RCL members. The four learners are from Muizenberg and Sibelius High schools.
It is not easy serving on the SGB. The SGB has a huge responsibility to ensure that the school runs smoothly and efficiently. There is a challenge finding parents-especially those from the poor communities - to make themselves available to serve on the SGB. Those parents who are eventually elected to serve on the school governing body in these poorer schools, find themselves in a difficult position. Many of them lack the skills, competencies and insights to carry out their responsibilities effectively.

SGB f…

St John's does have dedicated volunteers as stated in their mission statement

After meeting Firzaana and Marlon, two St. John's volunteers at Kirstenbosch gardens, I decided to google St John to read about the organisation and its mission statement. Right there in the first few lines, St Johns prides itself on its reputation as having dedicated volunteers. Well, we met two of the organisation's volunteers by chance and what has been our experience? We want to agree that this is true, based on our exchange with Marlon and Firzaana.Yes, we can attest to the wonderful, caring service we received from Firzaana and Marlon. After enjoying ourselves at the Freshlyground sunset concert, we had to trek to our car about 300 meters from the concert lawn zone. Desiree, my eldest sister, kitted in beautiful shoes,but unsuitable for this kind of walking, ditched her red wedge-heeled contraptions. What was a nice showpiece, became like an albatross. So there we were- Desiree, Sasha and I - sauntering down the cobble pathway. Desiree was coping with her barefoot swing…

Motivational talks for Lavender Hill High school learners

Lavender Hill Grade 12 learners themselves have amazing inspirational power. Today, we met the 126 Matric students, the class of 2014. A well-mannered group of young people who still have a sparkle in their eyes. The fact that these learners reached grade 12 despite their hardships and their daily grind to protect their souls and their integrity, is a morale booster for folk who have been spared such trauma. Despite their lived wisdom of how to overcome adversity, these very learners need a constant feed of motivation to remind them of their awesome power. Domingo sharing his " work-in-progress" journey with the learnersToday it was Domingo's privilege to meet these future trendsetters and to add a nugget of hope. Like his audience, Domingo too attended a school in the "ghettoes" as he put it. He was here to share his journey of carving a new life for himself. Domingo entitled his talk "Against all odds". In an easy conversational style, Domingo shar…

Sinazo hitchhikes to school because she cannot pay transport costs

Sinazo was hitch-hiking to her school, Masiphumelele High school that is situated in the sprawling informal settlement of Masiphumelele, just south of the middle-class suburb of Fish Hoek. Sinazo lives in Westlake, another poverty- stricken area hidden between the upmarket Stonehurst residential area, Westlake Business park that resembles a cosy, intimate space and then of course, the Westlake golf course with lush greens and stoic golf players. She usually waits there at the foot of Ou Kaapse Weg for someone to give her a ride to her school about 15 kilometers from her home. Our conversation flowed easily as we snaked around the bends of this mountain pass. I was the one posing the questions and Sinazo was only too happy to respond.I asked her to tell me which primary school she attended and why she had chosen to attend Masi, given the distance she had to cover every day.
"I attended Thomas Wilscutt Primary school in Retreat and then I went to Lourier Primary to complete my Grade…

No child should go hungry - my visit to Harmony Primary School

One of the highlights of my visit to Harmony Primary school was chatting to Foundation phase learners who were having their prepared meal. These learners were the second group of the morning to take their places in the small kitchen. Most of the plates were almost empty and the children were curious to see me and Ernst Easu, the principal, joining them to have a chat. Nothing beats the zest for life displayed by children. When I asked them who loves school, all their hands go up, some with spoons carefully balancing a bit of food in them. There was no way the filled spoon was going to block them from participating in this show and tell. Then I asked whether I could take a picture of them with their principal. Yes, they chanted and immediately the learners started creating a space for Ernst to sit. A bit of jostling ensued amongst a few of the learners to get their principal to sit next to them. Ernst enjoyed this playful scene and pretended he was having difficulty choosing a spot. E…

Visiting Floreat Primary and Capricorn Primary School turn me into a mentee on steroids

You will agree that even though you love your job, there are days when you wonder whether you are in the right place, don't you? Then there are those days - and hopefully they are the norm - when you ask yourself whether it is really possible to have so much joy; so much pleasure, when those with whom you work make you feel like a mentee on steroids? You know that feeling, right?Now, today I had one of those "mentee on steroids" days. I was merely going to pay two short courtesy visits to Floreat and Capricorn Primary schools in the heartland of the broader Lavender Hill-Steenberg area. However, each session became a reflective session on the quality education agenda driven at these two schools. I must add that I had not engineered any of the sort. My focus was just going to be on "basic functionality" - checking on textbooks, time tabling, staffing and the like, for today.At Floreat Primary SchoolSo, while I was sitting in the foyer at Floreat Primary school, …