The tempo is upping at the Bulungula Incubator. I spent last week hopping from one very productive meeting to the next.
My meeting with Fundani Nonke left me feeling like they really are the right people for us to be working with to ensure community ownership and long term sustainability of our school. They will be working with capacitating the community and the teaching body to take control of the running of the school. Now we just have to find the funding to pay for them to start, soon. We can’t afford to wait for the final funding proposal to go out on this one because we really need them to start before the architect, Malcolm Worby and builder, Justin Descoins, come up. This is because they will be helping the community develop their own vision of what they want from the school, and how the building should look. So, I am onto writing another mini-proposal. I will post this one as soon as it is done.
Thandi Lewin, the Chief Director of equity in Education, and Themba Kojana, the National Director of Rural Education managed to squeeze in a meeting with me. They love the fact that we will be piloting a new model for the rehabilitation of rural crisis schools, and documenting it all as we go along. They say they are in need of test cases, such as we are providing. So, they are on board in terms of support for the concept, and will be helping us in as many ways as they can. This is a BIG step. Now we need to make sure we have the same support at local level.
I spent Thursday and Friday of last week at the CASNET (Caring Schools Network) workshop and meeting, run by Save the Children. CASNET is essentially a network of people who work with bettering children’s lives, especially in relation to education. The event provided an excellent networking and learning opportunity, and also the interesting experience of seeing that even people who work in the field of education find it hard to believe that schools as dilapidated and dysfunctional as ours still exist. We really are working with one of the worst off schools in the country.
We have had our disappointments, too, though. We thought that one of the really exciting outcomes of last week’s meetings was that Ms Sindiswa Mana, the Grade R (pre-primary) teacher, would be receiving teacher training. I met with Luvo Gazi of ETDP-SETA (see www.etdpsets.org.za), who agreed that she was exactly the type of person who should be pt through this government supported training programme. At the end of the course she would receive her National Grade R diploma. Ms Mana started volunteering in 2004 at our barely functioning school without training, and taught for 2 years before she started to receive a volunteer’s stipend. She has been the one truly committed teacher who has really tried to make a difference to the learner’s lives, and she really deserves this training. Unfortunately, we hit another stumbling block. To do this course Ms Mana would have had to go to Mtata this Thursday past (the 15th) to write the entrance test. In order to take this day off she needed permission from a representative at the department of education. When I called this person to ask for this permission for Ms Mana she refused it, insisting that I come and meet with her first in Idutywa. We cannot find a time to do this before the end of next week, and the opportunity has already past by.
Otherwise…we have delayed the time when the architect and builder will come up by a bit. They are snowed under at the moment because it is the end of the building year, and we need to get those funds in to pay for Fundani Nonke first. They will come up sometime around mid-December instead. This is not really a set back, as there is so much on the go at the moment.
And finally, Paygate, the international system to receive donations, is live!!! We are just making sure it all works smoothly (by making our own donations to ourselves) and then we will put the details on the website.
And the beat goes on…