Usasazo high receives new classrooms

School principal Patrick Barnes shows Vukani the classrooms which the school had received.

In response to their numerous calls for help, the Mellon Educate project has built eight additional classes for Usasazo High School in Khayelitsha.

The project is an extension of the Niall Mellon Housing initiative, that provides houses for the needy in various communities around the country. It is the brainchild of US philanthropist Niall Mellon.

And on Friday November 17 the project celebrated another milestone as it handed over the classrooms and a kitchen.

The classrooms, a playground and an outside gym were built in a week-and the organisation has vowed to work closely with the school to improve learning and teaching.

Principal Patrick Barnes said the school struggled to accommodate the high number of pupils coming from the many primary schools which act as feeder schools.

The school is meant to accommodate 1 000 pupils but currently has an enrolment of 1 350.

He said overcrowding made it extremely difficult for teachers to work effectively and that numerous requests to the department for additional classes had been in vain.

Mr Barnes said all the new classrooms have a storeroom in which the class teachers can keep their teaching material.

“I absolutely have no words to describe how I feel about what this organisation has done. We have been requesting extra classes since 2014.

“We are grateful and this will surely inspire teachers and pupils. Education is not the responsibility of teachers only, but it’s a societal responsibility.

“The future of our pupils looks bright. This project is a Godsend,” he said.

Mr Barnes said next year the organisation would bring some education experts in to help boost their academic performance.

He praised the role the community had played, with some of them having been employed on the project.

Mellon director, Babalwa Mpulampula, said they wanted to make a meaningful contribution towards education and improve township schools, bringing them on par with their more affluent counterparts.

Through education, Ms Mpulampula said, they believed they could make a change in the lives of the children and the entire community.

She said pupils at the school were not getting the best education because of overcrowding.

“We want to change the image of our township schools. We believe that all the children have the potential to become anything in life if only they are provided with the necessary tools and equipments,” she said.

Chairperson of the school governing body, Thokozani Ncayiyana, said it had been painful to see pupils try to learn in overcrowded classrooms and that the organisation had answered their prayers by building additional classrooms.

He also called on the government to do more to improve township schools and urged the community to protect the school against vandalism.