From historic to state-of-the-art: Modern structures for the Botha's Halte rural school in Worcester

The school on the outskirts of Worcester has been transformed into a state-of-the-art facility.
The school on the outskirts of Worcester has been transformed into a state-of-the-art facility.

The historic community school on the outskirts of Worcester, Botha's Halte Primary School, has been transformed into a state-of-the-art facility.

In April 2019 the Western Cape Minister of Education, Debbie Schäfer, inaugurated the opening of the newly constructed establishment at Botha’s Halte Primary School.

The original school was founded in 1920 and was known as "Anna Zaal". Consisting of a single hall, it served as the first school building on the property and was restored as the new reception area for the school.

The new establishments can accommodate about 240 learners, which is roughly double its former capacity, and learners are accommodated in a single stream from Grade R to Grade 7.

Digital is the focus

A focus has been placed on making digital technology available throughout the teaching spaces. All the classrooms are equipped with the latest technology, such as e-beams that are connected to the internet.

Minister Schäfer says the school has contributed greatly to the cutting-edge demonstration of technology and how it can be utilised to reach and contribute to quality education in the rural areas of South Africa.

Supplied by Bothas Halte

Also Read: How a tiny rural village came together to build a top Cape high school

Behind the design

The architectural firm Meyer & Associates, a practice with an extensive range of national education sector projects under its belt, is responsible for the exquisite design of the new building.

Architect Tiaan Meyer says the Botha's Halte school design "applied ecological and sustainability principles. These considerations influenced the architectural form of the buildings, but are also made visible throughout the complex and as such form part of the teaching and educational processes."

The interiors of the building are very light and bright, with an abundance of colour to stimulate the creativity of learners, and the furniture and equipment have intentionally been selected with this design in mind.

Supplied by Bothas Halte

What are the different establishments?

The school now has an auditorium-type multipurpose hall, two specialist classrooms with sewing machines, handwork and woodwork equipment, as well as a science laboratory.

There is a Discovery Centre, where learners gather in small groups under the "tree-of-knowledge columns" which form a heart. There is also an area that serves as a break-out space from the adjacent classrooms, for group work or individual teaching.

Here you will find multi-media equipment, computers, a screened-off audio-visual area, and good old-fashioned library books.

External elements of the school include two Astroturf play areas and a more formal and competitive play with stepped spectator seating, and a play area for the younger learners includes a secure and intimate exploratory play space. 

The built-in play equipment has been custom designed for educational purposes.

 Supplied by Bothas Halte

A lemon tree orchard and a productive vegetable garden will eventually supply the school feeding scheme and nearby estate restaurant, Bosjes Kombuis.

A large rugby field/soccer pitch is also planned, which would be shared with the broader community after hours and over weekends.

Environmentally friendly elements

From an environmental perspective, the new solar and wind generator capacity allow the buildings to function largely independent of the electrical Eskom grid, while rain and storm water is harvested for irrigation and kept in a large reservoir under the school buildings.

The reservoir is topped up by a borehole and with clean, treated effluent from a sewerage package plant.

Minister Schäfer says the school has changed many lives. "I have witnessed firsthand how schools can change communities' attitudes towards education and decrease learner drop-out and apathy. They give the learners and their communities hope."

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