Kobe Ramokgadi Advanced Learning Academy joins ISASA

| August 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Sabelo Junior Dlamini

Kobe Ramokgadi Advanced Learning Academy, located in Ezulwini, between Manzini and Mbabane in Swaziland, was the brainchild of Geoffrey Ramokgadi, the director.

The idea to open the school was conceived on the very day in 1995 (17 January) when the city of Kobe, Japan, was hard-hit by an earthquake1 – and we decided to commemorate the event by including the city’s name in our school’s name.

When the school started operating in 2012, we only had 54 learners, and we started with Grade 8 and Grade 9 only. There were only two classes and only 15 learners in each class. This year, we will see our first class of 40 students matriculate under the leadership of principal Thuli Makgatho.

Imperative to be part of ISASA and IEB

The school offers the Independent Examination Board (IEB) examinations. This has been a drawcard for most of the learners in the school. The majority of learners in our 350-strong cohort come from either Manzini or Mbabane.

For us to network with other independent schools, it was imperative to be part of ISASA, and we joined the organisation on 1 June 2015. It took us some time to make sure that we complied with ISASA’s rigorous requirements in keeping with the quality, values and diversity that characterise its membership.

We are now well prepared to work hand-in-hand with ISASA, and we look forward to deriving the many benefits we have noted on the association’s website.

Overcoming trying times

As a new entity, our two major challenges were establishing trust with our community and finding funding. Most parents and communities at large judge a school by its external results – hence, when we started, we had only 54 learners, since we did not have a track record.

As time has passed, we have tried to implement the best policies and procedures as we navigated the national curriculum. Our teachers have joined all available IEB subject-specific conferences and meetings – some local and some in South Africa.2 The IEB has also visited our school a number of times to further empower our teachers regarding the curriculum and issues regarding testing and examination.

Our financial position at the beginning was not favourable; some teachers even had to leave us within the first year. But we have stood the test of time, and we are proud to make mention of those staff members who have been with us since inception. Our teachers are drawn from a wide geographic perspective: we have about 60% Swazi teachers, with the others from countries such as Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

Ready to weather any storm

The Ramokgadi family funded the school to the best of its ability. Today, we require that parents pay fees, ranging from R20 000 to R24 000 per annum. So far we have welcomed and sponsored 20 learners who could not afford the fees.

Throughout the year, we hold a number of events to raise funds to cover these learners’ fees. To assist a larger group of students, we have instituted our own transport system, which runs between the school and the two major cities in Swaziland.

The school continues to do its fair share to expose the learners to extracurricular activities and field trips to broaden their connections to the curriculum and the world. In the beginning, it was quite a challenge to convince both internal and external stakeholders that involvement in sports would enhance overall student development.

After the Kobe catastrophe, a poet wrote: “Reality does not conform/to earthquake emergency plans.” Over the years at Kobe Ramokgadi Advanced Learning Academy, we have had a lot of practice in balancing expectations with reality. Thus, we believe that we shall prosper in the end.

References:

1. The 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, commonly referred to as the Kobe earthquake, was one of the most devastating earthquakes ever to hit Japan; more than 5 500 were killed and over 26 000 injured. (Source: http://www.ce.washington.edu/~liquefaction/html/quakes/kobe/ kobe.html.)
2. See: http://www.ieb.co.za/School/usergroups.php.

Category: Spring 2015

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