At Royal Drakensberg Primary School (RDP) each day, be it hot, cold, wet or dry there is a whole lot on the go. This is an incredibly nurturing space to grow little people. The school is set beside the mountains with rivers and forests close by, so reading class may happen next to the Natural Pool; there may be picnics beside the Waterfall or runs along the country track on the hillside. No wonder, children love to come to school where teachers are determined to do their best to help them grow.
How different it is from so many other situations. Megan Bedingham, Founder of the school recalls “My father was in school in the dark ages and they learnt to read by standing close to the teacher. Large and in-charge, she would be armed with a great long stick, and each time they got a word wrong there was a whipping on the back on the knees. He chose not to do music because one wrong note meant a strike across the knuckles. Years later my brother started Class 1 and in his first few weeks also landed in the Head’s office for a thrashing for writing the word he was learning onto the treasured flash card. Pretty harsh!” Isn’t it marvellous that we’ve moved to brighter times where we celebrate advancement and rather encourage and guide when children find reading and learning hard?
At RDP the littlest members in pre-school learn a whole lot of English, the Grade Rs are reading simple stories while the Grade 1s have learnt all about being brave and generous and how to use words rather than hands. The wonder and excitement of learning warms hearts and inspires everyone. The teachers beam with pride as they see children’s behaviour improve, becoming kind in their actions and words.
“While we celebrate the big steps and academic achievements, there is a whole lot more that makes this little school so precious,” says Megan. This year Samkelo headed to the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School, Olwethu completes her 4th year at Clifton on a full scholarship and our first RDP kids head into Grade 11 in 2017. Next year RDP celebrates its 10th birthday and certainly wouldn’t have made it without amazing support and encouragement from N3TC and their touching lives program. Many lives have been touched and there are many stories to come.