Over 900 learners from six farm schools in Mpumalanga are now being schooled in a state-of-the-art boarding school. The Steve Tshwete Boarding School situated in Somaphepha village has an administration block, 28 classrooms, a computer centre, laboratory, kitchen, dining and multi-purpose hall, dormitories for boys and girls, multi-purpose sport grounds, netball courts and soccer field, among other things.
MEC of Education Reginah Mhaule said the opening of the school signals the beginning of a working relationship between the community, municipality and the department. The school was built to address the challenges experienced by learners and teachers from small farm and multi-grade schools.
So far the province has five boarding schools, namely Shongwe, Izimbali, Ezakheni, Emakhazeni and Steve Tshwete. They are no-fee schools where learners receive four meals per day. They do not pay for their school uniform which is also laundered for them. “This school is part of government endeavours to guarantee quality education to learners from rural areas and those that live below the breadline.
“The boarding school intends to decrease the learners dropout rate and other social ills such as teenage pregnancy and, most significantly, to provide a safe haven for children from farm areas,” said MEC Mhaule. She encouraged the community to show an interest in the affairs of the school and protect it. “I would expect that we do everything possible to protect and preserve the school. This school must always stand as the legacy of the democratic order and true centre for community growth and development.”
She added that the school can play a role in developing the community only if commitment and quality teaching takes place. “This can only be done if excellence, efficiency and extra commitment for teaching and learning programmes could be the order of the day.” She challenged parents also to support children in their school work.
“I request all parents and guardians to heed the call for compulsory education. Let us also mitigate the challenge of learner dropout.… This we can achieve by supporting our learners in all schooling activities.” School principal Matsobane Lebelo said the new facilities will make education exciting for the learners. “All these facilities will massively improve the quality of education and it will inculcate the culture of wanting to know more,” said Lebelo.