South Africa: 50 to a Class in Bishop Lavis Primary School

15 January 2020

Community and school come together to instill "values" in children

On the first day of school on Wednesday, teachers, learners, parents and religious leaders at Bergville Primary School in Bishop Lavis held a demonstration inside the gates calling to restore the values of the community.

"Nobody is going to do it for us. We have to do it for ourselves," said principal Aleem Abrahams. He said they had decided to "take ownership" of their own community.

Abrahams said that in order to achieve the goal of "functional schools" announced as the theme for 2020 by Brian Schreuder, Head of the Western Cape Department of Education, the school would choose one value per month and focus on incorporating it into the lesson plans and within the community. These values include respect, commitment, accountability and thankfulness. These words could be seen on the banners held by demonstrators.

"We do not want to send our little ones to any institution knowing that we did not try to at least instil the values here at school," said Abrahams. He said these values also had to be instilled at home and within religious institutions.

Abrahams said the school faced the same challenges as last year including overcrowding and crime. In 2019 parents and residents protested at the school calling for the Department of Education to help with overcrowding and crime. He said the school had been sent two extra educators and the security had been upgraded.

But, Abrahams said, some classes still had more than 50 learners.

The demonstration was organised by the Bishop Lavis Action Community (BLAC). Our communities need to take control of "the behaviour of their children", said Rodney Zeeberg, president of BLAC. He said that these values should be extended not only to the school but to the entire community. Zeeberg said people were "confronted with various social ills," which had to be addressed systemically. According to the 2019 crime stats, 144 people have been murdered in Bishop Lavis.

"As religious leaders, we have a responsibility to our community," said Wesley Moodley, a pastor in Bishop Lavis.

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