The Port St Johns Junior Secondary School was founded in the 1930s and is a fixed value of the Port St Johns community. The school is based in the centre of Port St Johns, which is what makes it highly accessible to the children of the town.
Over the past 15 years, the school has been led by Rian Erasmus, and under his supervision the school has grown to become what it is today: an established institution where children are nurtured to develop their skills and grow up to be well-educated adults.
The school consists of several classrooms, offering education from Grade R up to Grade 9. Apart from the normal curriculum, the school also offers computer lessons and after school care, providing the slow learners with extra support and learning possibilities. They employ fourteen teachers, who all receive a salary from the Department of Education. Apart from the teachers, there are three cooks who prepare lunch for the children and two handymen to maintain the property. However, the money the school receives from the Department of Education does not cover all their expenses and Rian and his staff rely on donations and fund raising to ensure the quality of their services.
The partnership with the ACP was established in 2015 and since the beginning of 2016 volunteers have been placed at the school, providing the teachers with extra helping hands in Grade R and Grade 1.
Thanks to the established partnership between EOS Internationale Freiwilligendienste and the Amapondo Children’s Project, at least one volunteer is placed at the school throughout the entire year. Our first Weltwaerts-volunteers arrived in November 2016 and they have been involved with teaching English and Life Skills to the children in Grade 4, Grade 5 and Grade 6.
At the start of the new school year (January 2017) the school implemented a new time table, allocating 6 periods a week to the volunteers. These 6 periods were made available in the curriculum to address Special Life Skills and the volunteers are responsible to fill in these hours with educational topics. These topics cover a wide range of different subjects, covering cultural education (e.g. the difference between growing up in Europe and South Africa), sports activities, health (e.g. personal hygiene, anatomy of the human body), life skills (e.g. self-esteem), career guidance (e.g. different professions, what do you want to become when you grow up) and many more. The volunteers prepare for their classes and keep an overview of topics they have discussed in class, to pass on to theirs successors. Apart from their allocated hours, the volunteers continue to assist the teachers where needed.
Although the partnership between the Port St Johns Junior Secondary School and the Amapondo Children’s Project is still young, the placement of volunteers at the school has had a significant impact over the past year. The presence of the volunteers allows the teachers to give more individual attention to the slow learners and exposes the children to new experiences and knowledge, offering the possibility to grow through cultural exchange.
Through a fund raising initiative of The Amapondo Children’s Project, The PSJ Junior Secondary School was able to repaint and renovate some of their existing classrooms. A team of volunteers and the members of the Rotary Club of Port St Johns helped with the renovation. The Amapondo Children’s Project is now aiming to raise sufficient funds in the next years to expand the school and build two new classrooms.
What has been happening so far in 2017? Thanks to a donation of the Rotary Club of Battersea London, we were also able to order new furniture for both schools and we look forward to receiving that delivery any moment now! For the Port St Johns Junior Secondary School we are getting a mobile library and 2 storage lockers, in which the children can put their bags and books away.
Unlike the Mthumbane Pre-Primary School, the PSJ Junior Secondary School has other resources they can draw on but collaborating with the Amapondo Children’s Project offers them a new resource of volunteers and funds and assists them to keep up with the high standard of education they strive for.
The Amapondo Children’s Project is now aiming to raise sufficient funds in the next years to expand the school and build two new classrooms. Although the collaboration is still young, both organisations look forward to continue to work together, aiming to improve the learning environment of the children in Port St Johns.