At the end of 2005, Herne Hill School formed an allegiance with Khanya Primary School, a state school in a township in Cape Town. Our aim has been to form long lasting links which not only support this desperately poor school but also provide benefits to our children such as making them more appreciative of the material comfort they enjoy and more aware of the world they live in.
Khanya was initially referred to us by School-Aid (www.school-aid.org), a UK based charity which also helps us with the shipment of collected goods to Khanya in containers provided free of charge by Capespan, the South African fruit exporter. We are grateful for their help and the strong support by our parent association, the Friends of Herne Hill School.
The relationship between our two schools strengthened in June 2009 through the visit to Herne Hill School by Linda Mahote, who is Principal of Khanya Primary School since January 2014 and was Deputy Principal at the time. She spent time with all the classes, assisted the production of our year-end play, ‘The Lost Stories of Khanya’, and took back with her many impressions, learnings and friendships.
After a difficult period at Khanya in the ensuing couple of years, which also caused a pause in our fundraising, Khanya’s health was sufficiently restored for our recently retired Headteacher Mrs Beales and Dominik, our Director, to go to Cape Town in January 2013 to see if the partnership could be re-energised and to honour our commitment to a group of gifted and poor children who had been awarded small bursaries from the Friends of Herne Hill School. You can read their informative travel blog by clicking here. Their visit also enabled the establishment of some helpful, direct links with the Western Cape Education Department.
These links strengthened in October 2013 through the visit to Herne Hill School by two senior members of the Department, Mrs Thandeka Jafta and Mrs Myrtle February. They also visited a number of other schools in London to gain insights into UK schools’ best practice teaching methods, and we held a special whole school assembly with them.
In August 2014, Dominik visited Khanya for two weeks with his daughter to drive forward a long-held ambition of helping Khanya conduct eye screening of their learners and obtain glasses for those who need them. Click here to read about the amazing successes they were able to celebrate and to see some insightful pictures of life at and around Khanya. His trip also strengthened our bonds with the Western Cape Education Department, which were further solidified when Mrs Beales visited Khanya in October 2014 and Myrtle February visited Herne Hill School in November 2014.
On 20 July 2015, Khanya moved to new, state-of-the-art premises in the township of Philippi, where the majority of children live. This is massive improvement as it means that the busing of the learners is no longer required and parents can have much closer links with the school. The location is adjacent to a police academy, which also bodes well for much greater safety at the school and break-ins and vandalism, which Khanya unfortunately suffered extensively in the past. You can see the school’s location well on Google Earth by searching for “Philippi Police Academy”; the school is just to the South, recognisable as the buildings with three large courtyards.
In October 2015, during the autumn half-term break, two of our teachers, Miss Bottomley and Miss Forsdick, visited Khanya for two weeks thanks to the generous donation of one of our parents. They spent time visiting the classes, helping out in various ways and establishing priorities for our assistance and links back to our children. Please click on this PowerPoint presentation to view a selection of photos from their visit. They also created a lovely short film of about three minutes, which is well worth seeing as it conveys well the happy atmosphere reigning at Khanya.
During the autumn half-term break in October 2016, we once again sent two of our teachers, Ms Peters and Mr Clay, to visit and support Khanya Primary School thanks to the generous support by the Friends.
Our link with Khanya also featured at the inauguration event for our new Oak building in January 2016, when our Year 2 children sang the South African national anthem accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet.
Finally, you can click here if you would like to view a PowerPoint Presentation with more background information on Khanya and pictures, including the history of our link with them.