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Mark my Words

When we planned the itinerary for the #Journey2 road trip, we wanted to visit selected schools in the four provinces in which the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project (OMEFP) is running. Today we’re visiting St Marks College (594 pupils) and St Marks Primary (482 youngsters) in Jane Furse, Limpopo where there are 12 schools on the OMEFP programme.

But first, a brief recap of what the OMEFP is all about. In 2013 Old Mutual spearheaded a national education initiative, to invest R350 million over seven years into under-resourced schools in key provinces. The overarching goal of the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project (OMEFP) is to increase the number of bachelor passes (university entrance) of Grade 12 learners who have maths and science in their subject choice. By doing so, the number of students who access university education increases, with the end result of more professional skills in the economy.

A unique feature of the OMEFP project is rather than reinventing the wheel, it partners with specialist education organisations already operating in each region. So this means that participating schools in the different provinces are involved with different OMEFP programmes.

Having said that, one of the consistent elements throughout all the OMEFP schools is the strong focus on strengthening school leadership. And St Marks College principal, Mr Dijo speaks of the SEED leadership and management development programme that the senior leadership of the 12 Limpopo schools have participated in for the last year. The programme offers intense workshops, individual coaching sessions and forms a community of practice. “I gained a lot of insight into myself and who I am,” says Mr Dijo, “it’s helped us as a school management team to work better together.”

St Marks College principal, Mr Dijo speaks about the school’s leadership development.

Not only did the OMEFP fund the construction of a fully equipped Learning Centre in which to run learning initiatives, but in partnership with LEAP Schools and Edunova (collectively named LEED), also trained up 15 switched-on, IT-savvy ITE’s (Information Technology Entrepreneurs) who were then assigned to each school to assist teachers and learners how to better use technology both in the classroom curriculum, and also with school admin. ITE Gabriel Makoa (23) was appointed to St Marks College where he also facilitates group sessions to give learners a safe space to share their feelings and difficulties.

Information Technology Entrepreneur (ITE) Gabriel Makoa (23) with a group of St Marks College learners.

St Marks Primary principal, Mr Nkwane knows that IT skills are the way of the future for the youth, so his school has recently appointed ITE Betty Magabane as a permanent IT teacher. She says, “Even the grade 3’s are now competent enough they know how to insert photos and graphs.”

Another aspect of school support provided to St Marks Primary has been the installation of four vegetable tunnels, which are maintained by the teachers and learners. The vegetables contribute to better nutrition and healthy meals for the young children. It’s understandable when Mr Nkwane tells us that last year St Marks Primary received between 900-1000 applications, even though the school can only take 60-80 children each year.

St Marks Primary teacher, Lydia Mlangeni helps Mark to get a veggie tunnel shot on a rainy day!

As we prepare to leave the bell rings and the teachers start coming into the library for their morning break. I see Mr Nkwane move over to join his 17 staff for tea and sandwiches. He comments, “It helps us to work together as a team and build better relationships.”

St Marks Primary principal, Mr Nkwane.


Post index:

And we’re off!
Growing green futures
For the love of reading
Paying it forward
In the heat of the moment
The road to Camdeboo
The light of one small candle
Investing for the future
The building blocks of business
A heart for horses
Mining for talent
My ability is greater than my disability
To be a nurse, you must be love
There’s no such thing as ‘the voiceless’
Mark my words
The place where the sun rises
Welcome to your future
Strengthening families 

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