For the first time in its history, Struisbaai in the Western Cape has a post-primary school education offering, thanks to a newly launched R36 million skills facility.
This was made possible by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and the Struisbaai SOS Funding Trust, which collaborated to develop an extension of Struisbaai Primary School that offers civil maintenance and food production courses.
The Struisbaai SOS Funding Trust is a privately funded community trust that was established to find viable solutions to help the youth of Struisbaai build and develop their own economically viable future within the town.
Resident and SOS board trustee Rev Franziska Andrag-Meyer says the project was started as a result of the alarmingly high school dropout rate.
“Struisbaai has no high school. After finishing primary school, learners have to commute to Bredasdorp or Napier for further schooling.”
These towns are 34.8km and 49km away, respectively.
Andrag-Meyer says that the trust decided to enter into partnership with Struisbaai Primary to add a skills facility for learners 15 years and older.
“The trust searched for donations from private and corporate donors, educational trusts and individuals to raise 60% of the R36 million, while the WCED paid the other 40%. We also took responsibility for the construction, with appropriate government inspections and oversite. The trust also now appoints 50% of the school governing body; the other 50% comprises parents, teachers and staff who are elected and appointed as in any other government school,” explains Andrag-Meyer.
The facility’s civil maintenance component includes welding, metalwork, woodwork, plumbing, electrical work, motor mechanics, glasswork and building; the food production division will focus on hospitality.
A future filled with hope
Speaking at the official opening of the facility, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said: “The opening of this facility is aligned with our province’s commitment to skills education. This is critical in ensuring that all of our learners have an opportunity to develop the skills they need to participate meaningfully in our economy.”
The chosen 27 learners started their schooling at Onse Hoop community centre in January, but have since moved to the new facility.
“This is only the starting point. We expect to be at full capacity of 120 learners in 2024,” says Andrag-Meyer, adding that an academic curriculum for at least Grades 8 and 9 might be implemented in the future.