The project was completed towards the end of November 2011 but the funds I could raise were depleted before the classrooms could be painted! I was actually quite surprised that we achieved what we did on a shoe-string budget. In the end Medal Paints sponsored some paint and I black-mailed and begged some READ staff and family members to do the work. We painted the classrooms ourselves one Saturday and the old fireplace was painted a bright yellow – a colour I saw in my minds-eye ever since I saw the sad and sorry ruin. It is MAGIC what difference a coat of fresh paint makes
The library was officially opened on 3 December 2011 coinciding with the annual school prize giving. Some people who generously contributed took time out to share the celebrations to be at the opening. André Erasmus of Amecon Construction and Shuan Yazbek of Tswane Hardware who between them funded the lion’s share of the construction and shelving were there. So was Lynn Raphaely, representing the Union of Jewish Women. The UJW contributes foodstuffs for the orphan children.
Bishop Paul Verryn was instrumental in the establishment of the school in 2008 and he officially opened the library. The kids, parents and teachers were very appreciative of having one of the best libraries in the inner city at their disposal.
Funny thing is that I never wanted to be acknowledged for the magic – The little School that Can deserves all the help they can get. The results they achieve with so little is pure amazingness and is more than enough of a “thank you”
I’ve had little contact with the school since the opening of the library but the principal, William Kandowe, send me the “O” level final results in mid-January. 16 of the 17 entrants passed the internationally recognized Cambridge exams! That’s 94% - outstanding taking into account the lack of resources and even more so when comparing these results with the rigged and watered down 67% national Grade 12 pass rate.
Professor Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State recently commented on the state of South African Education:
“I would seriously consider not sending my child to school in South Africa, for one simple reason: I do not trust a system that makes it possible for a child to pass Grade 12 with 30% in some subjects and 40% in other subjects. I would be filled with fear when I discover that you can get 32% in mathematics and 27% in physical science and still get an official document that says you can continue to study towards a Bachelor’s degree at university. I would worry myself senseless when I enroll my child in Grade 1 knowing that she could be among the more than half-a-million children who would not make it through to Grade 12. I would be horrified at the possibility that the principal might force her to do mathematical literacy because someone decided she could not do pure mathematics, because it would make the schools pass averages look bad. And I would be angry when I find that she is guaranteed to be among the 96% pass rate for Life Orientation when all the other subjects in the national Senior Certificate have pass rates way below this number.
It is extremely difficult to fail Grade 12 in South Africa today. You have to put in a special effort, miss your classes, deliberately provide wrong answers to questions, and hand in your paper early during an exam session and maybe, just maybe, you will fail.”
Scary Stuff, but as usual Professor Jansen tells it exactly as it is.
Last week I went to Albert Street for the first time this year. I wanted to show a foreign guest who specializes in delivering sustainable curriculum, control and infrastructure enhancements in the education sector in many countries what can be achieved on a wing and a prayer if a school has committed and passionate teachers.
It was early afternoon and most grade classes were still hard at work. In the library the kids were lining up to check out books. The facility has been used since November as an adult learning centre to teach refugees computer skills. It is hard to believe that this was a ruin twelve months ago.
Talking to the principal I again realized the day to day struggles the school is facing there’s still a huge amount of work and support required as they receive no government grants or support.
-It costs R350 per month to provide tuition to each learner
- It costs R100 per month to buy a train ticket for the learners who stay in Soweto
- It cost R150 a month to provide each of the 140 orphaned learners with one meal a day.
The two completed classrooms cannot be fully utilized as there are no desks or chairs. Shaun Yazbek of Tshwane Hardware has since delivered 20 refurbished school desks and promised another batch by next week. Sixty chairs are required so I’ll be doing the rounds again to find some funding – about R3 000 is needed for this.
The school is now a registered beneficiary with the Woolworths “My School Programme.” If you shop at Woolworths please add Albert Street as a beneficiary on your School Card:
-You can update your profile on www.myschool.co.za
- You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to Albert Street School as a beneficiary
- Or you can phone the call centre on 0860 100 455
I have long ago realized that my involvement with Albert Street won’t end with the completion of the library. The old school building still needs to be painted. There’s the ongoing basic need of the 130 orphaned children including food to be provided for – The long term commitment of Gastaldi Distributors, the Johannesburg branch of the Union of Jewish Women and the Ornico Group helps to fill their tummies most days.
There’s also the small matter of 16 kids with an excellent schooling that’s struggling to find employment or a way to further their studies.
This includes Hillary Mudziviri who so touching and passionately spoke about his African Dream in July.
If you would like to sponsor a learner consider making a donation to:
Name of Account: CMM Deaconess Society - Albert Street School
Bank: First National Bank
Branch Name: RMB Private Bank Johannesburg
Branch Code: 261 251
Account No: 62209247487The sub-text of Field of Dreams is, and will always be. “If You Can Dream It – You can Do It” – Together we are dreaming and doing.