Christel House South Africa in the Spotlight

Business can help create tech-savvy learners

Teaching is changing and, in many ways becoming a much more difficult job, but having access to technology can really make a difference. This is according to Ronald Fortune, high-school principal of Christel House South Africa (CHSA), an independent school that provides scholarships and a holistic education to poor children in Cape Town.

“We are living with an information age overload and there is huge expectation that students will learn high-level skills such as how to access, evaluate, analyse, and synthesise vast quantities of information. Yet so often this is not possible because many schools, especially in poorer areas, do not have access to the technology necessary to facilitate this.

“I want to encourage those schools to go into partnership with private companies who have a vested interest in education and specifically in helping create a technologically savvy new generation of learners. All schools are responsible for assisting to meet the goals of increasing the number of engineers, doctors and other professionals that will help drive economic growth, but schools do not have to do it alone,” he said.

According to Fortune, Christel House is privileged to be in partnership with the Dell Development Fund that has, in the past two years, donated more than R2 million worth of computers and other technological equipment to the school “making a huge difference to the way teaching is taking place”.

Fortune says that with the help of Dell and their development fund, Christel House is improving the quality of their teaching and the overall education experience of their learners. Their investment in the school will go a long way to helping Christel House make teaching literacy, mathematics and science more stimulating.

“Last year when the Dell Development Fund first came on board as a sponsor, they helped us to fully equip two computer rooms at the school, a donation that was worth a staggering R1.9 million. Recently they donated smart boards and other equipment like web cameras to the value of R800 000, they also sponsored R150 000 towards school uniforms.”

Fortune says that in the coming weeks each class will be fitted with their own smart boards and web cameras and the entire faculty are excited and eager to see the creativity, innovation and indeed amazing difference that these technologies will make for the school. In a show of gratitude, Christel House invited Dell’s managing director, Stewart van Graan, and the rest of the Development Fund team to celebrate the donation and spend time with the teachers and students, who are all very appreciative of their brand new gadgets.

Van Graan, who spent two days at Christel House reading to learners and even helping with lunch time duty, said that the Dell Development Fund is dedicated to projects and initiatives that deliver real value to learners and real benefits that create sustainable development and economic transformation in South Africa. [member]

“I believe that technology can and will provide the tools necessary for these learners to not only be successful, but become significant to the future of South Africa,” he said. During his visit he encouraged learners to think about their future careers, saying that as part of the Dell Development Fund agenda, they also take on university interns every year. He said that Christel House learners who pass well and make it into university would be the kind of students they would be proud to have training at their company.

“Christel House is a unique school, and I have had the privilege of seeing that first hand. Our partnership with this school is an honour and we are proud to have the opportunity of turning the hopes of these young people into reality,” he said.

Singapore Junior Olympics 2010 – Well Done Wanda…

Wanda Matshaya returned from the Junior Olympics on Saturday the 28th August 2010 after leaving on the 7th of August. Sunday the 8th Wanda Matshaya and myself went to Thembisa accompanied by the Soweto team and participated in the Youth Olympic Day held at the local Stadium.

The Monday we left on women’s day to Hong Kong and then to Singapore. We had a fantastic welcome and acceptance into the Olympic Village. Before leaving we received our tracksuits which were very eye catching. We received many compliments from the other countries. Our Chef de Mission had daily meetings with us, explaining what was expected of us.

The fencing hall was in the I.C.C. Building and run by m/s Loo Luan Luan. She was someone that I knew from the previous competitions and in turn was a great help to us. We competed on the 17th and 18th of August. Besides the training they also had an educational program to follow. The surprise of the day came when it was announced in our meeting that Wanda Matshaya was chosen by SASCOC to be the flag bearer at the opening ceremony. The first day was the individual event and Wanda’s results were as follows:-

Her Ranking was 60th.
She lost to:
Romania (Ranked 3rd) 5-3
Russia (Ranked 2nd) 5-1
Korea (Ranked 11th) 5-2
Argentina (Ranked 5th) 5-3

She beat:
Great Britain (Ranked 4th) 4-5

In the direct Elimination she lost to:
Argentina (Ranked 5th) 15-10

Her end Result was 11th.

The following day we competed team events which was continents competing against each other. Wanda teamed up with Egypt for Africa and competed against the Americans. She scored 4 of 5 points against her opponent. We ran out of time and lost 24-28.
Randall Daniels, Christel House South Africa~Coach & Teacher

Christel House kids go ape for new organic jungle gym

For the Grade R learners of Christel House, an independent school for disadvantaged children in Ottery Cape Town, playtime has just become a lot more interesting. The school recently received a brand new jungle gym, unlike any other and its fascinating architecture combines both fun and essential learning in a safe way.

The organically built jungle gym, which learners look forward to playing on during every interval, was developed by a company called Dream Weavers. Owner of the company, Jay Duffet, says that his jungle gyms are made to be a magical place for children to climb, play and daydream, free of harsh poisons.

“Jungle gyms, particularly in South Africa, make use of CCA treated timber. The CCA stands for Chromium, Copper chloride plus Arsenic – these are all quite toxic chemicals,” says Duffet. He adds that his jungle gyms are built using organic wood and is coated using only natural oils, making it a much safer alternative.

But what makes Dream Weaver jungle gyms even more special is the fact that it has a very unconventional design. Duffet says that most jungle gyms are built using straight lines, which doesn’t require a child to think much about how to get from point A to point B. “Our jungle gyms are designed more like a huge tree – with branches in all directions. This really gets the child exercising their hand-eye coordination, gets them thinking faster and improves their problem-solving skills,” he says.

Duffet says that with this jungle gym children are also able to touch, feel and navigate their way around and this develops their gripping and climbing skills, which in turn develops their fine and gross motor skills.

Teachers of Christel House are just as excited by the jungle gym as the leaners – they agree that it is exactly the kind of playing equipment ideally suited for Christel House since the school is big on unconventional methods of teaching and learning. They are thus very grateful to Kerry Oelz, daughter of well known philanthropists Ernest and Bendalyn Stemple, for sponsoring the jungle gym for the school.

The Ernest and Bendalyn Stemple Foundation has for many years been making a significant contribution to charities in South Africa, specifically focusing on children’s and education organisations. According to Oelz, she came across Christel House while on a search to find a school that was doing something different and which operated only on donations. She says that Christel House really appealed to her because of their unique approach to education. “This school does so much for underprivileged children. They provide them with holistic learning, feed and nurture them and at the end of the day make a real difference in improving their lives and futures. I am so happy that I could do my bit for the Grade R’s who are now starting their Christel House journeys. Oelz plans to be involved with the school for years to come, but she says this is small change compared to the real difference Christel House is making for future generations of children. [/member]