Sibelius High School hosted World Aids Day organized by the Department of Education in December 2012.

Sibelius High School's place in the sun

Last year the Department of Basic Education held their World Aids Day (WAD) event at Sibelius High School on the Cape Flats. Jacques, a grade 10 learner at the school, was the winner of the HIV/Aids Life Skills Postcard competition run by DBE. Because he won, part of the prize was that the World Aids Day celebrations would be hosted at his school. Prior to the event, the national WAD project team visited Sibelius High school.

A snapshot of what happens outside the classrooms

They were fascinated to hear how the school drives its life skills programme. Sibelius High school, like most of the Cape Flats schools, is confronted almost daily with the brutalities of the socio-economic ills. Derrick Patience, the Head of the school shared a few of the horror stories they have to deal with. The group heard about the Grade 12 learner who successfully wrote her Maths P2 after giving birth a few hours prior to the NSC examination, the story of a learner who lost her baby after giving birth at the school at the beginning of last year, the lure of gangsterism and drugs, dysfunctional families – the list goes on. This is what makes teaching such a challenge, said Derrick, and this is what saps the energy of the teachers.Yet, in spite of this dark picture, Sibelius High school has a thriving Life orientation department, expertly headed by Avril Peters, a passionate educator. Jacques had provided some detail of their life skills education at the school and his plea for more help for young boys like himself definitely hit home with the judges.

Jacques, the Sibelius High school learner who won the postcard competition run by DBE's HIV/Aids and Life Skills directorate poses with his mother and the national and district officials.

From left: Derrick Patience (Principal), Avril Peters (Life Orientation Teacher and Head), Raphael Wolf, reporter at Southern Mail, Pierre Fraser, psychologist, Jacques and his Mom

Derrick Patience (Principal) poses with the national WAD -HIV/Aids National Project team with Grassroots Soccer delegate and officials of MSED 
The activities arranged for the learners on the day

On the World Aids Day, the learners were entertained by Grassroots soccer, an NGO that uses soccer to educate the youth about HIV/Aids. After lunch, the main programme began. Most of the acts were performed by learners themselves. The learners performed a play written and directed by themselves, the singers composed their own positive HIV/Aids songs and the poets recited their own poems. All the items had a single, powerful message: Living with HIV/Aids positively and how to care for your own health and well-being by not making yourself vulnerable to contracting the disease. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed the performances.

Our district director, Glen van Harte, was the ideal programme director. He captured the celebrations, affirmed the learner performers, bellowed with satisfaction at the right moment and gasped at poignant moments to drive the message of healthy living and non-discrimination home. 
Top, clockwise: Loretta Erasmus, HIV/Aids WCape Manager and other shots taken at the Pre -WAD meeting in Derrick's office.

Derrick sharing some of the challenges that his school faces

Jacques, the Grade 10 learner, who made The World Aids Day event possible

Jacques sat there quietly throughout the proceedings, smiling joyfully and enjoying the fruits of his labour. He had taken the time to make his voice heard on how the Life skills education programme for all South African learners should be shaped. He had made a contribution and the designers of the national life skills programme designers were interested. Jacques had affirmed the powerful role of his teacher, Avril Peters, and his school in showing care and support for the learners. Also, his participation had blessed his school with a wonderful WAD event, fully sponsored and enjoyed by all who were there.
This is the power of the youth. They can help us to transform our communities by being active contributors. We saw this again on the day when a Grade 10 boy brought the national education department’s HIV/Aids and Life skills directorate to Cape Town. Well done, Jacques… keep pushing.. continue making a difference…


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