On 23 April 2017, a group of enthusiastic Grade 11’s from Heronbridge College made their way down from a somewhat colder Gauteng to join the Siyakwazi team and teachers at Madabalaza ECD Centre in Kwanzimakwe. It was a week of community outreach and collaboration, inspiring new learnings and important reflections to take home.
Cathy shares the highlights of the week spent with the students and teachers of both schools and sheds some light on what is involved in community outreach programmes.
Madabalaza is a relatively new centre with teachers, Tenjiwe and Joyce, showing huge willingness and passion towards empowering their children’s’ learnings and progress. Inspired by her current Masters project, Cathy introduced an action-research-cycle model to the Heronbridge students on their arrival. The model uses a 4-element approach (observe, reflect, analyse, act), and challenges some of the more traditional thinking that is often linked to community development and outreach initiatives.
The objective was to support students in seeing the value of participation as a critical part of the process of community outreach. Collaboration which is so important in these initiatives means that each person involved must understand that everyone is there to contribute and that local knowledge and resources are paramount to the process. Through the action research cycle an individual can start to become conscious of their ways of thinking and make wiser decisions in how they choose to act.
The feedback from both sides has shown enormous potential in the sustainability of the relationship, and most importantly a growing participation within the rural ECD sphere. Despite the lack of resources that Madabalaza, and many other centres like it face, the students of Heronbridge identified a strong commitment and selflessness within the community. They also realised that a lot can be accomplished with very little and that when embarking on any outreach initiative it can never be presumed as to what the teachers and students might need.
Some highlights of the weeks’ outreach activities are showcased below.
Providing the school with lego (charity) boxes and workshopping the many ways that lego can be used at an ECD level to promote learning and development. The lego block has such a variety of uses involving colours, shapes and numbers and that’s before anything has been built! Two of the Siyasizas were fortunate enough, thanks to Heronbridge College, to attend an ECD lego workshop earlier in the year, allowing Siyakwazi to empower the community and its centres with the lego knowledge. The boxes which were donated by Heronbridge will go a long way to stimulating learning for children at the various schools and ECD centres.
Don’t throw it away was the theme surrounding the ‘learning to make toys and other educational resources from waste materials’ – collaboration that Siyakwazi first encountered in 2015 through Singakwenza, a PMB-based NPO which focuses on sustainable development by empowering communities to build educational toys and resources from everyday waste.