Future Achievers Academy makes a difference in the here and now

| September 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY TREVOR LANGEVELD AND MARIE BOTMA

Middelburg, in Mpumalanga province, was established in 1864 as Nasareth.

Today it is a large farming and industrial town, with an approximate population of 278 000. It is also the site of the Botshabelo Historical Village1 and the equally historically significant Doornkop,2 both of which have been eclipsed by the township of Mhluzi and the outer suburbs of Mineralia, Nasareth and Rockdale. These communities include a large contingent of migrants, due to the numerous industries and mines in the vicinity. Our learners travel a fair distance from these outlying communities and arrive very early at Future Achievers Academy.

Learners must be fed before they can learn

Seventeen years ago, two former teachers decided there was a need to start a quality school for the ever-increasing population of the outlying communities of Mhluzi, Doornkop, Mineralia and Nasareth. Parents and caregivers travel early to the industries, mines and farms, and their children require a learning environment with a difference. This difference is seen in the care the school has taken in providing a varied and stimulating life to the learners and staff alike from the onset. The school fees compare favourably with other private and public schools in the area, and no extra fees are asked to cover the additional costs of the feeding scheme, aftercare and homework programme. The school has always believed in catering to the needs of the hungry first thing in the morning (the communities around the schools are impoverished), to have learners energised and alert in classes. Apart from a complete breakfast, break-time tea and sandwiches, a cooked lunch, soft drinks and fruit are provided every day to each learner until 17:00. There are three educators on duty until 17:00 each afternoon.

Steady growth provides an interesting challenge

In 2000, the school enrolled four learners in a rented house. By 2013, we had 400 learners at our current premises within the central business district of Middelburg. Our biggest challenge has been providing enough classrooms for the extra classes in all our grades. We were fortunate to obtain the premises of the first English medium primary school (opened in 1936) in Middelburg and to form a relationship with a landlord of cover story Independent Education • Spring 17 27 considerable vision and insight, who has upgraded the buildings and grounds to a high standard. All our learners come from communities where only their traditional home language is spoken, so we have had to overcome a language barrier in our preschool and Grade 1 by recruiting assistant teachers to aid the educator in transferring the required content. With our progressive and proactive approach towards providing an excellent standard of education, the school currently provides relevant, meaningful and challenging education to 468 learners in an environment of mutual dignity and respect. We provide a disciplined and purposeful school environment within the parameters of the rights and responsibilities of all our stakeholders, achieving open communication, cooperation, consensus and tolerance with all involved.

School provides much-needed employment

Apart from a feeding scheme and addressing the outlying community needs, we provide employment for 40 staff. In the foundation phase, we employ “retired” teachers with over 40 years’ experience each, with an assistant to interpret from local language to English and Afrikaans. A cadre of competent kitchen staff, grounds staff and cleaners, also from the local community, are employed, and every staff member is allowed to have their children at the school at an 80% discount on fees. We are currently in the process of upgrading the school communications system, both in the offices and classrooms, thereby giving us broader access to Wi-Fi. We are trying to obtain a large modified container to secure stores and accommodate our tuck shop, thereby freeing up valuable space to provide for additional classrooms and shared staff offices.

Being independent linked to appreciating ISASA

We value our independence greatly, as we are able to interpret our own version of the national curriculum. We extract from it the best values and characteristics and add to it on various levels, thereby ensuring that we continuously strive to perfect an educational service to the communities that speaks to each and every need that we encounter. We also appreciate the values of ISASA, and the fact that the organisation is so well versed and competent in its services to its members. Although we have only recently joined, ISASA’s services have been indispensable to us so far.

Marie Botma is principal and Trevor Langeveld is viceprincipal at Future Achievers Academy.

References:
1. See, for example: http://www.southafrica.net/za/en/articles/entry/articlesouthafrica. net-botshabelo-mission-station
2. See, for example: http://middelburginfo.com/history/history-of-middelburg

 

Category: Spring 2017

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