Three years ago, during his Gap Break, one of our English volunteers, assisted in a Grade 5 class at Oranjekloof Primary School, which serves the informal settlement of Imizano Yetho in Hout Bay. This in one of Volunteers Direct’s main projects. A couple of the pupils warmed to his extra teaching, and he continued to show an interest in specific kids when he returned to the U.K. Eventually he offered to raise funds to ensure that one particular bright girl – Abigail Jacobs – could enroll at Camps Bay High School, a good and well equipped fee paying school.
Abbi, besides being a good pupil is an excellent mid distance runner, netball player and dancer. She left Oranjekloof last year, where class sizes are anything from 45 to 55 pupils, where there are very few facilities, and where only a narrow range of subjects are taught.
The High School is in the elite Cape Town suburbs of Clifton and Camps Bay and most of the students are from privileged backgrounds. The school standards in all spheres are high and Abbi found the transition in the first couple of months very stressful, not helped by a Taxi strike that meant kids from the township missed 5 days schooling.
She came to us, in tears, on a couple of occasions saying that she found her new school unfriendly, that the work was too difficult and that she couldn’t cope. She wanted to move back to the township High School in Hout Bay. We spent many afternoons persuading her that the move to Camps Bay High would benefit her in the long run.
Slowly she relaxed into her new environment, helped by her winning the Girls Under 15, 800 metres at the school sports day (and subsequently running for the School team), and her ability at the school dance classes. From a child lacking in self esteem she has gained tremendously in confidence.
The school work is still demanding, and homework is hard particularly as she does not have a computer and no dedicated quiet area to study in the noisy and crowded township. Volunteers Direct assists the High School and younger Primary School kids by offering a Homework Club in a small room in the centre of the township. A small attempt to help but much more could be done.
Here are a few comments from Abbi’s first term report :
Life Orientaion – She is a polite young lady, I hope to see her confidence grow during the course of the year
Economics – Abigail tries to work harder every day.
Natural Sciences – Abigail has started to try hard. She is a capable pupil with much potential.
Class tutor – Abigail is a kind and caring young lady who has made a valuable contribution to school sporting activities this term. She has shown a keen interest in Arts and Culture.