Award winners set example at school
TIRELESS community worker Phuti Rakgophala and her Pulamadibogo Permaculture Orphans and Vulnerable Resources Centre are shining examples of selflessness, sharing, caring and nurturing.
This humble winner of innovative early childhood development programmes in the 2009 South African ECD Awards is principal of the Pulamadibogo Primary School at Mankweng, east of Polokwane, in Limpopo.
This previous winner of the Premier's Award - among other kudos - is among several other award winners for academic and community-building excellence. The rest of the teaching staff and auxiliary workers at the school also carry an almost equal amount of dedication.
A former teacher at the school, David Modiba, is a former winner of the prestigious Aggrey Klaaste Maths, Science and Technology Educator of the Year Award. Modiba still keeps in touch with the school, explained Rakgophala in an interview at the school recently "because here we are a family and we all lead by example, both individually and collectively".
The other top achievers are Mmaphiri Mamabolo for the Edu Plant Greening Award, MP Motlhake and her team for having nurtured a world-winning schools rugby team and Stephina Rakgoale and her coaching team, who are in charge of a competitive schools cricket team.
Rakgophala, who was a finalist in the 2008 Shoprite Woman of the Year Award, said she, Modiba and other teachers and pupils have set the trend of giving part or all of their award proceeds to the school.
Rakgophala's R15000 prize money from the Premier's Award has been used for a palisade fence for safety and security.
"We have earmarked the R20 000 prize money from the ECD Awards for direly needed support materials for our pupils. Modiba's prize money was used to erect a new block," Rakgophala said.
Among other good things at the school, the parents have built four new classrooms. A local businessman, Solly Mohale, donated R12000 to help the parents.
We met parents Ephraim Thabane and Mamsy Mamabolo, who help around the school. Thabane takes care of the permaculture side of the school, ensuring that the school's poultry projects continue to feed destitute children and augment the school's coffers by selling eggs, chickens and fruits and vegetables to the community.
"We are also nurturing future pharmacists, biologists and agricultural scientists by ensuring that each pupil takes a turn in the gardens and the poultry sheds to learn about the herbs and the diverse farm produce," Rakgophala said.
Mamabolo helps keep the classrooms clean and with the sale of the fresh produce. Twenty-three other parents help the school with security, catering, cleaning and gardening.
One of the teachers, a man, inducting the school's eight ECD classes, is Dibakgeng Modiba. They use the latest innovative methods and this has ensured that their charges do well from Grade 1 onwards.
Reading, writing and competitive articulation is encouraged through books. Pupils buy books for only R3 each. Reading club-like sessions yield individual and group winners and the winners are given more books as prizes for their exemplary efforts.
One disturbing snag at the school is its asbestos roof. Asbestos causes asbestosis, inflammation of the lungs caused by inhaling asbestos. Parents and teachers worry about whether the children are affected over the seven years they spend at Pulamadibogo before venturing to higher primary school.
· The South African ECD Awards is a project of Absa, Sowetan, SABC Education, Unicef, South African Congress for ECD, the Jim Joel Fund and the national social development and basic education departments.