There were smiles on pupils’ faces at Imbasa Primary School, in Crossroads, when a group of students from the Marquette University in the USA donated pencil cases to more than 1 000 of them, on Monday November 21.
The students started a project called Pencil Pouches For Primaries with the aim of giving each pupil a case. A total of three students out of a total of 19 were placed at the school while others had been placed in different organisations. The students worked tirelessly to raise funds towards the project and managed to raise more than R26 000.
The initiative is an exchange programme between South Africa and the university. For six months the students attended a Leaders at Grassroots Organisations course at the University of the Western Cape. They were required to initiate an advocacy project, identifying social issues and finding strategies to address them.
One of the students, Maredithe Meyer, said through the project they sought to make a meaningful contribution to the promotion of community, society transformation and development. The 21-year-old said they also donated four big communal sharpeners which would be placed on the school walls enabling each pupil to sharpen their pencils.
She explained that at the beginning of the project, they had planned to donate the pencil pouches to Grade 5 pupils only, but they soon discovered that pupils were in great need of the pouches and pencils, so they opted to embark on a vigorous fundraising initiative for the whole school.
“We managed to secure funding through online crowdfunding and we also appealed to our Facebook friends to lend a helping had and our relatives have also donated.
“We have donated 1 250 pencil pouches. Basically we have given every pupil at the school a pencil pouch. The only issue we are concerned about is how are we going to make this project sustainable and we don’t just want this to end here.
“We are appealing to local business people and other stakeholders to come on board and support this project,” she said.
Programme director Melikaya Ntshingwa told Vukani that the programme aimed to enhance students’ learning by enabling them to practice skills and test classroom knowledge through related service experience in local communities.
Furthermore, he said, it strived to enable students to provide needed assistance and promote the exchange of resources between the university and the various community-based organisations. “The project has been running for a decade now and we are pleased by the significant contribution it has made.
“We aim to foster commitment for social justice. Education institutions need more than physical supplies. This is also part of an exchange of skills and learning more about different cultures,” he said.
School teacher Mamazana Ngqele expressed her sincere appreciation, saying most of their pupils came from disadvantaged communities and while this may not seem like much to some people, it means a lot to them.
She said they considered themselves fortunate to be one of the beneficiaries of the project.
Speaking on behalf of the pupils, Grade 7 pupil, Naledi Ndlebe 13, said the pupils were grateful to the donors and that they now won’t leave their pens and pencils lying around. She said this also encouraged them to give back to the community when they’re adults.