Volunteers build new classrooms

Founder of Mellon Educate Niall Mellon leads by example as he paints some of the classrooms which have been built.

Overcrowding and poor infrastructure at two Khayelitsha primary schools, Ummangaliso and Kuyasa, will now be a thing of the past, thanks to the Mellon Housing Initiative’s Mellon Educate project, a UK-based NGO, that has built seven new classrooms for each school.

Established in 2002, the Mellon Housing Initiative has built thousands of houses for South Africans in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Through Mellon Educate, the organisation is now building schools in poor communities. Since its establishment in 2013, the project has built a number of schools across the country.

And last week, it was the turn of Khayelitsha to benefit. From Monday November 7 until Friday November 11, they built classrooms and improved some of the existing infrastructure.

A total of 270 volunteers from the UK laboured around the clock to build the classrooms but the work is only expected to be finalised at the end of the month.

The volunteers jetted back to the UK on Saturday November 12, leaving a contractor to finish up.

A thrilled Niall Mellon, founder of the organisation and an entrepreneur, told Vukani that part of their plans was to improve teaching and learning at Ummangaliso Primary School.

He said he would employ 10 teachers over a five-year period. They had discovered that a number of township schools were overcrowded and teachers were battling to offer individual support to the pupils, he said.

They would work with the two schools to assist them in achieving the desired results and equip them with better teaching methods.

He believes that an education programme which combines teaching values and character development will give pupils a future without limitations and the skills to achieve their full potential.

Mr Mellon said he was shocked to see the appalling living conditions when he first visited Cape Town in 2002, and opted to start the organisation to build houses for needy people.

“We have built 900 houses in Site C and we have built homes for 100 000 people in Cape Town and Johannesburg. We have built schools in the Eastern Cape and Cape Town.

“Each of the volunteers had to raise R50 000 to cover travelling costs and the building of the schools, but we are also grateful to the donors who are funding this project,” he said.

Mr Mellon said the Mellon Educate project had been launched to provide education to more than 100 000 of the world’s poorest children in Africa and inspire governments to provide a self-improving education.”

To achieve this, Mr Mellon said they had rolled out their Mellon Educate Results Programme to schools.

It was designed to achieve positive results and push the school to achieve an overall pass rate of not less than 75 percent.

Ummangaliso principal Mlungisi Siko applauded the organisation.

He said they would convert one of the classrooms into a library.

Mr Siko said the school had an overcrowding crisis with up to 68 pupils in some of their classrooms.

He said they would move some the pupils into the new classes.

“We have one library at the school, but it was a battle to accommodate the needs of the people,” he said.

The classes would be officially opened next year. “The desks and other school material for the classes have been already bought by the organisation,” he said.

The organisation also announced that it would support four destitute pupils from the school with monthly vouchers to buy groceries, until they are adults.