Western Cape Education on donating meals and online safety curriculum for learners

13 May 2020

Western Cape schools serve over 1 million meals to learners during lockdown

Over 1 million meals have been served in the past month as part of the Western Cape Education Department’s emergency school feeding programme.

This is a tremendous achievement, made possible by the school staff, management teams, volunteers, and WCED officials who answered the call to feed vulnerable children.

The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) itself does not usually run during school holidays. However, this is not ‘business as usual’.

The WCED could not ignore the impact of the lockdown on the nutrition of school learners who rely on the programme, and we needed to find a way to support these learners.

With additional funding from the Provincial Treasury for emergency feeding, WCED schools began to provide takeaway meals for learners through an emergency programme across the Province in the week of 6-10 April 2020.

Since then, over 1.2 million meals have been served to learners!

(1 222 082 meals to be exact as of 12 May 2020)

An average of 65 000 learners receive food on each of the two days a week that meals are served.

This is a massive achievement, especially in the environment in which we all live in now.

This achievement lies solely on the shoulders of those who fought hard to get the programme up and running and those that were on the ground ensuring that meals were provided and safety protocols were in place.

A very big THANK YOU to all the members of our school communities, as well as departmental officials, who have committed themselves to ensuring that vulnerable learners do not go hungry.

We are also very grateful to the many organisations, businesses and personal contributions from families and the farming community to supplement meals.

They have all shown just what is possible when we work together as a team. They are true value-drivers!

Interactive lesson plans helps you keep up with curriculum from home

The Western Cape Education Department recently launched a new lesson planning platform intended to assist teachers, parents and learners with learning at home.

The platform would allow teachers, parents and learners to access weekly lesson plans and resources that were in line with the curriculum and focused on the key concepts/skills/values to be developed when covering subject topics over the school year.

The interactive platform included all subjects covered each week in the curriculum and contained resources, activities, images, stories, lesson plans and video lessons. 

It provided an opportunity to “keep up with curriculum” from one’s own home!

To expand access to these lessons, a new WhatsApp interactive platform was developed.  Lessons via this platform would be sent to teachers via district directors and subject advisors. These could then be distributed to learners and parents via their teachers. By just touching on the Resources or Lesson Plan buttons per subject, anyone using the lessons would have access to related resources, activities, images, stories, lesson plans and video lessons. 

It is also available on the WCED’s ePortal: https://wcedeportal.co.za/partners 

Learners provided with data for online learning

Qhayiya Secondary School in Hermanus provided Grade 12 learners with 1Gb WhatsApp data to enable them to stay in contact with their teachers during the lockdown.

Principal Nkosilungile Lolwana said they realised that they had to make a plan after finding that some learners did not have data for online learning. “We started a Facebook page to upload school work and information provided by the Western Cape Education Department, but not all learners had access to Facebook.”

A teacher at Hermanus High School assisted Qhayiya Secondary to get sponsors for data for 200 learners.

The two schools have a history of working together.  Hermanus High invites Qhayiya’s Grade 12 learners to their annual Spring School for subjects like Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and Accounting. 

Lolwana said while remote teaching and learning is very challenging for his school, the senior learners especially were concerned about their studies and responded eagerly to the work given by teachers. The teachers went out of their way to try and follow up with non-responsive learners.

Lolwana said the school was doing everything possible to a help teachers and learners navigate uncharted territory. “We would like to thank our sponsors for their support.”

Online Safety Curriculum for learners and parents

The Western Cape Education Department is working with Google to provide individual lessons for high school learners and parents on online safety.

The WCED partnered with Google to develop an Online Safety curriculum that seeks to teach learners the fundamentals of digital safety. This curriculum was piloted last year so that areas for development could be identified.

The pilot identified a number of successes and challenges, and was used to revise the curriculum before rolling out the lessons as part of the Life Orientation curriculum.

Western Cape Education Minister, Debbie Schäfer, said in a media statement that the lockdown has made the delivery of the Online Safety Curriculum even more important as children are spending much of their time on the internet and social media – both for learning and for entertainment.

Ismail Teladia, Senior Curriculum Planner: Life Orientation/Life Skills, said a set of specific lessons will be made available to learners and parents while everyone is still at home.

 “The lessons will include YouTube videos for both learners and parents for better understanding the implications of actions on social media. The lessons will be grade specific and the first set of lessons will be available on the e-Portal by the end of this week.”

Learners and parents can also visit the cyber wellness page on the WCED website, which has workbooks, documents and advice on topics such as safe cell phone use, and tools to prevent cyber bullying: https://wcedonline.westerncape.gov.za/elearning/elearning-cyber-wellness

Kewtown “family of teachers” feeding programme

Ebrahim Abrahams and his family were so touched by the plight of less fortunate children in Kewtown, Athlone, during the lockdown that they started feeding them from their own pockets.

The Grade 6 teacher at Kewtown Primary School explained that they are a “family of teachers”. His wife and son teach at Strandfontein High and Alexander Sinton High respectively, one daughter is a lecturer at the University of Cape Town and another daughter is a second year B Ed student at Stellenbosch University.

Abrahams had been saving to buy a car for his daughter when she completed her PhD, however, when the lockdown began, they decided to use some of these funds to feed the hungry. 

“I spoke to my family to start a feeding programme and they supported me. They even contributed.”

The food is cooked at home and pre-packed for delivery. It is then distributed by five women who are connected to his school. Abrahams said the fe 

started off on the first day of the lockdown with 200 meals, but it quickly grew to 500 meals per day for five days a week.

“My greatest pleasure from this venture was to see the happiness on children's faces whenever I pulled up in the car. They were grateful and would tell me how much they appreciated my gesture. A pensioner sent me the following message: you must not get sick as I do not know what will happen to these children. They are waiting anxiously for you on feeding days.”

A wonderful act of caring and kindness shown by Mr Abrahams and his family.

Witzenberg Matric Fund helps alleviate hunger

For the past four years, the Witzenberg Matric Fund (WMF) has helped several matriculants from the Ceres area to further their studies.

The fund will now also come to the aid of people who face hunger due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Sarel Brown, WMF Chairperson, said they received R7 000 in donations to the feeding fund to provide meals to residents. This follows an appeal by a former resident and journalist, Jacob Rooi, to businesses and individuals to contribute to the fund.

Rooi encouraged people who are in a more privileged position to help those less fortunate by making a small monthly donation. “You can deposit money in a fund that is credible, corruption free and not politically driven, and is managed by people who have already proved that they care for poor students from Witzenberg.”

Over the years, the bursary fund supported deserving students with amongst others, transport, food, books and laptops. “We strive to give a message of hope by providing funds to further their studies after Grade 12. When learners enter Grade 8, they are made aware of the fund to inspire them to work hard towards a prosperous future beyond Grade 12. They have to realise that a quality pass in Grade 12 will open doors of learning to them and ultimately lead to a better future,” Brown said.

He added that the Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) Emergency Feeding Programme at schools provided much needed relieve to community members who were left without an income due to the lockdown. The fund will be used to continue to provide food to the community.

The WMF is a registered Non-profit organisation and the principals of the eight high schools serve on the management.

Individuals and businesses can donate to the feeding fund by using the reference WSF (Witzenberg Saamstaan Fonds).

The banking details: FNB Cheque Account
Account name: Witzenberg Matric Fund
Account number: 62590819565
Branch Code: 20-01-07