‘Learning Labs’ – helping teachers to teach and pupils to learn
Masicorp has an excellent relationship with Ukhanyo Primary School, which takes all 1,600 of the township’s children aged 6 to 14. Our involvement has included both improvements to the physical infrastructure through an ongoing makeover project and building teaching capacity. In addition we also provide English language support to children from Masiphumelele that attend nearby Fish Hoek Primary school.
With Masicorp’s assistance the school has developed science facilities that are a benchmark for township schools. The model developed to improve science teaching has been extended to English and computing with dedicated teaching facilities and classroom assistance. Many teachers are not confident and proficient in English and, although initial teaching is given in Xhosa, all teaching in later years is delivered in English and this can be a difficult transition for both students and staff. Future developments will concentrate on mathematics, which is an area of particular difficulty nationwide. Through partnerships with local businesses in Masiphumelele (The Sewing Cafe and Ndileka), Masicorp also provides school uniforms for those students whose parents cannot afford them.
With the help of our volunteers and fundraisers we have made great progress, but more remains to be done.
Our progress to date:
The 'Classroom makeover' project began in March 2013. It was recently completed and has resulted in all 35 of Ukhanyo school’s classrooms a safe becomming clean and stimulating learning environments for all pupils. The makeover has provided new learning equipment (e.g. new modern whiteboards to replace blackboards), repairs to broken windows/roofing and painting the walls in bright stimulating colours. Once the modern whiteboards were in place the old blackboards were transformed into a series of murals to encourage ownership of the upgraded facilities.moreIn addition the project also refurbished the management and administrative offices, as well as providing a permanent, appropriate space for the existing caretakers. The final step was to create a teachers resources room, where teachers for all grades can access the internet and other teaching resources more
Ukhanyo School's new 'Science Lab'
The Science Lab Project started in early 2011 with the objective of equipping the Science teachers of Ukhanyo Primary School with the confidence, skills and resources necessary to educate young scientists. The Project Leader, Fran Loudon, initiated this project and has committed 3 years as a full time volunteer.
This has been a highly successful collaborative project between Masicorp and the school. The results so far, in terms of performance results and teacher engagement, have provided a model of teacher support that will now be used in the new Language Lab in the school and a proposed Maths Lab. more
" To have a Science Lab was my dream as the principal of Ukhanyo but I did not know that my dream was going to come true. . . I used to visit Science Labs of different schools and think a Science Lab was something beyond our reach. Any parents who could, used to send their children to richer schools but now their mindset has changed because of the Ukhanyo Science Project. Our learners can do experiments for the first time in their life because before we could only give them theory instead of practical experiments. . . . what is happening in the Science Room is beyond my expectations. " - Mr Michael Tyhali, (Ukhanyo Primary School – Principal)
Helping Ukhanyo Primary School students learn English - 'The English Lab'
Masicorp has committed volunteers and resources to improving the quality of education at Masiphumelele’s Ukhanyo Primary School, but one of the biggest hurdles that the school faces is the low level of English literacy and fluency among teachers and students.
To help address this problem, Masicorp opened the ‘English Lab’ at Ukhanyo Primary School in January 2012. The project is led by an American volunteer Jan O’Connor and her able assistant, Zimkhita Kapaayi. Modelled after our successful ‘Science Lab’, the English Lab focuses on providing teachers at Ukhanyo with the skills and resources that they need in order to teach English effectively. more
Our ‘Masifunde’ initiative also develops the English skills of our learners during the early stages of their primary education. Although initial teaching is given in Xhosa, all teaching in later years is delivered in English and this can be a difficult transition for both students and staff. This programme is delivered with support from the Wordworks programme who supply a range of teaching materials and guidance to our volunteers.
Helping Ukhanyo Primary School students learn Maths - 'The Maths Lab'
The Maths Lab is a refurbished classroom in Ukhanyo School, where we will be attempting to raise the quality of the learning experience for teachers and learners from Grade 4 onward. Masicorp is very fortunate to have Scott and Laurie Smith to lead the project. Scott is a qualified engineer and mathematics teacher, who has taught maths from elementary to high school level in the United States. Scott and Laurie have designed an open learning space with re-usable teaching aids, which Ukhanyo teachers will have access to for maths classes. Just as with the Science Lab, the aim is teach the teachers so that the facilty becomes a sustainable resource for the school.moreRead about the Maths Lab Project and it's results more
Improving the facilities for physical education
Masicorp provides a sports coach, Nceba Jonas, and sports equipment to the school, including kits for the soccer, netball and cricket teams. We also provide funding for various essential physical education equipment that is used to keep the students fit and healthy, while allowing them to participate in team sports. Masicorp also provides funding for transport to tournaments for the teams that the school organizes. However, the school sports field is in a terrible condition, and in places it is an uneven sandpit filled with rubble and broken glass. Masicorp have drawn up plans for a complete renovation. The first stage has been to level the field, remove the rubble and prepare it for the construction of a multi-purpose sports field that can be used for netball, soccer and cricket.
This is now complete and attention has turned to phase II, which involves the laying of turf and completion of a running track. The all-weather running track that has been laid as part of Phase I has been a great success. We are also grateful for the support of the local community in helping to maintain the new facility more
We offer a free school uniform to any youngster at the Ukhanyo Primary School whose parents cannot afford to buy one - 100 or so uniforms a year. We started doing this in 2005 after a large shack fire deprived hundreds of families of everything they owned. In addition to this we have also provided students with tracksuits to wear over their uniforms during the winter months. The tracksuits have been made locally thanks to the support of several donors from the United States and UK. more
Helping Fish Hoek Primary School students with English - 'English Please!'
Some students from Masiphumelele are fortunate enough to be accepted at local English-medium schools in more affluent areas. Although their long term prospects are massively improved by this, learners often struggle initially because of their poor English skills. We provide additional teaching that allows them to quickly catch up with the other students. The program ensures that the new learners quickly master English, which improves their learning and also helps them to integrate into life outside the township. more