Midlands school striving for better

Sibonokuhle Primary School near Rosetta

By Garth Johnstone

Sibonokuhle Primary School near Rosetta, with the assistance of the local community, is striving to punch above its weight.

The government school, which was started in 1995 on land donated by a farmer, has about 60 pupils. It has a principal – Bongiwe Nondaba – and just one other teacher for grades 1-7. A member of the community provides a stipend for a trainee teacher, who is studying at Unisa through a bursary arranged by the Rotary Club of Mooi River, Midlands.

Principal Nondaba – who has been running the school since 2015 – has a heavy workload. Other than the management and administrative tasks she faces, she also teaches grades 4, 5, 6 and 7 with the help of the trainee teacher, while the other teacher tackles grades 1-3.

Small library

But the school – situated at the turn-off to Connington off the Kamberg Road – is making a fist of it. There have been a number of improvements in recent years, and – with the help of the community, including the Kamberg Farmers ‘Association and Nottingham Road Spar – internal and external walls have been painted, the school now has a small library, a formal cooking area and feeding scheme, and there are plans for a vegetable garden. It has electricity and water, there are Jo Jo tanks but the guttering has not been linked to the tanks yet.

A pupil scans through some of the books and magazines on offer at the library, looking for something to take out.

The children who attend the school mainly live in Rosetta or come from Bruntville, Mooi River, where classes are full to capacity.

Sibonokuhle pupils were struggling with a poorly resourced school, where classrooms were reportedly a shambles with dilapidated ceilings and floors that needed fixing. But repairs have been done and the staff are doing their best to turn things around with support from caring community members.

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A group of women have been going to the school once a week for the past three years to help teach English. They have established a small library, with books that have been donated and a large container provided by a construction company. The container now serves as the kitchen area and is fitted with proper equipment.

Books have been donated by schools in the area, and some have even been sent from Johannesburg and Durban. Rotary, through Computers 4 Africa, has organised 20 second hand computers, providing children with an introduction to computers and a means to start learning computer skills.

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A local taxi association also weighed in, taking 10 of the most needy pupils to Pietermaritzburg to be completely outfitted for school uniforms.

And the school is taking part in a recycling scheme, whereby plastic milk bottles can eventually be turned into benches once enough has been collected.

Costly repairs

But the efforts to improve the school do not stop there. Weston AgriSkills has cleared out and levelled a section of land to prepare it for a vegetable garden. Rotary Club of Mooi River, Midlands had a stoep with shaded area constructed around the container and donated desks, and Nottingham Road Spar chipped in to pay for costly repairs to the photocopier and supplied paint to paint classroom walls.

Principal Nondaba and her small team are proud of their school, but with the support of the local community they are aiming even higher.

YOU CAN HELP:
The school still needs help with the following:
Desks and chairs;
Labour to help finish painting some of the walls;
Sets of reading books, and children’s books.
School uniforms, shoes etc
Contacts:
Barbara Botts – 072 325 1345
Wendy Wilson – 082 749 9385