One year ago Nsimbini Primary School, based in Chesterville, Cato Manor celebrated the opening of their new R6 million facilities.
The facilities included the development of four newly built classrooms (with two classrooms built specifically for Grade R pupils), toilet facilities for Grade R pupils and pupils with physical disabilities, a state-of-the-art full service centre for pupils with educational difficulties and an amphitheatre.
Prior to this development, Nsimbini Primary School was overcrowded and had very few facilities and had to make use of a wooden cabin as a make-shift classroom to house over 60 Grade R pupils. At the time, they had a total of over 1000 pupils from Grade R to Grade Seven, with an average of 40 to 50 pupils per classroom and just 31 teachers.
“The community of Chesterville and Cato Manor is one that has very little access to resources and most of the people that stay here are unemployed and cannot afford school fees and transportation fees to send their children to schools in other areas. This meant that we had an overcrowding issue as they all sent their children to us” says Nsimbini Primary School Principal, Mr. Bhekuyise Ndlovu.
Mr. Ndlovu, who was born in Chesterville and attended Christopher Nxumalo Primary in the community, went onto say “Thanks to the contributions from KZN Department of Education and Suncoast for the construction of extra facilities, we have been able to take on a few more learners and focus on our core business, which is the development and education of our youth”.
Currently, Nsimbini Primary School accommodates 1091 pupils from all grades and has 32 full-time teachers educating an average of 31 students per class. The wooden cabin, which was used as a make-shift class room is now used as a storeroom for tables, chairs and other materials.
“At the moment we have 62 Grade R pupils between the two classrooms, and they are enjoying being in an actual classroom. Since moving into the classrooms we have noticed that the pupils are more engaging, eager to learn and are really enjoying themselves” says Grade R Teacher, Mrs. Mfeka.
The additional two classrooms built accommodate a total of 98 pupils from Grade 3 & 4 with the HOD office (attached to the building) accommodating Social Work students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal every year, thanks to an internship/agreement between the Primary School and UKZN.
“As you can imagine, some of the pupils that we have in the school come from poverty stricken families and are prone to violence and other bad things that as children they should not be exposed to. So we are thankful to UKZN that every year from July to November we have students who study social work and are able to come and consult with the children as we are unqualified to do so as teachers” says Mr. Ndlovu.
The state-of-the-art full service centre for children with learning difficulties, since being built has been used to facilitate annual eye tests for all pupils in the school and is operating at 50% capacity.
“We are using the centre to also train our teachers on how to deal with some Grade R pupils with learning difficulties. At this moment in time we are awaiting the employment of a fully trained and qualified counsellor and an administrator in order to get the centre up and running at full capacity” says Mr. Ndlovu.
Thanks to the building of the amphitheatre, the school is able to host morning assembly, and accommodate pupils during lunch. The amphitheater has also assisted the local community in hosting their monthly community meetings.
“The creation of these facilities has not only benefited the school but has also benefited the community, the full service centre is used by the community for all children with learning difficulties and on Sundays, we have various churches within the community using our classes for services” says Mr. Ndlovu.
Nomanisa Maxhakane is the grandmother of two grandchildren who attend Nsimbini Primary School – one in Grade R and one in Grade 4.
“I am so grateful that Nsimbini Primary School received extra classrooms,” Maxhakane says. “My grandchild in Grade 4 has shown tremendous improvement since her class moved into the new classrooms. They are now able to learn and take part in class activities in a decent environment. The class size is also so much better – before there was one big Grade R class – now there are two. We really appreciate the amazing work done.”
One year on, SUNCOAST Executive Director, Mike Dowsley said, “It is great to see children laughing, reading and learning. We are extremely glad to see the huge difference these facilities have made and the pride that these children have today and we look forward to watching them develop and grow into future captains of various industries. We are proud to be a part of this school and community and look forward to continuing to share such experiences within the Chesterville district”.
SUNCOAST first came to hear and visit Nsimbini Primary School in 2011, through Vukukhanye, a non-profit and public benefit organization formed in 2002. Headed by CEO, Dr. Anthony van der Meulen, Vukukhanye is SUNCOAST’s main CSI beneficiary through, SUNCOAST funding. Vukukhanye runs the Bursary Project and other community projects and initiatives.
“You know, it is evidently clear that there is a world of a difference to Nsimbini Primary School. The children have beaming smiles and so do the educators, it is great that such organisations care enough to not only do something about it but also exceed the call of duty”, says Vukukhanye CEO, Dr Anthony van der Meulen.