Link School Project

Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School and Zanyeni Junior Secondary School

The project began in the summer of 2004, when Dr. Holding, spent five weeks living and working in the village of Setabataba in the Eastern Cape (former Transkei) region of S. Africa. The village has only the most basic of facilities: no running water, electricity or roads. Living with a teacher host family, he worked with the teachers and pupils of Zanyeni School. His trip was organised by ‘Link Community Development’, an NGO working to improve education in several African countries.
The aim of the project is to promote understanding between cultures, to improve the standard of teaching and learning, and the infrastructure of the Zanyeni School. The Borlase board of governors has generously supported the link school project. The project is now in its third year, and teacher exchanges have taken place in 2005 and 2006, with four teachers from Zanyeni and four from Borlase having visited each other’s schools. The students and parents of Sir William Borlase’s have donated time and funds to support the building project, scheduled for completion in the summer of 2007.

Teacher's Travelogue - Summer 2005

For the past three years Sir William Borlase and Zanyeni JSS have taken part in a teacher exchange programme. Miss Dyson and Dr. Holding have kindly provided Powerpoint presentations detailing their time in Zanyeni, complete with photographs. These are available from the left-hand menu. Below is an excerpt from Miss Dyson's diary describing life in Zanyeni.
The following is a short passage from the diary I kept during my visit to our LINK school (Zanyeni JSS) in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is intended to give you a taste of what to expect if you ever venture to the lesser populated regions of the South where electricity, modern conveniences and money are all lacking.

C. L. Dyson

Day 3 – Wednesday 20th July 2005:

We are woken by the maid at 6.30am after a reasonably restful sleep (apart from the 4am cockerel calls). A large basin and buckets of hot and cold water are placed in our room for us to wash in (collected from the nearest water tap and painstakingly heated). As it is still dark outside this is done by the light of our lanterns. We consume a very familiar breakfast of cereals with warm milk before making our way to school (closely followed by a cow) where we are introduced to all the staff and students during morning assembly (held outdoors at 7.50am every morning). Students are soon dismissed to their first lesson of the day, giving us an opportunity to have a look around the school.
The rooms in the old block are very basic and clearly not designed to keep out the cold wind that is blowing outside. Many of the windows have been smashed by vandals and have not been repaired, and the doorways are simply left as open frames. The classrooms are separated by a thin piece of hardboard that can be removed when a larger venue is required by the whole school. The rooms contain old and battered chairs, desks and a chalk board, leaving little room for movement. They are void of decoration and the lack of security means that nothing valuable can be left in the classrooms overnight. It must be hard for the teachers due to the lack resources and light and their constant battle against sound from the next room.
I felt like I had stepped back in time as the teachers dictated from texts while the children were required to sit and listen, only occasionally responding to acknowledge that they had understood what had been said (which they clearly didn’t). When questioned (often open ended and non-directed) the children would stand up to give their one word answer. Lessons are taught in English (the weakest language for most students), but Xhosa is also used to aid understanding as for most this is their first language. The end of each lesson is signalled by a bell rung by one of the students (it is fair to say that he is one of the best time keepers in the vicinity). The toilet blocks are basic (outdoor holes in the floor that are apparently full), so the younger students opt for queuing to meet the call of nature in the nearby shrubbery. Wednesday afternoons are dedicated to sport, so we change into appropriate attire and throw ourselves wholeheartedly into organising some activities using the new sports equipment donated to the school by us. We teach and play games of Netball, Rounders and Cricket. Students thoroughly enjoy themselves, even staying past the end of school (as do some of the teachers to support the various activities). Skipping ropes, footballs, and throwing toys are also used for individual and small group play. The school day ends at 3pm when we finally head home to reflect on the day. There is so much to be done in the school, particularly in terms of resources and security, development of programmes for the pupils and the support of teachers to plan and prepare their lessons. It is encouraging that at this early stage we are already being asked for help by some of the staff.
The evening closes in around us at great speed, with sunset at around 5pm. The strong breeze that had persisted throughout the day finally drops, along with the temperature. It is however pleasant enough for a walk to the top of the village in order to send a text home. We are informed that the village only has mobile phone reception in a couple of locations, so the idea of modern technology is not totally beyond reach. We also use this time to demonstrate to one of the teachers how to use a pair of binoculars, and are amused by the fact that he sees one of his friends across the valley using the toilet. It is the little memories such as this that will remain with me forever!

Teacher's Travelogue - Summer 2006

In the summer term of 2006, two teachers from Zanyeni School visited Borlase and took part in Arts week activities. Mr. Mjekajela and Mrs. Zibi accompanied students on trips, worked with technology and performing arts and taught a taster lesson in Xhosa.
At the end of term, Mrs. Farmer, Mrs. Bond and Dr. Holding went to S. Africa to spend two weeks in the village and work at Zanyeni. There they worked with the teachers to further the work done in previous visits on lesson planning and to introduce new teaching and learning activities. Mrs. Bond worked mainly with the foundation phase (yrs R-3) whilst Mrs. Farmer focused on the intermediate phase maths and science, and Dr. Holding concentrated on the intermediate phase English.
You can see a slide show of photos of our time in the village here.
We would like to express our gratitude to the teachers of Zanyeni school and the people of the village of Setabataba for their warm welcome and generous hospitality.
The link that has been established between our schools, has enriched the lives of all of those who have become involved. Progress takes time, but there are definite signs of change. Mr. Ntoya, the headmaster of Zanyeni commented to Dr. Holding, ‘When you first came, it was an event. Now we know it is a process.’
The teachers and learners of Zanyeni have become our friends. I echo the words of Mrs. Sello, third grade teacher, who said, ‘I have gained.’

R. G. Bond