By Indhrannie Pillay
The Tholisu Secondary School in Mistake Farm, Umzinto on the KwaZulu Natal South Coast brings in the new school year with much needed change and improvement to their learning environment.
The school has been in existence since 1999 and accommodates approximately 250 students from grade 8 up to grade 11 in only four classrooms. However, after grade 11, pupils are forced to complete their matric year at an alternate high school or drop out of school as Tholisu is unable to accommodate the grade 12’s.
The principle of the school Thokozile Dlamini says, “The school was initially built with the idea of having two grade 8 and grade 9 classrooms. After a while parents expressed their concern that children have to travel out to schools in other areas to complete their senior secondary.” The teaching staff together with the community decided to use the existing four classrooms to have lessons for grade 8 to grade 11 learners. Each grade was allocated only one classroom.
“The classrooms are very cramped because there are about 60 to 70 children in one class. We manage to cater for the students up to grade 11, but unfortunately we don’t have a room for a matric class,” Dlamini says. This means that grade 11 graduates still have to travel to other high schools to complete their matric. “This is unfortunate because most of the people in the area are pensioners and do not have the money to pay for transport for their children to go to other schools. Some children are forced to abandon their education and sit at home.”
Until recently these children had no hope of completing their schooling career. Members of the Sathya Sai Organinsation in Umzinto and Park Rynie decided to adopt the school as their village upliftment project and bring much needed help and support to the school. Champa Maharaj, chairperson of the Umzinto Sai Centre says, “Just under a year ago we were identifying a needy area where we could have an eye clinic and we found this area. We used the school as a venue and then came to realise that there is much more we can do in this area. The most urgent was finding a venue for students going into matric.”
The Sathya Sai Organinsation raised enough funds through its members to put up an extra classroom in the school. “Members came together and built the classroom right from the foundations up to roof phase. What is heartening to note is the enthusiasm this project generated within the community. The school children and their parents assisted in ever which way they could,” says Maharaj.
According to Dlamini, “We are so excited and appreciative to these people for what they have done for our community. I was taken by surprise when they approached me and said that they will build a classroom for us free of charge and to know that they will be continuing to help us.”
The Sathya Sai Organinsation has adopted the school as an on going project and has assisted in the restoration and upliftment of the school. “We have fixed the taps on their water tanks, our youth have planted flower beds to brighten up the place and we are initiating a vegetable garden patch. The vegetables grown there will be used to service a soup kitchen for the students,” Maharaj says.
This year Tholisu High school proudly announced the registration of 30 students who will sit for the final matric examination in October/November 2008. This is indeed a huge achievement for the Mistake Farm community.