DESPITE no running water and pit toilets, a never-say-die, yet nurturing attitude has made a local farm school a beacon of hope for primary school learners.Since Bodker Public School, situated at Pabala Private Nature Reserve since 1996, first opened its doors in 1938 at Bodker informal settlement, the school morphed into a phenomenon that has changed the lives of thousands of learners for the better over eight decades.Set among fynbos, mountains, and aloes, the school boasts real success stories of children from unpromising backgrounds who have gone on to become news presenters, police inspectors, teachers, electricians and businessmen. Three such learners are Aphakama Katoo, Mzonke Katoo and Mzwamandoola Grootboom. Head of Department and Grades 1 and 2 teacher, Thozama Mntambo, says the secret to the school’s success is that the children - mostly the sons and daughters of farm workers - feel cared for, respect God, and believe in good, old-fashioned hard work. “As well as prayer, discipline and dedicated teachers,” says Mntambo.“I am very proud of our children. They do not disappoint us.” Bodker Public School According to Mntambo, the multi-grade school - grade R, grades 1 and 2, grades 3 and 4, and grades 5, 6 and 7 - is currently home to 98 learners from farms in Hankey, Loerie, Standerton and surrounding areas, who are all transported to school by taxis.There are four teachers, including the principal, as well as an administration clerk.“Despite it being a multi-grade school, complicating class-learning, the teachers do their utmost to teach the children to the best of their abilities,” sas Mntambo.This is evident in the school’s above ave-rage pass rate. Help needed According to Mntambo, the biggest problem they are facing currently are bees in all of the classrooms.“We are at our wits end,” she says. “The bees were removed several times before, but they keep coming back.“We have closed several holes in the roof with material in an attempt to keep the bees out, but this only works to a certain degree.“A permanent solution would be wonderful.” Also on their wish list are products and ingredients to make breakfast for learners. “We currently serve lunch on a daily basis, but it would be wonderful if we could serve breakfast as well,” says Mntambo.“No child can learn on an empty stomach.”The school is furthermore in need of kitchen utensils, including pots, pans, cutlery and dishes. Also high on their priority list is educational material for the learners. For more information, or to assist the school, contact Principal Ntombexolo Kilani at 073 603 0325 or Mntambo at 076 125 5731.