Riversands Primary School

4 03 2012

So, I have landed safely at home in New Jersey but there are still so many things I haven’t posted about.  For now, I’m going to continue using this blog to catch up on experiences in South Africa before I turn it back into a food blog.  Here’s a post I’ve been trying to work on, but got distracted from by my vacation in Cape Town (more on that later!):

The last Wednesday we were at AISJ, one of the women from the Teaching and Learning Center took us to Riversands Primary School, a government-run school for students living in Diepsloot.  We’ve seen schools in the after care program in Diepsloot and this was a chance to see the school while it was in session.  We met with the principal who told us a little about the class sizes and teaching conditions.

There’s an average of 50 students per class and 100 students per grade.  There are only two classrooms and two teachers per grade, so 40-50 students are literally crammed into small classrooms.  The students wear uniforms every day which for the boys includes pants, dress shoes, and sweaters.  The classrooms are not air conditioned so they are VERY hot. There is barely any room to get from one group of students to the other and they just sit in their desks working in workbooks for most of the day.

Students in a 7th grade class

More 7th grade students


We went to see classrooms in 7th and then 6th grade.  The school goes up to 7th grade and then starting in 8th the students go to a local high school. We got a chance to meet the students and see what they were learning – they have most of their instruction in English, and then also learn in Tswana, the language that most of the schoolchildren speak at home.  The students were SO excited to meet us and show us what they were learning.

Then we went to the elementary part of the school where the students were at recess.  We went to see one of the classrooms when it was empty and then children started pouring in.  These children LOVE having their pictures taken so we heard “shoot me, shoot me!” all around and the children always want to see their picture after it’s taken.  We took a lot of pictures with the kids and then after a few more roadblocks of children, we worked our way back to the main office, holding hands with children on our way up the small hill.

With some elementary students

Elementary school play 'area'

Elementary classroom - this is only half of it.

Walking with students back up to the main office

Then it started raining cats and dogs, and we all ran for thunder.  South African thunderstorms come in so quickly and are some of the strongest rains I’ve ever seen.  We huddled under the overhang next to the main office and had tickle fights with the kids and took a lot more pictures.  They are so adorable and didn’t want us to leave after the rains stopped.  Each kid wanted their own hug and kiss from each one of the five of us, so goodbyes took a long time.  Luckily they were little, otherwise I feel that we might have been overpowered by all the pulling on our arms.

All in all I think going to the school was a great experience. The school, conditions, teachers, and students, are strikingly different than at AISJ.  These are students who live in the shacks that we’ve seen in Diepsloot and walk miles to school in hot uniforms, and sometimes don’t have anything to eat at home and only are able to eat at school.  This school is literally right down the road from AISJ, and it’s so interesting that two different worlds can exist so close to one another.

Until next time!

With students under cover during the rain storm





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