Kwasa Newsletter No.6

Kwasa Newsletter No.6 - 2019/20
Posted Mar 2020

The Goal:

2027: a 1,000 pupil 3-18 yr independent, low fee Anglican college.

The Vision:

Quality education for the young people of Daggafontein to enable them to reverse the cycle of poverty in which they live.

Daggafontein:

An Informal settlement of more than 15,000 people on the outskirts of Springs, 30 miles east of Johannesburg

Kwasa College:

A South African non-profit social enterprise, led by Sharron Dinnie, to provide low fee, independent education for the children of Daggafontein.

341

Children educated daily

151,000

Nutritious meals served p.a

58

UK educational bursaries funded

16

Vulnerable children looked after

INTRODUCTION

With the continuing help of all of Kwasa’s supporters around the world, Kwasa College has again had a very successful year. In Newsletter No. 5 we revisited progress over the 8 years we have been working with Sharron. In this newsletter, we will cover the changes and developments that have happened in the January 2019-January 2020 year.

Annie, Jan, Phil and I visited the school in March 2019, with a focus on pre-school outdoor learning, and Annie and I returned in November 2019 for a broader conversation with Sharron on finances, progress and strategy and to agree plans for the building works in 2020.

The challenges are constant, but the successes are real and clear. 341 young people are benefiting from an education that is lifting their their aspirations and equipping them to escape their life of poverty, ill health, domestic and sexual violence, and low life expectancy.

THE STUDENTS AND TEACHERS AT KWASA

Grades 1-7 now number 207 students age 6-12, very nearly full, with a further 134 3-5 year olds in the Pre-school.

The oldest students have just entered Grade 7, their final year of Primary education at Kwasa. We have followed these students since they enrolled at Pre-School in 2011 – and what a huge change we have seen. Over these 10 years, their confidence, aspirations, mastery of the English and Afrikaans languages they will need in High School, and their acquisition of skills and knowledge across the full South African education curriculum are clear to see.

Eventually, the plan is for Kwasa students to continue their education at Kwasa until they matriculate at Grade 12. Until we have the infrastructure and staffing for a High School within Kwasa, Sharron’s shorter term plan is to find places in local high schools for the Grade 7 students when they graduate in December, and to find the funds to pay the school fees for these students.

On the staffing side, there have been further changes which have strengthened the teaching staff. Owen Thomas is now in his second year as Head of Primary, and has taken the lead in finding ways to motivate and reward students. Gill Edgar has retired as Head of Pre-school, and Sonja Van Loggerenberg has been promoted as her replacement. 12 of the 13 class teachers and school leadership are now qualified teachers.

On their visit in March, Jan and Annie worked further with the Pre-school staff team, building their confidence to plan, collaborate and deliver valuable student learning through outdoor play.

STUDENT WELLBEING AND ENRICHMENT

An exciting new project was being unveiled when we visited in November. An engineering company, Atlas Copco, from Boksburg has adopted Kwasa as one of its Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment charities. They invested in 3 large net agri-tunnels, employed agricultural consultants to work with Kwasa, funded and trained 2 workers from the settlement and drilled a second borehole. When we visited in November, the tunnels were filled with organic, pesticide free tomatoes, beet and spinach (more like our Chard), and the crops were being harvested and used by the school cooks in the lunchtime meals.

Spare produce will be sold to parents and the wider Daggafontein community, and a second crop will be seeded and harvested in the first half of 2020.

The primary objective is to increase the nutritional intake of the Kwasa students in one or both of their daily meals at the school. It is also setting an example to students and parents of the importance of fresh vegetables in their diets.

2019 got off to a wonderful start with a visit to Kwasa by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA, Michael Curry. (Bishop Michael will be remembered in the UK for his recent sermon at the wedding of Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex). Sharron reported that he was presented with a picture of all the Kwasa children “to remember us by!”

The “Teach a Child to Swim” programme organised by St. Dunstan’s College continued this year, with Grades 1 to 4 attending. Some children were invited to swim at Roedean Girls school. St. Dunstan’s also invited the Grade 1, 2 and 3 Netball and Football teams to participate in a tournament where they all did very well, as they did at a local tournament arranged by Selcourt Primary School in Springs.

ASSETS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

It has been a really busy year for Sharron, Patrick Jardine (the trustee who spends every Friday on site planning and managing the building programmes) and Gordon the builder!

Two new classrooms were constructed during the year, in the same ‘dual’ model as the others. Building consent took significantly longer, due a more complicated raft being required, but Gordon and his team of builders completed the works just before the Christmas ‘summer’ break, and it was ready for occupancy by the new grade 7 students this January 2020.

Funds for the classrooms came from UK donors, via West Green Charitable trust – each classroom costs in the region of £50,000.

A second build project saw completion of a new Art room, which will provide opportunities for a wide range of art classes including painting, ceramics, and textiles art. This was completed, just, before the students came back after the summer break. A generous donor linked to St Peter’s College in Johannesburg provided substantial funding, and the Grade 11 students from St Peter’s became bricklayers for a week before Gordon and his team provided the finishing touches!

In year 3 of what has become a 4 year project to rebuild/renovate the White Building into a school hall, offices and much much more, last year saw the completion of windows, the stage structure, and 2nd fix electrics throughout. The plans for 2020 include a new concrete floor, external doors, internal plastering, a computer/media room, toilet blocks and a clinic.

A donation from a US donor enabled the installation of a new ‘jungle gym’ play area for use by the pre-school children, replacing old iron structures which had started to become dangerous.

Kwasa College now has its own web site, www.kwasacollege.org – again, through the efforts of three individuals from North Carolina.

And finally, a further highlight this year was the donation from Holy Trinity in Guildford enabling the purchase of a new, larger Bus in which to transport students. The old vehicle can now be given a much lighter schedule after serving so well for so long.
So, beyond 2020? The Kwasa Board has decided to move from single to two form entry throughout the Primary school. This is being planned for January 2022, and will require replication of the current classroom stock – a not insubstantial building and financial challenge!

ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY

Bursaries which pay for children to attend Kwasa who otherwise would be unable to afford the school fees have grown again this year. A huge thank you to the 41 individuals and companies from the UK who are providing 58 bursaries for students with their monthly donations.

The Board of Trustee’s decision this year move to 2-form entry for the Primary school in 2022, and to delay transition from Primary to full Secondary/High School provision, is based on a sensible assessment that the latter move will be more sustainable from a larger 2-form entry pupil (and income) base.

A knock on effect is that for the near future Grade 7 students graduating will need to found places in Springs and Benoni High Schools. Sharron will be seeking sponsorship for these fees, and where possible, applying for school scholarships, to facilitate student access to High School for all Kwasa Grade 7’s.

One big positive is that in 2019, for the first time since our involvement with Kwasa, the funding from the Department for Education (some 20% of Kwasa income) was paid, on time and without reduction, and the signs are that this will continue going forward.

Looking wider, the town of Springs is showing signs of revitalisation and regeneration, which in turn will improve employment prospects. Fibre broadband is creeping nearer, reaching Benoni last year – this year Springs, and maybe even Kwasa in the near future.

The South African government plans for 30 mega cities across the country include Daggafontein Megacity. On the derelict land that surrounds Kwasa College site on three sides, a R7.1 billion (£400 million) development project is now under way. Civil engineering works have commenced on utility and electricity supply. On an area of 750 hectares, the plan is to provide “the answer to getting rid of informal settlements”: 17,500 owner occupied and subsidised dwellings; 3 schools (assumed Kwasa plus 2 other); sports and recreation facilities; medical services; and urban agriculture. 7,500 temporary jobs are predicted, with 3,500 jobs post completion, currently scheduled for 2027.

A link to Daggafontein Mega City (Kwasa, visible by its oval running track is positioned adjacent to Portion A, Extension 6):
VIEW LINK HERE

Watch this space!

A THANK YOU!

All of this has been made possible by the passion and drive of Sharron, and by the unflagging support of all of you. Every pound you donate through West Green charity goes to Kwasa as we have no administrative or other costs. Thank you!

Finally, from World Food Day October 2019 – a short video from The Travelling Glutton food truck which donated profits from the day to Kwasa:

— Grade 5 student in conversation with a visiting UK headteacher “Next time you come back, could you teach us about geology … I want to know about rocks on the moon”

“… so we can make a better future for ourselves”

 

Please continue to support Kwasa