The implementation of a remedial teacher and an arts, crafts and entrepreneurial skills teacher at LR Schmidt Primary School in Genadendal is a culmination of much lobbying, says principal Simon Speelman and families and community members associated with the school.
These two posts, which were implemented in 2016 with funding made available by Klipheuwel Wind Farm, provides a stimulating and creative environment for many children who are not academically inclined.
“It all started in 2016 when we did an analysis of the learners’ results and performance in class, and we recognised that we needed to think outside of the box if we wanted to see a difference in our learners’ achievements,” Speelman said.
“At the time, the Western Cape Education Department wanted to make the school fully inclusive, which gave us the opportunity to bring in expertise to meet the needs of the learners. But no funds were available for this, so we are so grateful to Klipheuwel Wind Farm, who were able to step in and meet this need,” Speelman explains the school would not be where they are today without them.
LR Schmidt Primary, located about 30km from the wind farm, educates 420 children from Grade R to Grade 7. Remedial class teacher Juliet Oliver has nearly 30 years’ experience and teaches a class of 20 learners at Grade 4 stage, but range in ability from Grade R to Grade 3.
“Having a remedial class has definitely benefited the school and the learners,” she says. “I can clearly see how they have improved. The learners are often at a very low level when they begin in my class, and by the end of the year they are doing so well their confidence has grown immensely too.”
Heidi von Caeus, arts, crafts and entrepreneurial skills teacher believes each learner has individual talents, strengths and abilities. “I believe every child is born with a different set of abilities,” she says. “We don’t all excel academically; some are adept at using their hands, while others read well, and some learners are more analytical, and so on. At our school we like to be able to cater for a variety of abilities.”
Learners are regularly taken to the Greyton Market on a Saturday to sell the goods they make in class.
They learn how to communicate with customers, and market their goods, which has a huge effect on growing their confidence.
“The learners who were bullied and laughed at before are now in the class that everyone wants to be in,” Von Caeus said. “Hardened, angry young people forget their challenges while they create, and they excel at working as a team.”
In addition to this school support programme, Klipheuwel Wind Farm also funds a bursary programme, launched in 2016. To date, it has invested around R2 million across among 23 recipients. These cover the costs of tuition fees and travel as well as accommodation costs and book allowances, and even a stipend is included.
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