Written by Bianca Woolley; Photographs by Jacqui Maurice and Rogan Ward (scroll through gallery above for more images)
Highbury and Inchanga Primary School are excited to announce the start of a new twinning programme between the two schools. Highbury was introduced to Inchanga Primary earlier this year and the two schools have enjoyed a few interactions this year, such as the Mandela Day sandwiches and the Books to Africa donation. Last month, Roland Lacock, Highbury's Headmaster, spent time meeting with Mr Shau, Inchanga Primary's Headmaster and together these two educational leaders agreed to start on a journey together of exploring ways for the two schools to partner going forward. Mr Lacock and Mr Shau are both excited about learning from each other as leaders of two different types of schools.
Inchanga Primary, like Highbury, has a long and proud history. German settlers founded the school in 1820, and it has grown dramatically over the years, now educating over 1000 children from Grade R to Grade 7. Inchanga Primary was a Catholic school, sharing our Christian values, and it is quickly clear to see that it is a well-run school despite substantial challenges.
We visited Inchanga Primary on Friday 20th October, together with the team from the Futurelife Foundation, to hand over our donation of packets of soup for every child to take home (thank you, Highbury parents!), and beautiful, colourful Uzwelo backpacks full of stationery and books for each of the Grade 2 and 3 learners to use at school (thank you, Futurelife Foundation!). Julika Falconer, mom of Rasmus, a 2009 leaver and Stewart, currently in Grade 4, manages the Futurelife Foundation Trust which feeds approximately 200,000 meals per month at ECD Centres and Primary Schools including Inchanga Primary. The trust also raises money in Germany for much needed educational materials as stationary, books, school bags and playgrounds. It was Julika who introduced Highbury to Inchanga Primary and we are so grateful for her role in starting this new partnership.
Inchanga Primary is a quintile 2, non-fee paying school and many of the children do not have access to regular meals at home, hence the importance of trying to feed them at school each day. Aside from their Futurelife breakfast, each of the over 1000 pupils also gets lunch at school - Friday's lunch of maize meal with maas was being proudly prepared as we visited. The Grade 1 classroom that I had an opportunity to visit had 45 children hard at work at their desks, doing maths. Their teacher had decorated the walls and despite it being different in so many ways from Highbury, it was clear that this classroom is a happy place of learning with a caring teacher.
Mr Shau, Inchanga's Headmaster, is very innovative in his thinking. The two oyster mushroom sheds yield a weekly income that is vital in sustaining the school. They have their own vegetable garden and a representative from Cedara Agricultural College teaches a group of children vegetable gardening as a skill, as well as being a source of food for school meals. Inchanga Primary is even on Instagram: follow them on inchanga_primary.
The Inchanga/Highbury twinning vision goes beyond donations to making a difference in each of our educational programmes at a teacher level, and through facilitating meaningful and fun interactions between pupils. This is in keeping with Highbury's mission statement of responsible citizenship within the community, society, the environment and globally: we are excited to see what will come from this embryonic twinning relationship as it grows over time.