Miss Burton's recent Connecting Classrooms visit to South Africa.
In March I and Miss Hobson from Beachwood Primary School were fortunate enough to travel to South Africa as part of the British Councils connecting classrooms project. For 7 days we had the amazing opportunity to explore the region’s natural beauty, immerse ourselves in local cultures and work with some fantastic educators at a number of schools in the Nkandla region.
After settling well into Eshowe we took the opportunity to enjoy the warm South African weather. A real treat compared to the cold harsh British weather we had left behind. That morning we drove out to Mnyakanya High School and we met the teachers and students there. First of all we were introduced to the school principal and then many students went off to their classrooms to begin exams. Mr. Mbambo introduced us to his class and we showed the students some of the work that has been taking place on the environment project at St Marys and Beechwood primary school. Next we were very lucky to hear the Gospel choir sing for us. They had fantastic, powerful voices and we could have listened to them sing all day! Members of the school council gave us a guided tour of the school, including the school grounds where many of the students were taking a break in the shade. It was very interesting to see that the students could buy their own lunch and snacks from ladies at the tuck shop. In the afternoon we were accompanied by teachers and students who showed us around their local area. We drove past President Zuma’s house which is very close to Mnyakana High School. In the distance we could see a large cliff face. Eventually, after crossing Tulega River, we arrived at an incredible viewpoint called Ntunjambili. We could see for miles across the beautiful South African countryside! Later on we arrived back at school just before 3.00pm, which was also home time for the students. Before leaving school some of the girls performed some traditional Zulu dances. These were very entertaining and everybody was had a fantastic time.
Day 2 Ntolwane Primary School
We spent the morning at Ntolwane Primary School, this is the link school for Beechwood primary. On arrival we met with the principal and were introduced to some of the teachers. After that we met some very helpful students in Grade 8 that took us in to all of the different classrooms. Many classes had lots of children in them. In grade 2 there were around 60 pupils. The students at Ntolwane were a little shy to begin with as their first language is IsiZulu and they learn English at school. They were all speaking lots more to us as the day went on! In Grade 2 we watched the children learning IsiZulu and we tried our best to pronounce some tricky Zulu words! In the next class we saw the children reading books out loud in English. They were learning about living and non-living things. It was great to hear the children reading with very confident voices!
We joined the children during break time. They have 45 minutes break for the day. Lots of the children enjoy ice pops in the shade, whilst others roam around the school field. There were also goats and geese sharing the playground with the children. After break we were able to watch the children perform for us. We heard some fantastic singing, watched incredible Zulu dancing and also listened to the children’s poems about their rights.
My favourite part of that day was learning IsiZulu phrases from the students. I think many of the students enjoyed taking photos with the iPad as well as being able to show us some of their super talents!
Day 3 Zulufadder
Wednesday was another fantastic day. By far the best experience of the trip. In the morning we visited Zulufadder, a day care centre set up for orphans and vulnerable children. Popi was a very happy lady and the children were very lively and clearly loved spending time at the centre. We were able to play games outside and the children showed us their super writing and excellent songs!
The afternoon was spent at Dlinza Forest-an aerial boardwalk that takes you through the forest and above the canopy layer, then up into the emergent layer. It was a little bit scary standing so high up but the view across the forest was definitely worth it.
We were being accompanied by Mr. Mbambo and another educator from Mnyakanya High School. We drove out a long way to Nkandla forest and eventually were greeted by two rangers that were ready to guide us through the largest forest in South Africa. It was a steep journey down as we scrambled deeper into the forest. As we began our journey the air was dry with a cool breeze and the further we trekked into the forest the more hot and humid the air became. It was very exciting and we were was busy looking out for birds and animals. I spotted a huge millipede coiled around the trunk of a tree! The baboons could be heard in the distance but we did not manage to spot one! Our walk took us over rivers that we crossed carefully by leaping over the rocks! It was very exciting and we certainly got lots of exercise that morning.
The afternoon was spent watching a fast paced netball match. I was particularly impressed by the standard of play as the principal explained that the girls were not coached and that they had only taught themselves how to play the game and practiced together as a team to improve their skills.
Before we left the whole school gathered outside and pupils performed traditional songs for us. Once again I was very impressed by the high standards of the pupils and how talented they are. It was soon time to leave so we thanked everybody involved in helping to organise such a fantastic visit.