Joint initiative to green the school

2020-01-28 06:00
Barbara Simoes, Anthea La Vita, Tono-Nazo (principal), Ian Kriel (deputy principal), Moegamat Isaacs and James Fernie (Harfield Village Association).

Barbara Simoes, Anthea La Vita, Tono-Nazo (principal), Ian Kriel (deputy principal), Moegamat Isaacs and James Fernie (Harfield Village Association).

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An old expression would have us believe that watching grass grow is not all that exciting but the learners at Rosmead Central Primary School (RCPS) beg to differ. They can’t wait for their sports field to be restored to its former green glory.

In partnership with the school, three organisations are to thank for this transformation: Uthando (Love) South Africa, the Harfield Village Association (HVA) and the Grow Africa Foundation.

James Fernie, the founding director of Uthando – a non-profit organisation linking the local and international tourism industry with community development projects – and chair of HVA, says they have developed a close relationship with the school over the past few years. 

To date, they have raised money to assist with the ongoing development of the school’s sports field and gardens which included the sinking of a wellpoint and repairs to its borehole.

“The school is part of our community and it is important that the school feels welcome and comfortable enough to reach out to the community for help when they need it,” says Fernie.

According to RCPS’s website, the school was established in 1940 under the auspices of the Coloured Affairs Department to serve the communities of Claremont, Kenilworth, Harfield and Lansdowne. With the implementation of the Group Areas Act and forced removals, the majority of the Rosmead community was displaced across the Cape Flats. Despite the distance, many parents continued to send their children there and today the school’s roll exceeds 700 learners from areas as far afield as Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Langa, Mitchell’s Plain and Manenberg. Being a commuter school, however, holds it challenges. 

RCPS, due to its location, is classified as a Quintile 5 school (schools that cater for the least poor 20% of learners) which means it receives much less funding per learner from the provincial education department than Quintile 1 to 3 schools. As a result, RCPS has a much smaller kitty to draw from. When it comes to maintaining school grounds and equipment, it is reliant on donations and sponsorships.

A few months ago, the school’s sports field was dry and dusty. Today, grass sprouts are starting to peek through the once sandy soil.

“The development is ongoing with plans for constant maintenance and improvement in the quality of grass and irrigation system,” says Fernie.

Just last week, lawn dressing was delivered to the school. The Grow Africa Foundation donated the R6 543.50 needed to cover the cost. 

This non-profit organisation is a responsible tourism initiative of Jenman Africa Safaris and Hideaways. Foundation’s Kudzai Ngwara, project coordinator of Grow says Uthando and HVA approached the foundation to donate to the sports field.

“We aim to empower communities around us, and Rosmead Central Primary School is within our community,” Ngwara says.

She says the rehabilitated sports field will encourage learners to engage in extra-mural activities at the school, leading to better health and the development of social skills such as teamwork, leadership and discipline. Companies and individuals who also responded to the call to assist were Oblivion, Natural Gardens, Ian and Jo Veary and Jaco Storm of Durr.

“This really has been a big team effort,” Fernie says.

The planting of 12 fast-growing indigenous trees – paid for by the HVA – around the field is next on the agenda. 

Fernie says they hope the trees will be in the ground by March this year, replacing the old bluegum trees currently growing on the edges of the field. 

“We are extremely concerned about the serious risk the bluegum trees pose to the children. Last year, one child died at a school in the Eastern Cape as a result of a branch that fell from a bluegum tree,” says Fernie.

There have already been instances of huge branches falling off the trees at the school. Luckily, no one has been hurt so far. Fernie says, in addition to the danger, the time and resources needed to keep the field clear of sharp twigs and bulky branches is immense. Last week alone it took two people two full days to remove the debris.

He is aware that the proposed removal of the bluegum trees will be a contentious issue in the community because he too is passionate about the environment. 

“But we need to have a long-term vision taken from an environmental point of view. The decent-sized, indigenous trees that we hope to replace the bluegums with will complement the field and its purpose.”

  •  To get involved or for more information, email Fernie on jamesfernie@uthandosa.org or visit www.uthandosa.org. 
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