Corporate social investment lifts one ISASA school gratefully into the next phase of development

By Maureen King

Nestled in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains lies the small community of Matatiele.

Apart of this community, St Monica’s Diocesan School has grown from very humble beginnings to become a key player in the educational environment of Matatiele, providing schooling for 628 learners from Grade 000 to Grade 9.

Because the school serves a previously disadvantaged community, there is a need to keep fees as low as possible. Fee income has thus been insufficient to allow for major infrastructure development. In addition, because the school was started in a disused church in a residential area, space for development has been very limited. However, significant growth and development has taken place. This is due to a combination of important factors, one of which is the role that corporate funding has played at St Monica’s.

In 1994, Anglo American sponsored R35 000 to fund the initial development of the school. Then, in 1998, Anglo American and De Beers together donated R160 000 to the school for further development. Most recently, in March 2010, St Monica’s was awarded a grant of R2.5 million by the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund for the infrastructure development necessary to start our Further Education and Training (FET) phase. The grant was used to fund the building of six classrooms, a computer laboratory, a new staff and girls’ ablution block and the renovation of the boys’ ablution block. The entire project is nearing completion.

What has this most recent grant meant for our school?

Parents have long begged the school to introduce the FET phase. We have now been able to say a resounding ‘yes’ to that request, as most of the basic infrastructure necessary for the phase is now in place. Our first Grade 10 classes will start in 2012.

Before receiving this grant, the school set aside funds for building each year, as we built one classroom at a time. Those funds can now be channelled elsewhere, e.g:

  • The school has been able to purchase 32 new computers for our computer laboratory, all with internet access. This will make a huge difference to our learners, many of whom do not have computers at home.
  • We have been able to allocate funds for the purchase of more property so as to continue to grow and develop the school.
  • We will soon be purchasing another school vehicle for the transport of learners.
  • We have been able to purchase much-needed resources for classroom teaching.

As a low-fee independent school, we have never allowed the lack of resources or facilities to deter us. The provision of these very necessary facilities, however, has definitely provided us with a wonderful ‘boost’ and will impact the quality of our service and the lives of our children for good. To all low-fee independent school Principals: there are corporate funders out there willing to invest in quality schools. The rewards of receiving this kind of sponsorship far outweigh any effort that goes into the application process, and our precious children are the ultimate beneficiaries!

Maureen King is Principal at St Monica’s Diocesan School.

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Category: Winter 2011

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