We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs.
The school's principal, Mr Thambo, has identified the following needs: basic literacy in English is essential - for nearly all of these children, school is their first exposure to English, and is at least their second language:
quality educational materials are seldom available
lesson planning and teaching methodologies – these are fundamental areas of modern education in which many teachers have received no training
Information Technology – whilst AV Bukani has computers, computer literacy among teachers cannot be taken as read
sports, arts and crafts practitioners are needed to work with the children to build confidence and enhance life-skills
principals are burdened with rampant bureaucracy - they have little training and even less support in appropriate administration
A.V.Bukani primary school provides education for children from the age of 4 to13 - from Reception to Grade 7. Twenty nine teachers care for nearly 1000 children. The principal, Mr Tambo, and his team are particularly keen to improve literacy and IT skills levels in the classroom, and to increase their knowledge of best practise teaching techniques.
Read further details of how the volunteer programme works with AV Bukani here.
A.V.Bukani school is in a rural community about 40 miles outside Port Elizabeth, close to the Addo Elephant Park in the town of Nomathamsanqa. Originally the townt was designed as a temporary residential area for the people who were moved from neighbouring farms until they were relocated to the former homelands. However the people resisted these moves. This community is one of the most disadvantaged communities in the Eastern Cape. Approximately 70% of the community inhabitants receive no income and as a result, parents are unable to pay even the minimal school fees or buy uniforms. The majority of parents work seasonally in the citrus fruit industry. The apartheid legacy remains – one of the greatest challenges is the growing gap between rich and poor. Despite this deprivation the sense of community is strong here. The principal, Mr Tambo, has made the school the centre of the community. The families tend the gardens and care for the school. Many of the children receive their major if not only meal of the day at school.
Though many of the township teachers are qualified and professional, the education system is in a state of transition. At the end of apartheid, South Africa had 17 different education systems, with different levels for different 'races', different training institutions and expectations for different teachers. It was an education system designed to maintain social divisiveness, prevent critical thinking, and was based on rote learning and minimal participation. Then, in 1994, it all changed – to an education system premised on democratic human rights, outcomes based, critical thinking and experiential learning – but still with the very same teachers, who have had to adapt radically and the disparity in resources between formerly white and township schools still exists. The education system is in transition, constant flux, and teachers operate with varying levels of skill and confidence.
Coupled with the challenges inherent in this change are the problems of large classes, social deprivation, HIV/ Aids and the resultant breakdown of the family. Teachers do their best under the circumstances, but often just need a bit of support and encouragement – and this is where you can make a meaningful contribution.
Read a volunteer blog from at AV Bukani 2010 - inspirational!
"We tried to prepare ourselves for just about anything, but we could never imagine the warmth, enthusiasm, caring and outpouring of appreciation that we have received both from the school and the entire township. Once we established that we recognized we had a lot to learn from the school and community, as well as share with them, the relationship has been extremely positive. The teachers, as one teacher noted, "are hungry to learn how to help the students." There are few school resources -- students work with stubs of pencils and very limited paper -- but the human resources are valuable beyond measure. This is a caring and committed staff, with one of the best principals any of us have ever met. They welcomed the opportunity to learn new strategies for engaging their students and increase the learning." Volunteer Eileen
Volunteer opportunities in this rural school – whether you are a professional teacher or classroom assistant, retired or in work and looking for a career break, you can share your skills and experience with local teaching staff in this education development project. Other skills and experience will also be welcome – take a look at the list of needs, as identified by the project, near the top of this page. You can play your part in responsible volunteer work overseas.