North-West of Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday June 7th 2020.
The skies are eerily silent over the dry winter landscape of Lanseria International Airport, South Africa. Noise and excitement are close by though on this landmark day. In fact, some 2.5km (as the crow and the Boeing 737 flies) from the threshold of runway 07, the Grade 12 class of Kwena Molapo Secondary Farm School are back at their desks.
Partnering for Progress
Although there are thousands of stories of how the reopening of schools in South Africa has unfolded, this story highlights one of TIMCA’s partner schools. At Kwena Molapo, like in many other schools, the staff was naturally concerned about what going back to school would mean for them and their learners. Concerns were largely around the school’s readiness and ability to keep staff and learners safe. The deadly impact of a virus sweeping over our country and our world being top of mind. What began as fear and uncertainty, soon turned into determination and teamwork. TIMCA’s Sipho Mpisane was there to see the education phoenix rise from the ashes of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Failing to plan is planning to fail…
Two weeks prior to opening its doors to the first group of learners, Sipho witnessed what collaboration between educator leaders and private enterprise can achieve. Rolling up their sleeves and working together, they ensured that the school was safe and ready for the resumption of teaching and learning. The preparations began with the deep-cleaning of all the classrooms and common areas in the school. All the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE’s) were then secured and distributed to all staff and Grade 12 learners.
A week prior to learning D-Day, the school planned and facilitated training and induction for staff and learners on all the required COVID-19 health and safety protocols. As a result of this thorough planning, there was a change in the general atmosphere among the school’s staff and learners. They walked through the gates for the first time in 10 weeks with anxiety and uncertainty. They exited calm, with a sense of readiness to tackle the tasks ahead. “StrongerTogether” the mantra.
Perseverance is the Key
This is an encouraging example of how a school community can rise up under extremely trying times and circumstances, working together with one purpose to ensure the education of learners under safe conditions. This school, like many others in similar conditions, had many valid reasons to not even attempt to climb the mountain before them. The legion of excuses so prevalent in our national malaise (“we are a poor school”, “we lack resources”, “we won’t put our lives in danger”) do not exist at Kwena Molapo. This was all banished to the scrapheap of negativity, as these tenacious educators ensured they were ready. Ready to guide their learners through the dark and foreboding days of COVID-19, the trials of Grade 12 and a future of uncertainty.
Hope for the Future
The Kwena Molapo story is one of hope. It is a beacon of light in the mirk and gloom that has descended on the nation at this time of immense crisis. For TIMCA, Sipho Mpisane carries that beacon. He is a young educator steadfast in his resolve to make South Africa a better place for all its people. TIMCA salutes Sipho and the educators, pupils, parents and benefactors associated with Kwena Molapo Secondary Farm School. True South African Heroes.