South African schools – love of books and lack of food

By Kate Stefanko. Filed in project news, volunteers' fundraising  |  
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Port Elizabeth – news from our local partner, Paul at Calabash, indicates the huge challenges faced by township schools. The following is about just one school, but applies to many others.

“I went to to check on progress with the new library, and it was apparent the school has made little progress. However, the book boxes that were set up with the help of recent volunteers are still in use and being circulated between the classes. So kids have access to books in class, some progress … now we need to encourage the school to get started on the checking-out system so that kids can take the books home as well …

“Last year, the school was divided between 2 locations as there were (at the time!!!) enough teachers … this year, it’s all change again, and the school has had its teacher numbers reduced and been consolidated onto one premises again. This means MASSIVE overcrowding, with 40-50 children per class. There are over 1200 kids in a school with capacity for 850.

“In addition, nearly all feeding programmes at the school have stopped – due to not qualifying for Dept. aid, and with a local NGO having no more funds. The teachers are really feeling the lack of food, and children are sleeping in class. It’s an uphill battle at the moment and morale is fairly low.

“There is some government support for feeding programmes in schools that are considered to be especially poor – but even the schools that qualify for aid don’t always receive the 80 cents per child per day. We are still contributing what we can through volunteers’ fundraising efforts, buying food to the value of R4000 every 3 months – which is enough to feed about half the school …”

So, what can volunteers do about all of this? Working to improve school libraries is one obvious area where help is needed, but what about the feeding problem? In the short term, financial assistance would of course be welcomed you can donate to Calabash Trust here – but most schools also have some land where vegetable gardens can be developed, which could provide a more sustainable long-term solution … what about it everyone? Would you enjoy a placement where you work with the school communities to develop their own feeding programmes?

You can be part of projects to feed hungry minds and hungry bodies!

Read about the Township Schools volunteer Programme here

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