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New boarding school, new possibilities

Written by Samona Naidu
A new R189 million stateof- the-art boarding school is changing the lives of learners and families in Mpumalanga by catering for orphans, vulnerable children and those from child-headed homes.

Learners at the new state-of-the-art boarding school in Mpumalanga share their joy over the new facilities with Premier David Mabuza.Thanks to the new Izimbali Combined Boarding School, learners from Amsterdam and surrounding areas, no longer have to walk long distances to get to school or go hungry because there is no food at home.

Worrying about how to cope without electricity or clean water is also a thing of the past for these learners.

Izimbali, which means flowers, now houses learners from the neighbouring Idalia, Thokomala, Zandspruit, Lithole, Riverbend, Broadholm, Westoe, Nongena and Samlee villages.

Not only are learners being educated at a fully functioning school but they also have a home to go to at the end of the school day, with a comfortable bed, bathrooms, hot showers and a kitchen that supplies them with three meals a day.

According to the province’s spokesperson, Zibonele Mncwango, the name fits the design and beauty of the boarding school that was handed over by Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza recently.

“The school was built following a promise made by the premier to phase out multigraded and unsafe schools in the province.” Izimbali is one of four boarding schools established in the province to ensure that learners from rural communities including farms, are able to access the quality education they deserve.

Construction of the school started in 2012 and it now boasts 24 spacious classrooms, a science laboratory, library, computer centre and dormitories.

What makes the school different, says Premier Mabuza, is that learners finally have a home, food in their stomachs and are safe. Many learners also used to help their families herd cattle because their parents In an effort to improve the mathematics and science results of South African learners, the Department of Basic Education is drawing on the experiences of China. The two countries will strengthen educational ties after an implementation plan was recently signed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Chinese Minister of Education.

Learners at the new state-of-the-art boarding school in Mpumalanga share their joy over the new facilities with Premier David Mabuza.South Africa will look to learn lessons from China in curriculum development, mathematics, science, technology as well could not afford to send them to school. “This is why it was so important to build the school near the farms,” he said. The new no-fee school is part of the province’s Corporate Rural Development Programme, which is ensuring that vulnerable children, such as orphans and those from child-headed families, are given the required support and a new lease on life through education. “As the country celebrates 20 Years of Freedom and democracy, we are giving the freedom of education to these children. We believe that no child should be deprived of education. These children now have a chance at a better future,” said Premier Mabuza.

The new school, which accommodates learners from Grade R to 12, has opened up a world of knowledge and possibilities for learners who walk through its doors. Many of the learners had never even read a library book before but now have a lifetime of stories at their disposal.

“My favourite part of the school is the library. The books are all new and not torn or dirty. I love reading so I go there in my free time. I would sleep there if I could,” said an eight-year-old learner.

With not many school uniforms in their wardrobe, many of the older learners would go home from school to wash their uniforms and that of their siblings.

This is no longer a concern for learners as they each have new uniforms and the school boasts an impressive laundry facility. “This allows children to be children and solely focus on enjoying learning, playing sport and concentrating on their schoolwork,” said Mncwango.