Pupils and teachers at Khulani Secondary School in Langa have dealt with excruciating hardships over the years, including break-ins, vandalism and incompetent facilities that effect the quality of teaching. Through GrandWest’s School’s Renovation Programme, Khulani was identified as a school that was not only in dire need, but one that harboured great potential.
In a heartfelt speech, Nomhle ‘Hlehle’ Mkhusane, Consumer Studies teacher at the school for 20 years, revealed how the subject was almost removed from the school curriculum due to lack of classroom equipment. It became a struggle for her to impart her knowledge on the field in which she is so passionate, to her students.
During an emotional period of feeling despondent and despair, The School’s Renovation Programme came through as a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. The programme is focused on upgrading Hospitality Studies classrooms at schools in underprivileged communities, with the aim to properly equip learners for pursuing further studies and careers in hospitality. After battling to find local chefs, Sun International partnered with the Department of Education to nurture young chefs from disadvantaged backgrounds.
This endeavour is part of Sun International’s initiative of Creating Shared Value – a globally applied model that focuses on aligning business needs with the needs of society. In doing so, it creates shared value for all, alongside genuine and sustainable community development.
General Manager at GrandWest, Mr M Naidoo stresses how schools are not only selected based on monetary criteria, but rather through a lens of drive and perseverance. “We look at who’s passionate, who yearns for the outcome, who needs funding to make a difference”. It is clear through many moving and meaningful speeches that Khulani upholds these characteristics.
Through the programme, teachers and members of the governing body were taken on a journey of transformation. Numerous meetings, presentations and negotiations led to the outcome of the revamped classroom officially being handed over to the school on 18 May 2017. The classroom boasts new stoves, crockery, cooking utensils and fridges. Industrial tables and cupboards have also been installed, as well as many other aesthetic improvements. But the transformation runs deeper than just a physical level. The new classroom has boosted teacher’s and learner’s self-esteem in the subject, says Hlehle. “It is not a subject, it is wealth in their hands. They can change their backgrounds through the gift given here today”.
This philosophy extends beyond the classroom and even deeper into the Langa community. The school yearns to remedy its tumultuous relationship with youth in the area. Many break-ins and vandalism are the product of a collective moral disdain for education as an institution. Khulani aims to rebuild a culture where the school is once again a sacred and respected place in the community. Instead of coming to school to buy time and for the sake of it, they want their learners to want to be there. They aim to cultivate a passion and ambition in their students, and enrich their lives, rather than merely assigning a workload.
The school believes that through the proper facilities and educational environment given to them, they can now achieve this goal. They have already seen a sparked interest in the subject from their learners, which makes for a positive combination. With the right attitude from students and revived spirit of teachers, Khulani Secondary School has the potential for tremendous growth and spectacular achievements.
A touching quote by the school’s principal left a lasting impression: “Being a teacher is like being a burning candle – someone who will change their shape, reduce and diminish themselves for the purpose of bringing light to others”.
It is evident that GrandWest’s corporate and social investment in the school has provided a stepping stone for teachers to fulfil this obligation with confidence.
Photography Alfonso Stoffels