The School of Hope is a place of learning where we value HOPE FAMILY TRANSFORMATION RESPONSIBILITY AND GIVING. We are education-junkies, sold out to breaking the cycle of crime, poverty and unemployment by giving every person the chance to complete their education. There is nothing more important that we can do for South Africa today!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dutch Connections!

What a joy it was to host 31 Dutch students and their teachers from Sint Maartens School in Holland. For a whole week they made our library their home and spent every waking moment doing things to improve our school building.

They also taught us a dance, introduced us to the 1Billion Rising campaign against women abuse and gave us a taste of Holland – teaching the Consumer Studies classes to make delicious waffles.

One of the great projects they tackled was the planting of an indoor hanging garden (right). This ingenious idea has added much needed green to our indoor premises.
Global Exploration made it possible for learners at the School of Hope and those from Sint Maartens to gain experience through a cultural exchange. Their mission is simply to make making a difference in the world.

They excitedly and passionately came to paint the school, teach lessons and immerse themselves into a different culture, confronting the realities facing Cape Town’s youth. Their hope is that this experience would give their learners a fresh perspective on life, and impact our learners as well.

Our learners reflected on this experience as follows:

“They were kind and different to what I expected. We will miss having them here. They felt like family. Mikhail Adonis” (Grade 8)

“We had such a lovely time sharing with the learners and learning about their country and culture. Having them make our school colorful with all the painting has changed the atmosphere and we are truly thankful for their contribution. They became a part of our school family and the bond we formed with them will remain in our hearts.” Natasha Damons and Shireen Hendricks (Grade 11)

“It was a great experience as the students breathed new life into the school and inspired all of us to not give up, no matter the situations we find ourselves in. They showed us how to work together and that hard work makes a difference.” Marshalino Jankowski (Grade 9)

Thank you Global Explorations for this connection. We enjoyed meeting and getting to know our new Dutch family!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On Safari!

Thirty learners and staff were treated a five-star safari at Buffelsfontein on the West Coast, care of Be a Blessing.

Be a Blessing exists to give young people the opportunity to experience 4X4 adventure outings. This year they organized a truly remarkable safari experience for our learners on Buffelsfontein farm.

The learners had the following to say:

Asheeqah Brown (Grade 10): I had an amazing experience on the trip. It’s not every day that we get such great opportunity to see the animals out there, to know what they eat where they live and what species they belong to. I wouldn’t mind going on another trip like that again because it was awesome!

Ashton Groove (Grade 8): It was very nice to see Rhinos and Ostriches, also Buffalos and Red Lions and to drive past the Cheetah.   We also saw the Zebras Springbok and the Wildcat. There were a lot of wild animals.

Nawaal Hanslow (Grade 9): The Be a Blessing trip was amazing, I really enjoyed it. It was an opportunity for me to see animals; the tour guide explained at each stop about their habitat and uniqueness. I would like to go with my family one day .

Morgan Martins (Grade 11): What I learned on the Be a Blessing trip is that so many animals are endangered, particularly the Rhinos, who are being killed for their horns, which can gradually lead to their extinction. But most of all, I learnt that animals in their wild are special in their own ways.
Siphesihle Mzukwa (Grade 11): We learnt about things we didn’t know about. Things like Rhino poaching and how the nature reserves work. After the trip I thought about studying Nature Conservation. I am thankful and grateful to the people who offered us with this kind of opportunity.

Be a Blessing relies on sponsors to put together trips like these. The Buffelsfontein safari was made possible by owner Paul Loubser who put his farm and game viewing vehicles at our disposal. Arora Superspar and their manager Odette, took care of our learners and staff throughout the day. As usual, a satisfying lunch was served.

El Josa bus service sponsored the transport to Buffelsfontein, and the Be a Blessing drivers were generous with their time and hospitality.

Thank you Kobus Meyer and Be a Blessing. You certainly live up to your name.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Confronting the Dragon

How did Daryn Jones, our social worker, get 15 of our learners to volunteer to be trained by SANCA as peer counselors at School of Hope?

Photo by Masixole Feni
“In April the School of Hope had a focus week: Drug Education and Awareness. A survey that was conducted at the School of Hope revealed that the majority of students have witnessed adult family members using drugs in front of them. Those learners who have tried using drugs or are still currently using drugs, did so for the first time before they were 15 years old. The most common drugs identified in the survey were Methamphetamine (Tik), Heroine (Unga) and Marijuana (Dagga).
Adolescence is a significant period where there is rapid development between childhood and adulthood, involving complex cognitive development. The prefrontal cortex is mainly responsible for this development. It allows a teenager to be able to start thinking in more of an abstract manner, using a wider perspective of understanding and reasoning. The thoughts, ideas and concepts developed during this period greatly influence the type of adult the adolescent will become. A study conducted in 2012 by the University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa titled ‘Brain imaging illuminates the impact of addictive drugs on the brain’,  found that Heroin, Tik and alcohol are all responsible for the reduction of cell development in the prefrontal cortex. This means that drugs can damage or impair the part of the brain responsible for social and moral functioning of an individual.

In order to educate and create awareness about the impact of drugs and alcohol the school hosted two guest speakers who are recovering addicts to share their life story with the students. The students hung on their every word, often relating many of the life events and situations that were shared back into their own lives in the Cape Flats community.
Then SANCA (South African National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence) came to the school and educated the students about the physical and psychological effects of using drugs and spoke about how using Tik has been a variable linked directly to the increase of contracting HIV due to the physiological effects the drug has on a person.

Drug Education Week ended with 15 of our students volunteering to be trained by SANCA as peer counselors in their school. This means they will be able to pick up the signs and symptoms of their peers who may be using or abusing drugs. They will be able to do informal counseling and know how to communicate drug information to their peers as well as how they can go about accessing the relevant treatment.
School of Hope will also be having NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings once a week where students who are affected by drugs can share anonymously in a group and receive support and counseling related directly to the various affects drugs can have on an individual, a family and a community.

(Daryn Jones)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Creating Hope

I was pleasantly surprised by a letter written to me by our enthusiastic Creative Arts teacher, Sipho Banda. Having just taken over the overactive, difficult-to-please and sadly underachieving Grade 8 class, he had a moment of joy in the integrated music/poetry class. He writes:

Last week, during Creative Arts, the Grade 8 class had to read aloud or perform a poem. The poems were randomly selected - I had never read the poem ‘Ou Krouskop’ before, and certainly assumed the learners never had either, but within minutes it was performed with an edgy and creative Hip-Hop flow ! I certainly don’t think the author intended ‘Ou Krouskop’ to be read that way, but that’s the beautiful thing about poetry and creativity. The group’s interpretation of the title had some local twang to it which was most entertaining. I smiled…and my smile turned to pure enjoyment. I wanted someone to walk into my class so that I could share the moment.
Learners should want to perform, present and learn with their peers.  What musical creativity! I didn’t know what to do with myself – and it was good. It was great to hear the murmurs of enthusiasm in the class.  One learner in particular displayed great confidence. Her voice was strong, and she was very good in her delivery. Something has happened in that learner.

So, with all the other important business that comes with teaching, I know that creativity is splendid and should always be encouraged in class.
Mr Banda does not have to convince me. The difference in the Grade 8 class since he became their teacher is obvious. All it takes is the courage to allow for something a little out of the routine for the learners to achieve something great.

Take the story of Masixole Feni. Masi left School of Hope after completing his Grade 12 exams in 2010 to pursue his love for photography. This month the South African Centre for Photography will exhibit his work: Water is Life. This is the first in a series of solo photographic exposés by Masixole Feni, showcased at the Alliance Française during the Month of April, 2014. The series has won a South African Centre for Photography award for its quality and relevant discourse related to 20 years of Democracy in South Africa. The prize includes the production and hosting of a further two linked showcases during the Cape Town Month of Photography that will showcase in October 2014 as an Official World Design Capital Project.

The exhibition opened on the 3rd April by Ian Landsberg, photo editor-in-chief at the independent Newspapers, where Masixole Feni has been a freelance photographer for the past two and a half years. Says Dimitri Perez, Alliance Française cultural coordinator, “As a cultural centre, with a mission to promote cultural diversity, as well as French culture, we are proud to welcome Masixole Feni and co-facilitate his solo debut in South Africa with Water is Life, curated by Jenny Altschuler of the South African Centre for Photography. The Alliance Française, in collaboration with the SA Centre for Photography, will host and support the month long showcase, as well as facilitate a public program which invites interaction between the community, the photographer and the work. It is also an honour to have Masixole Feni at Alliance as he has previously won the South African leg of the Alliance Française International Photography contest. This is a continuation also of our recognition of his beautiful work and the social topics he shares.”
Renting the space where he has placed his shack, as a ‘backyard dweller’ in the Mfuleni settlement near Khayelitsha, Cape Town, Masi has limited access to water and electricity from the main RDP house and no access to a toilet. Having grown up in the Sakhumzi Orphanage down the road, Masi still feels, however, that he has had more than many other people in the area. The South African Centre for Photography describes him on their website as follows: "Feni’s work has the self-awareness of a seer within his community".

So, we continue to celebrate creativity at the School of Hope and trust that many more creative minds will be nurtured and developed from within our walls. Perhaps, the next great musician-poet will emerge from Mr Banda's Grade 8 class.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Remembering ... and speaking out!


Grade 9 learners at School of Hope  recently visited the Holocaust Center, as part of the Social Sciences curriculum. The center is the oldest of its kind in Africa. It houses insightful historical content about the Human Rights violated during and post-WWII.

The day was spent attending lectures, viewing historical artifacts and watching documentaries. The outing gave the class an opportunity to engage with topics discussed as part of the History curriculum, in a different and experiential way. What a great opportunity it was to honour the millions of lives that were lost as a result of a Nazi genocide and to join the people who say, 'Never again!'.

Educator Sipho Banda and Social Worker Daryn Jones accompanied the learners

Upcoming Human Rights Day (21 March) was put into perspective during this experience
Speaking Out!

While the Grade 9s were crystallizing their ideas about social issues and  finding their voices to speak out against injustice and oppression, two Grade 11 learners were selected to participate in the District Public Speaking competition held at Herschel Girls School on Saturday the 15th March. This being our first year, we were grateful just to be participating and to be part of this eloquent and outspoken community of young people. Siyanda Seteni encouraged us to 'laugh like old folk', referencing a famous poem by Maya Angelou. Siphesihle Mzukwa highlighted the challenges of people living in his beloved township of kwaLanga. Both did their best and were honoured with participation certificates. The real learning took place as they confidently mixed with their peers from private and public schools and connected as young people with something to say.

Next year, we go for the medals!

Siyanda Seteni and Siphesihle Mzukwa bottom center

Pictured here with proud English teacher Sipho Banda

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

We are home!

We are home!

After an arduous seven year search, the School of Hope has new premises!
Sipho Banda and Laura Collura

Situated on the Observatory/Mowbray border, the school is conveniently placed near public commuting hubs. The secure business-park complex offers a uniquely professional and dynamic environment.

Having left our intimate premises in Bridgetown, it has become more important than ever to foster a nurturing school culture - one that offers high academic standards while providing holistic intervention.  

Our beautiful little school encourages a new kind of instruction; one that challenges the staff to try insightful and creative approaches to pedagogy.  The only "old" comfort we hold on to, is the familiarity our core values: hope, family, transformation, responsibility and giving.

School of Hope
Unit 27A&C
Waverley Business Park
Cape Town
 Phone:  (021) 447 0334                                                                     
Seeing the auditorium, filled with fresh-faced learners on the first day of school, was a sight that visionary educators would appreciate. But, soon began the challenge of managing 127 learners, twice as many as we have had before!

Nothing hits home like this gem of advice from an experienced educator:  
“Let us remember that the most difficult learners are usually the most intelligent. Give them something to do, something that is challenging…” This has proven to be a useful nugget of truth.

We need not have been concerned that the unique School of Hope atmosphere would be lost. It remains, only with twice as much enthusiasm. The great thing about being an educator in the noughties is that you get to capture snapshots like this. The lively and colourful trend of spontaneous music continues in the new premises.

Pictured (from right) is RCL Co-captain strumming away, joined by two Grade 10 learners. The warmth offered by the acoustic sounds as you walk out of the staff room is something any weary teacher will appreciate.

The Representative Council of Learners (RCL) meet weekly to discuss issues that concern and affect all learners, and assist with general event planning. Each member is tasked with the responsibility of an individual portfolio. The RCL are determined to promote a change in thinking, especially where school spirit is concerned.

To those who have traveled the journey with us this far, thank you.  Your continuous and increasing support is most valued. Let this be an encouragement to the new family of supporters. You have joined a team of people who have been committed to this task for years and you share in our joy as we begin a new and exciting chapter. Still, the mission remains, and what we are doing is of tremendous importance. We are the “education junkies” of this democratic nation. There is nothing more important that we can do for South Africa today than to educate her children – as in Bridgetown, now even more so in Mowbray.