Child Friendly Schools in the Northern Cape: KimKgolo Primary School
April 2011 - “At our school we take every opportunity that avails itself to us to. We work very hard to improve the school,” says Kelebogile Suipers, Principal of KimKgolo Primary School, Galeshewe township in Kimberley.
And there can be no better testament to the success of KimKgolo in implementing the seven pillars of Child Friendly School (CFS) then the happy smiles and enthusiastic voices of the 800 learners sitting in its classrooms.
Safety and security of learners and educators has been a top priority for the school. Access is controlled and all visitors must report to the front office. The school recently paid for two educators to attend training on fire prevention and response, and fire-drills are regularly practiced. There are fire extinguishers in every block, and the gas used for cooking meals for the children is safely stowed away after use.
The school has managed to reduce absenteeism drastically by engaging with parents and children on the importance of regular attendance. Disruption of the learning process is not tolerated, stresses Ms. Suipers. Even teacher-parent consultations are held only after school hours.
Outside each classroom is a basin filled with water so that children can wash their hands before and after eating. Cleanliness and hygiene is strongly adhered to, as a Child Friendly School is a clean and healthy one. Each child receives a meal once a day, lovingly prepared by a team of cooks who receive only a small stipend for their contribution.
Kimgolo is also deeply involved in the surrounding community. The school has mentored others on how to start a successful vegetable garden, and local soccer clubs have written to the principal asking whether they can use the sports field which the school has painstakingly rejuvenated and maintained over the past two years. The school has actively sought partnerships which have allowed it to purchase sporting equipment and to pave a courtyard so that netball matches can be played. Every day, after school, the learners can be found playing chess, soccer, cricket, netball, or practicing with the choir of drum majorettes.
To commemorate special occasions the school raises funds to help others in the community. Last year, for World Food Day, they collected non-perishable food items and money to prepare meals for a local home for the elderly.
Kimkgolo is a shining example to other schools, and a testament to what can be achieved with strong leadership, commitment and hard work.