Community Information Evening

Hermanus Times
20/03/2008 10:49 AM – (SA)
Kerry van Rensburg

The trustees and management of the Enlighten Education Trust held an information evening and exhibition at the Overstrand auditorium on Monday, 10 March. The event was well supported and the exhibition of the many projects implemented by the trust provided a visual perspective of the far-reaching work that has been going on in the schools in the Overstrand in the past six years.

Lois Kleyn, Enlighten’s programme director and trust manager, started the evening’s proceedings with a brief overview of the organisation’s history, growth, objectives and achievements. The trust was established by Henri Kuiper in 2002 when he saw how children were going to school starving and the dismal conditions in the many schools he visited. He says: “If you face a situation you don’t like, do something to change it.”

Kuiper and a powerful board of trustees secured funding from the DG Murray Trust, the Standard Bank Foundation and the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund and set about changing the face of education in this region.

In the years the trust has established itself as a professional, committed and reliable education organisation, Kuiper has seen “miracle after miracle”.

All of Enlighten’s projects complement and support each other and cover four focus areas, namely school management and development, curriculum interventions, youth projects and social projects. As the number of projects have grown, so has the staff contingent made up of highly skilled and motivated professionals.

Project leaders presented short, sharp reviews of the work they are responsible for at the information evening and guests were encouraged to speak to them in the banqueting hall at the respective exhibition stands if further details were required.

Curriculum interventions include training and support in learning areas that are new to teachers, like technology, life orientation, arts and culture and business economics. The maths, literacy and science projects aim at improving learning in these critical areas, but ensure that the basics of teaching are in place. Specialists in these three areas have been appointed to assist teachers in the classrooms.

The ACE technology project, which is part of ORT-SA – an organisation which specialises in education, vocational training and community development for SA’s impoverished communities – is a two-year part-time, postgraduate qualification for teachers. Teachers are trained in all aspects of technology, science and maths education and the facilitator of the project Anthea Africa, says: “The commitment of the these teachers is phenomenal.” Follow up and support is provided to make sure that what the teachers are learning is passed onto the learners.

The Molteno project is lead by and focuses on foundation language and literacy for Xhosa learners in six schools. The Gr 12 tutoring project gives all learners the chance to attend tutoring in accountancy, English, mathematics and history.

The arts and culture project includes music, art, pottery, drama, puppetry and dance. Betsy Ryke heads up the music department and at present is working in seven schools. Marimba bands and steel pan bands have been developed, choirs formed and guitar and keyboard training offered.

Funding from a certain SA foundation, which affirms the importance of arts and culture in education, will enable the music programme to develop further and the long term plan is to expand into all the schools.

Morag Swanepoel has developed all the modules for the art programme and assists with curriculum intervention, classroom presentation, assessments, workshops, exhibitions and extra-mural classes, all the while taking into consideration the limited resources of most schools where even a pencil is a luxury item.

The Early Childhood Development programme, led by Gerda Wollheim and specialist trainers, addresses the need for early literacy and numeracy for Gr R teachers and learners in disadvantaged communities. Wollheim says it is essential to stimulate the children and inspire passion in educators.

Enlighten’s youth projects, overseen by Theo de Wet, include the junior town council, youth empowerment (Gr 10-12), post-school youth (18-35) and vocational training. Skills training is offered in the hospitality and construction industries and apart from technical training includes course in English, life skills, work-place ethics and personal presentation.

Enlighten is unique in that their programmes and projects are not delivered according to a formula.

The social projects include school counselling, headed by Alida Henning, who says: “I build relationships and I listen.” In this focus area there is also a special needs project and a feeding scheme.

Enlighten is unique in that their programmes and projects are not delivered according to a formula.

They respond to needs identified by the schools themselves and interventions are implemented to address specific individual situations until the schools can sustain the work unaided.

At the end of April, the Enlighten Education Trust’s new Integrated Education and Training Centre in Swartdam Road will be complete and all the trust’s education and training initiatives will operate from this central headquarters. The Sunshine Foundation, which is funding an integrated education and training project in Hermanus through Enlighten, has also financed the building of the new centre.

Kuiper thanked guests who attended the information evening and said that by being present “it is obvious that you too value the work we do”. He further added: “I had a dream nearly six years ago and this is what happened. I am here to say thank you. We have created something that has magic and is driven by passion, energy and commitment.”