Masihambisane Community Development Programme
It has been part of the vision of Grace College to have an active Outreach Programme that makes a real difference in Sweetwaters, Edendale and Lions River. Masihambisane, Zulu for "Let us walk together" is currently hosted by Grace College and involves a number of outreach initiatives and is growing from strength to strength.
In broad terms this structured programme has three objectives:
- To provide formal training and through an ongoing process of interaction, encouragement for principals and teachers from schools in the urban and rural communities within the vicinity of Hilton, Sweetwaters, Edendale, Lions River and the Midlands.
- To utilise school pupils, privileged enough to have access to an international education system, to be directly involved in interacting weekly with fellow pupils, from disadvantaged communities, in their classrooms to share subject topics and assist in motivating new friends they make along the way.
- Introducing students into the formal bridging program hosted by Grace College. This "bridging program", which takes a year to complete, assists learners to close the gap between the education they have received and the standard required at high school.
This programme includes the following elements:
- Seminars for Principals of government schools in the Lions River and Mooi River Circuits, to encourage, inspire and "walk together" as we seek to upgrade education in the Midlands. Seminars for principals are arranged each term, each with a relevant topic for discussion. The seminars are well attended by local principals and are adding value to the lives of those dedicated to leading their respective schools. At the request of the Principals, future seminars are planned, Governing Body members, assisting them in the policy-making decisions required at that level.
- Site Visits to schools by invitation to conduct: Whole staff development, SMT training, Governing Body coaching, Matric motivation and front desk development.
- Workshops for Teachers are scheduled each term. Our staff members donate their time to "walk together" with educators in their same subject fields, assisting in lesson planning and innovative classroom presentation. Workshops for foundation, intermediate and senior phases are conducted through networking with Laddsworth Primary School.
Each grade/class in Grace College also "adopts" an Outreach Project and in the past year assistance has been given to the Musawenkosi Pre-Primary School in Mphophomeni, to the uMngeni Aids Centre and to the uMngeni Hospital for the Mentally and Physically Disabled.
Established in 2004, the LEAP year programme has been operating with steady growth and progress.
This programme was created by the fact that many pupils, primarily from previously disadvantaged schools, and entering the high school environment for the first time, were seriously battling to keep up with their peers in Grade 8. Initially, learners were selected and offered one year's intensive training in essential numeracy and literacy skills. If they were successful, they were then offered the opportunity to be absorbed into the main system for the rest of their high school careers. For various reasons, this approach has now been changed.
Schools are required to identify a pupil who has potential, with a very poor economic background. Only two pupils are absorbed into the programme each year and are given sponsorship to further their studies at Grace College. These pupils have to come from any two of our numerous neighbouring rural primary schools. Grace College has ten of these learners each academic year, spread over five grades. There can be no doubt that many of them are having to work to put food on the table, mainly because HIV/AIDS has removed the bread-winner, and as a result education often takes a back seat in their priorities.
Grace College has hosted Annual Masihambisane Soccer and Netball Festivals since August 2008. The festivals bring soccer and netball teams from the local Hilton and the local rural schools together for a day of interaction and good sport. The school will also allow local rural schools regular use of the sports facilities available on site.
Grace College has brought on board, three rural high schools as partner schools. These schools are given specific Maths development activities on a regular basis. Mrs. Judith Brown (retired The Wykeham Collegiate ex-Headmistress) dedicates two hours a week to each school to assist Maths educators with teaching and delivery strategies. She has, on occasion, interacted with learners at these schools. A programme to assist with Science and Biology practicals at these schools is in the pipeline. Sponsorship of 60 Maths calculators was organised by Judith through Rotary for Grade 12 learners at Siyanda Secondary School during 2012. A library was set up at Siyanda by Judith in the same year.
Computers have been set up and activated at S'bongumbomvu Combined School by Judith. Computer provision is in the pipeline for Siyanda Secondary School.