Additional class grades for Swellendam Farm School supports a lifetime of learning
For the first time since opening their doors some 67 years ago, Uitvlug Primary School, a small farm school, in Swellendam, Western Cape, was able to offer a Grade 7 class this year. Moreover, it has been announced that a further expansion, will mean that the 2024 academic year will kick-off with its first Grade R class. This addition will ensure that children from the neighbouring farms, which previously weren’t able to access school prior to Grade 1, will now have the chance to begin their education earlier, in preparation for their formal schooling.
Working alongside the Department of Basic Education, the close-by Excelsior wind energy facility is the funder of the upgrades of Uitvlug Primary School, which include the additional mobile classrooms complete with all the necessary fittings. Additionally, the Department has provided furniture and learning materials and the provision of an Educator for the Grade 7 class, from the local community.
Expressing her joy, Uitvlug Primary School Governing Body Chair, Juanita Krieger, commented, “Excelsior Wind has created an opportunity that we have dreamed about for many years. We are extremely excited about giving our children the opportunity to complete their primary school education from their home communities. We have even received applications from learners who previously dropped out of school, due to the financial implications of having to change schools at the end of Grade 6, and we are thrilled that they will get a second chance at completing their primary school career at Uitvlug Primary.”
These infrastructure upgrades are expected to draw more families from the local town, recognising this school’s quality of education. Once both the Grade 7 and Grade R classrooms are in operation, the school will be able to accommodate between 50 and 70 learners, compared to the previous maximum of approximately 30 learners.
ADDITIONAL CLASS GRADES FOR SWELLENDAM FARM SCHOOL SUPPORTS A LIFETIME OF LEARNING
“Having conducted a full analysis this area, as part of our ‘lifetime-of-learning’ approach to education, we became aware that children in the area had limited or no access to early childhood learning, which is key to ensuring school readiness. The introduction of Grade R at Uitvlug will ensure that children from the neighbouring farms will have an opportunity to be gradually integrated into the schooling systems, making the adjustment to formal school a bit easier,” said Celiwe Mabaso, Senior Social Performance Manager for Excelsior wind energy facility.
Prior to receiving the Grade 7 classroom, the learners would have to leave the primary school at the end of their Grade 6 year to attend an alternative primary school located a substantial distance away for the single Grade 7 year before moving onto high school. This caused great disruption and stress, and meant that their families would have to incur additional transport and accommodation costs.
“We noticed that in the situation where learners need to relocate for Grade 7 this often exposes learners to many social ills that they would otherwise not have been exposed to, should they have stayed within the farming community. The learners also often struggle with the transition from a very small schooling environment to a school with hundreds more learners, which in turn often results in high school dropouts later on,” added Mabaso.