IT has been nearly two years since Kwazakhele High School hit rock bottom – motivation was at an all-time low, and the matric pass rate was a dismal 38%.
But this has improved since the Port Elizabeth township school was adopted by the Rainbow Nation Club, an initiative which aims to promote racial harmony in South Africa.
Last year, the school recorded a 58% matric pass rate, and, academics aside, the next mission is to beautify the school premises.
Speaking at a business braai hosted in conjunction with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the National Metal Workers’ Union, the club’s director, Len Terblanche, who is also director of automotive supplying giant Schaeffler SA, said they hoped the pilot project would act as a guideline on how business could facilitate and assist in turning non-functional disadvantaged schools around.
"Our adoption is absolutely holistic with an intimate involvement in all aspects of the school, and not limited to financial support or donations,” he said.
As part of this holistic involvement, the club and Schaeffler employees will spend July 21 – three days after former president Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday – doing repair work at the school, including fixing fences and planting trees and grass.
"We will get the surrounding community, the pupils and the parents to join us in a day which will not only improve the facilities, but will also be a celebration of our Rainbow Nation. That will be our gift to Madiba,” Terblanche said.
Other services include a tutorial programme whereby science and education students tutor pupils, and pupil cell groups in which pupils who live close to one another watch educational DVDs at a host home.
The club was established last year by a group of employees at Schaeffler SA in Deal Party, Port Elizabeth.
Concerned employees saw all the racial tension between blacks and whites around the time of AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche’s murder and the singing of Dubula ibhunu (Shoot the Boer) and decided to do something about it.
Terblanche said they had received support from 40 companies in the region which belonged to the Rainbow Nation Club.
The school’s nutrition programme has also improved thanks to the initiative.