Ms Jane Khoza

Founder and Principal of Sifundzekhaya Primary School, a Public school situated at Middleplass, Bongane Section (Ward 24) in Matsamo Tribal Authority. She is a Community Leader in Malelane and has facilitated numerous funding initiatives that were used to mobilize and improve the social and economic welfare of the community.

Through the hard work and passion that she has about education, she was nominated by Mpumalanga Department of Education to go to Boston in the USA for Curriculum Development and Implementation Seminar. Sifundzekhaya primary school is a public school situated at Middleplass, Bongane Section ward 24 in Matsamo tribal authority. This school was established due to the fact that a grade 6 learner was seriously stabbed and raped on her way to the local school called Mpumelelo. These learners were travelling 9kms to and from school on daily basis. The name ''sifundzekhaya'' means we learn at home avoiding long trips that learners were walking on bare feet. Rape and abduction of young learners motivated me to request 2 hectors from our local Induna (Chief) in order to build the school as community involvement project. This school operated five years not registered, other stakeholders tried to intimate and discourage me but I didn't lose hope.

The school was officially registered in 2002 after the involvement of the community. We started by building a shack of four classrooms and two storerooms through engaging community members to donate bricks, window frames and corrugated iron. I then scouted for donations from NGO's whereby I received an amount of R250.000 to build four classrooms through the Tender Board.

I realized that the school community was in need of a person who will be an Ambassador, a mouth piece as well as an extended hand of the school governing body to the outside world especially the corporate world. For this school to become a conducive learning environment we decided to nominate Mr TSP Makwetla who was the MEC of safety and security. Then he was therefore inaugurated in 2003/04/21 to serve this school as a patron. Together with the patron, we came up with three priorities i.e. a computer lab, a borehole and a multipurpose sports field.

I decided that the computer lab must be the main priority because within the community were the school is situated there a great shortage of skills. Through my efforts SARS - the sponsor of our computer lab, offered us 31 computers including their tables. Computer lessons are done from grade 1 to 7 as a full learning area, after a set duration, learners who will meet minimum requirements, are offered accredited certificates, The shortage of water for the nutritional Programme, drinking as well as for the gardens pushed me to seek for a borehole. The South African Breweries (SAB) came to rescue and donated R110 000 which we use to install a borehole and erect a sport field. The borehole started functioning on the14th February 2005 and the multi-purpose sports field was constructed.

As our mission statement states that learners should be equipped with knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to function effectively in levels of the society. To realize that, we managed to involve teachers to initiate a mini library which assist learners to improve their reading skills, two educators has been trained in order for effective functioning of this library. All teachers are now running the school's day to day library successfully.

The school is surrounded by busy roads, I therefore realized that our learners need to be trained in road rules and road usage. Together with the staff members and the school governing we came up with a project called road safety Programme where we built a junior traffic training centre. This centre aims at assisting our learners to have knowledge traffic rules, signs and road marking, relevant pedestrian skills, motor skills with regard to the handling of push wheels and creating a positive attitude in the road usage. Through fundraising we manage to acquire R15 000 which was used for the construction of the centre. I invite curriculum implementers, curriculum expertise and educationist to visit us timeously in order to assist us by explaining the implementation of policies. I urge teachers to implement diversity in religious leaders to come and share their knowledge with the school through guidance of the national policy document based on religion.

As a principal I ensure that the classroom and the school grounds are kept clean and attractive. The school obtained position one as well as R10.000 and a certificate within Malelane sub region in adopt a school yard project in 2005.I encourage the staff to develop themselves by academically enrolling in skill development, upgrading with their different institutions through ongoing motivation as well as setting an example for them about professional development, today nearly all the educators who where unqualified are holding degrees a diplomas and are presently enrolling in different institutions to continue furthering their studies that is why our academic results are always high.

As a good leader I make sure that the learners participate in all extra mural activities. From 2003 to 2006 we receive 12 trophies in music by participating in the Tirisano Choral Music competitions. Through my encouragement and motivation, the cultural group is also doing well and received trophies in different competitions. Even the school team's record of results including soccer and netball are very high.

Through my efforts Sifundzekhaya is a healthy promoting school. This Programme was launched on the16th September 2005. The main aim of this project being: Education on personal hygiene, safe drinking water and communicable diseases such as cholera, typhoid and many other diseases. As a health promoting school, I have been offered a school nurse who visit this school frequently. This Programme minimize cost for our parents because, instead of taking their children to the hospital or clinic, the nurses come down to them.

Due to high rate of people who are affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, I encourage all stakeholders to form Mavikele committee within the school. I encouraged teachers to conduct awareness inside the school premises, social workers are invited to the school, parents and learners get workshops from the counseling staff and we are giving attention to life skills programmes and encourage parents to seek treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. I engage the community by inviting Shongwe Hospital counseling team to teach the young people about prevention choices. Together with the team, home visits in the community to those affected and infected are conducted during the weekends to support them and give them a direction.

Through the community and the teacher's involvement I managed to initiate a gardening project which contributes to the greening of the school environment, sustainable natural resource management and food security. I encourage usage drip system as an innovative solution for sustainable production of crops to provide maize meal in order to cook soft porridge for learners in the morning and shops in the community donate maize meal. This we call Udowo Programme. This Programme is meant for children to get breakfast before going to their classrooms. It also makes them to be time conscious, as this breakfast is prepared before assembly. They enjoy this meal because most of them come on empty stomach. This has also greatly reduced the number of absentees from the school. Parents have a portion of land at school to plant vegetables so that they could eat at home. Left overs and some vegetables from the garden are given to the needy parents and learners to take home to feed their siblings. Through scouting of funds the Embassy of Japan came to our rescue by building 19 classrooms. At present we have 28classrooms.Our enrollment is now 920 learners.

Realizing that most of our learners come from a needy community, I therefore initiated a Programme called Siyibhumbe to invite business people within the community to donate school uniforms to the needy learners, school bags as well as bicycles are given to those who stay far from the school. At times they offer the needy learner bread to take home community members also donate clothes to the needy learners and parents. I usually encourage educators to adopt some of the needy learners in order to provide them with their needs. In parents meetings I invite all stakeholders like those dealing with HIV/AIDS, IT Section, community affairs security and health to keep them abreast of current affairs and changes in life situation.

Our helpers were cooking under trees, and therefore conducted fundraising and managed to establish a big structure for cooking which cost R200 000. Our securities were troubled by the sun and water during raining periods, I therefore constructed a guardhouse.

Through all my hard work the Department of Education Mpumalanga recognized my hard work passion about education and I was nominated to go to U.S in Boston and the purpose for that was for me to go and compare the education system and the curriculum system, development and the implementation of the curriculum. My observation s were all learners are good listeners and teachers plan in advance for their lessons. The respect from the learners was amazing, how they respect their teachers.