Bethelsdorp, Eastern Cape: Sapphire Road Primary School in Booysen Park, Bethelsdorp, has received a boost from the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS), which contributed much-needed supplies and equipment as part of its corporate social investment initiative.
At an event held at Sapphire Road Primary School recently, GEMS contributed 20 computers to the school’s existing computer laboratory, where computer literacy is taught not only to the school’s pupils but also to members of the community to empower them with new skills.
Speaking at the handover event, Zandile Nqweni-Chamane, Acting Executive: Communications and Member Affairs of GEMS said: “With computer literacy increasingly becoming a big part of our society, where the idea of a paperless society is slowly becoming a reality, it is important that we build capacity even in the most remote areas, in order to provide equal opportunity for innovative access to education to begin to groom young people for future skills and employment opportunities,” said Nqweni-Chamane.
“As GEMS, our aim is to help scale up the computer centre at Sapphire Road Primary, in order for the school to continue contributing towards skills development in the community, and enhancing its efforts in grooming a generation of tech-savvy young people.”
In addition, GEMS donated 115 full school uniforms, including shoes, to pupils who have the greatest need.
At least 90% of Sapphire Road Primary School pupils’ parents are unemployed, and the school has 40 volunteers who assist in various roles to gain new skills and work experience. Teaching assistants translate lessons into various languages so that children who do not share the teacher’s mother tongue are not disadvantaged. Other volunteers are responsible for cleaning, security, maintenance, administration, caring for orphaned and vulnerable children and taking care of the mobile library, and assisting with other extra mural activities.
The school has two thriving vegetable gardens, and volunteer gardeners help to provide food for the school nutrition programme. Surplus food produced from the school is sold to raise funds or donated towards families impacted by HIV/AIDS.
GEMS also contributed 44 food hampers for the school and its volunteers, as a gesture of appreciation for the work being done by the school’s volunteers.
Nqweni-Chamane said: “Sapphire Road Primary School is an outstanding example of community-mindedness, and the school’s persistence in positively influencing the destiny of so many people, over and above its pupils, is truly commendable.
“It is our wish to build a relationship with the school, and to nurture the relationship in order to play a part in enabling young people to realise their full potential. There is no greater source of empowerment than education, and we would like to do more for this community.”
The school’s philosophy is ‘our challenges are also our biggest blessings’, and it has worked hard to tackle some of the problems facing the community including poverty, unemployment, hunger, disease and abuse. The school has abolished school fees and instead relies on its fundraising efforts and assistance from volunteers, who are unemployed parents and members of the community.
Principal of Sapphire Road Primary School, Ms Alicia Baatjes, thanked GEMS for sharing in the school’s vision of being a catalyst for social and economic transformation. “On behalf of the Sapphire community, I would like to convey my gratitude to GEMS for the huge contribution made to our school. Our learners who received uniforms are so proud to wear them,” she said.
“Parents came to the school to express their gratitude for the blessings received from GEMS. Our volunteers are so grateful; some of them mentioned that the food parcels they received came when they really needed them. They are rendering services at our school without any remuneration, and they are very appreciative because many times they do not have a proper meal.
“The computers we received are truly a blessing. We can accommodate a full class per period for computer training, whereas in the past we could only accommodate about 15 learners for computer training per period. The learners are very excited to go for computer training. GEMS is truly caring for the community. Keep on doing great things for our communities,” she added.
Nqweni-Chamane said that GEMS wished the school, its pupils and the community it serves all the very best for the future. “We commend the school, its leadership, volunteers and pupils, and all those who contribute to its efforts to uplift the community. GEMS is hopeful that this gift to the school will help many people to grow their employment potential,” Nqweni-Chamane concluded.