BACKGROUND TO HANGBERG EDUCATIONAL TRUST (HET)
Hangberg is in Hout Bay near Cape Town and has an estimated 8000 people, of which
approximately 4000 are 18 years and younger. Similarly to other less advantaged communities in the Western Cape this vibrant, fun-loving community is plagued by unemployment, substance abuse, prostitution, poaching and gangsterism. A combination of these factors leads to unusually high levels of teenage pregnancies and morbidity rates as well as low parental involvement with one’s own offspring.
Non-parental engagement however is also sorely lacking for most children in Hangberg. One primary school, Sentinel Primary School, serves just under 1000 learners aged 6 to 12. For the pre-school child especially there is little to turn to: High level estimates show that between 200 to 250 children need Grade R facilities with current capacity for only 90 children. For a further 1000 children under the age of 6, of whom around 600 are aged 3 to 5 years, only 200 children are currently accommodated in “registered” facilities. Consequently at least 400 children aged 3 to 5 years have no access to proper pre-school care.
Further, it was observed in 2013 that the fail rate in Grade 1 at Sentinel Primary School drastically worsens depending on access to pre-school care: observations was 13% Grade 1 fail rate for children with some form of pre-school care worsening to a 24% fail rate with no pre-school care.
Against this backdrop, the Hangberg Educational Trust was established by 2 founding volunteers, Marquerithe Schreuder and Tania Gray, and 5 Trustees in May 2012. The Trust is founded on the belief that in tough socio-economic environments the cycle of weak coping mechanisms and poor parenting skills cannot be broken without quality early childhood interventions. In 2013 they set themselves a very simple vision which is to provide quality pre-school infrastructure to 300 children by the end of 2016. The Trust now has a dedicated team of passionate volunteers who share and drive this vision.
LIVING THE HET VISION
After many iterations a very special centre was designed by the architect Dawid de Vaal.
Dawid also designed the African-themed, beautiful and sturdy Ikhaya Lethemba in Imizamo Yethu. The designed centre is green- and disable friendly with enclosed space of 450m². It holds 4 classrooms for 30 children each with 2 toilets in each classroom, a lovely pavilion, 200m² of paved undercover play areas, loft rooms, high levels of security, a one way glass observation and special intervention room between classes, a disable friendly ramp and toilet, sick bay, kitchen, sufficient storage, separate delivery entrance to minimise disruption and enhance safety as well as a reception area with principal’s office.
However the quest for land was harder than envisaged. After three failed attempts to secure land a wonderful opportunity arose in August 2013. Based on a Memorandum of Agreement between the Trust and Sentinel Primary School the Ministry of Education allocated a part of the school’s land for the trust to develop a pre-primary school. The allocation of land by the Ministry of Education was subject to the approval of all plans as well as building permission from Western Cape Public Works. This approval and permission was finally received at the end of May 2014. Just one small hiccup remained: sufficient funding to build the dream centre.
In spite of the lack of a building Hangberg Pre-Primary School still managed to open its doors for the 2nd half of 2014, as always planned by the Trust and its members. This was made possible after 3 weeks of renovations of a spare classroom at Sentinel Primary School. Guidance on layout and colours was given by Cecile Boyd and the renovation work was done by volunteers and a team of energetic Camps Bay High School pupils in lieu of their 67 minutes for Mandela.
On Monday 21 July 2014 the school had 9 eager learners who have never been in a structured school day before. By Friday 24 July 2014 there were 20 excited, eager little ones on the carpets hanging onto every word the teacher, Mrs June Arn, was reading from colourful books donated by Cammy from Little Libraries. Parents are on time for drop-off at 8am and collection at 1pm and are being motivated never to default on their weekly fee of R50 for this quality half day education. Overnight a waiting list for the school has built up. The community is abuzz.
The impact on the children has been the most tangible. Over the period of just one day the children settle down and are even completing significantly larger puzzles on Day 2 than on Day 1. The “old” ones are making it their task to explain to newcomers how the routine works. Parents are hanging outside the door wanting to see why their kids are so keen to come to “school”. The teacher is also very excited about the change she is observing and is already closely monitoring their school readiness compared to the Grade R curriculum. Three children have been identified as needing special remediation and some may possibly have hearing- and sight issues. The Trust will now approach other organisations to support us with remedial matters and health screening.
Yes, the opening was not what was imagined in August 2013 due to the inability to achieve the desired levels of building funds. At the same time a lot was learnt about setting up in record time: classroom lay-outs, learning material requirements, finding and contracting with a teacher, finding and enrolling children, setting fees and processes, as well as agreements of understanding where necessary. These learnings will now directly benefit the setting up of a school for 120 kids.
As the classroom is only available for a limited period and the excitement and change is so tangible, the team is focusing significant efforts on fundraising to build the centre. The full economic cost for this quality centre has been set at R4million by the Trust’s Quantity Surveyor. Some funds have been raised from other NGOs as well as one corporate.
One imminent fundraising effort is the well-supported and oversubscribed annual dinner-dance at Suikerbossie. The 3rd such dance will be on Friday 1 August 2014 and the team are looking forward to sharing news and gathering wider support. Further sponsorship for the building is required. If you are interested and wish to hear more, please do not hesitate to contact Michele Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org or Marquerithe Schreuder at Marquerithe@mweb.co.za.
Any financial donations towards the building fund are welcomed. Tax donation certificates are available. Banking details are:
Hangberg Educational Trust
Branch 632 005
Account nr 927 428 6990
SWIFT code ABSAZAJJ
25 July 2014
Written by Marquerithe Schreuder