Children learn life skills at caring school

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There may not be any traffic lights in Mpumalanga's rural Nkomazi area, but children at the local primary school know exactly what they are for, writes Thabisile Khoza.

The Sifundzekhaya Primary School in Driekoppies village is the site of a Junior Traffic Training Centre, complete with a miniature road network that includes pedestrian crossings, traffic lights and stop streets.

"Our school is surrounded by busy roads and we realised it was important for our children to learn about road rules so they could move safely between home and school," said the school’s principal Mirriam Khoza.

The project was established with the assistance of the Mpumalanga Premier Thabang Makwetla, who helped raise R15 000 and the community who have helped build the school from being a mud hut to a thriving place of learning.

Ms Khoza said this was not the only project that was assisting children at the school become well-rounded youngsters.

Children are taught about personal hygiene and how to ensure drinking water is safe so that they do not contract diseases such as cholera or typhoid. There are often cholera and diarrhoea outbreaks in Nkomazi because many people from the community rely on nearby streams for their drinking water.

"We also have a school nurse who visits frequently to examine and treat children who are sick," said Ms Khoza.

In addition, children at the school are met with a bowl of porridge before class in the morning as many of them arrive at school hungry, explained Ms Khoza.

"We get maize meal and mealies from local stores and farmers who want to help us fight hunger at our school," she said, adding that the feeding programme had improved the attendance rate at the school.

It’s not only the pupils who benefit from the schools initiatives as their parents have been given a section of the school’s premises where they can grow vegetables for their families.

She said the community had been closely involved with the development of the school since it was first built. It started as a mud school but it was when the Japanese Embassy donated money that they were able to build classrooms.

"Parents had to bring along one brick, a window frame and a corrugated iron sheet to build the school block. I found myself on top of the roof nailing on the corrugated sheets," said the dedicate principal.

The school was officially registered with the Department of Education in 2002 and currently has 25 teachers, 942 children and 21 classrooms.

It also includes a computer lab with 31 computers sponsored by the South African Revenue Services. South African Breweries donated R110 000 for a sports ground and a borehole to provide water for both the school and to be able to water the plants in the vegetable garden.

Local businesses donated school uniforms, school bags as well as bicycles to needy children at the school.

"More than 20 pupils have been adopted by teachers at the school who help them with their education, clothing, food and schoolwork," she said.

She said the school's success was a result of the involvement of the community, parents and teachers.

"The school was built from nothing and involved everyone in its progress. I always say that it is important to take ownership of whatever you are doing, because that way you will succeed," said Khoza.

- BuaNews

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