Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Kroonstad: For many decades before democracy, many South African communities were denied the opportunity to actively participate in development projects in their communities. Since then, community participation and involvement has evolved into a fundamental area of development.

This can be seen in government and corporate interventions that aim to better and uplift the lives of the community. This phenomenon is no different when it comes to our education system and the role of parents and the community at large play in the delivery of inclusive education.

Private Public Partnerships in education development are most effective when the beneficiaries of the partnership also participate in the process.

With this, the De Beers Fund together with the Free State Department of Education invested more than R25m towards the construction of Phuleng Primary School, which is based in Kroonstad in the Fezile Dabi Education district.

The De Beers Group Voorspoed mine’s Rural School Development Programme, partnered with KST’s District Whole School Development programme which aims to address infrastructure needs for local schools and leave a lasting legacy for host communities.

Partnering with the Free State Department of Education have made a significant investment, with KST acting as an implementing agent in the construction of 20 new classrooms, one ablution block, a Grade R section with three new classrooms, a media centre that consists of a library and computer centre, a nutrition centre that consists of a kitchen and dining centre and a sports field with change rooms. The facilities will benefit 882 learners and 27 educators.

KST has been implementing the District Whole School Development programme in the Fezile Dabi and Motheo districts since 2013, and one of the programme interventions is school infrastructure development which is aimed at enabling a conducive teaching and learning environment for both learners and educators.

This intervention places community participation and parental involvement in the centre of its success. To give credence to the principle of community participation and parental involvement, the Phuleng Primary School construction project is ably run by a Project Steering Committee.

This is constituted by local civil society members, including SGB members (representing the parents), Ward Councillors, Community Liaison Officer and the school principal, amongst others.

Local community entrepreneurs in the form of SMMEs, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled parents reap economic benefits in this project. Since the project started in October of 2018, approximately 131 temporary jobs have been created.

“It was important that the community of Maokeng participate in this project from the onset to ensure that it empowers the community to participate and ultimately own and protect the facilities for the benefit of the current land future learners in the community,” said Themba Mola, KST CEO.

Since the sod turning that took place in October 2018, the construction phase started in February 2019 and made significant progress however, in 2020 the construction had to be temporally put on hold due to the COVID-19 lockdown regulations as well as rainy weather conditions, completion of the infrastructure is at an 82% rate and it is anticipated that the handover will take place March 2021.

“The project Steering Committee will continue to thoroughly engage the community and provide opportunities available as well as continuously provide clarity on the processes that are used to select sub-contractors and low-skilled labourers when required.” concluded Mola.