Community Participation Is Key In Education Development

For many decades before democracy, many South African communities were denied the opportunity to actively participate in development projects in their communities. Since then, community participation and involvement has evolved into a fundamental area of development. This can be seen in government and corporate interventions that aim to better and uplift the lives of the community. This phenomenon is no different when it comes to our education system and the role of parents and the community at large play in the delivery of inclusive education. 

Private Public Partnerships in education development are most effective when the beneficiary/es of the partnership also participate in the process. With this, the De Beers Fund partnered with the Free State Department of Education and KST for the construction of Phuleng Primary School in Kroonstad which falls within the Fezile Dabi Education district.

The De Beers Consolidated Mines’ Voorspoed mine’s Rural School Development Programme, which aims to address infrastructure needs for local schools and leave a legacy for communities partnered with KST’s District Whole School Development model. In this partnership, De Beers Consolidated Mines and the  Free State Department of Education made a significant investment, with KST acting as an implementing agent in the construction of 20 new classrooms, one  ablution block , a Grade R section with three new classrooms,  a media centre that consists of a library and computer centre, a nutrition centre that consists of a kitchen and dining centre and a sports field with change rooms. The facilities will benefit 882 learners and 27 educators.

KST has been implementing the District Whole School Development programme in the Fezile Dabi and Motheo districts since 2013, and one of the programme interventions is school infrastructure development which is aimed at enabling a conducive teaching and learning environment for both learners and educators. This intervention places community participation and parental involvement in the centre of its success.

To give credence to the principle of community participation and parental involvement, the Phuleng Primary School construction project is ably run by a Project Steering Committee constituted by local civil society members, including SGB members (representing the parents), Ward Councillors, Community Liaison Officer and the school principal, amongst others. Local community entrepreneurs in the form of SMMEs, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled parents reap economic benefits in this project. Since the project started in October of 2018, approximately 95 temporary jobs have been created.

“ It was important that the community of Maokeng participate in this project from the onset to ensure that it empowers the community to participate and ultimately own and protect the facilities for the benefit of the current land future learners in the community,” said Themba Mola, KST CEO.

Since the sod turning that took place in October 2018, construction phase has made significant progress with the completion anticipated for December 2020. 

Below points outline completed progress:

  • Brickwork completed for 5 x 4 blocks of classrooms                                                                                  
  • Roof sheeting completed for 5 x 4 blocks of classrooms                                                                               
  • Brickwork for Media centre, Ablution block, Nutrition centre and Grade R, at wall plate level                           
  • Ceiling completed for 1 x 4 block of classrooms  

“The project Steering Committee will continue to thoroughly engage the community and provide opportunities available as well as continuously provide clarity on the processes that are used to select sub-contractors and low-skilled labourers when required,” concluded Mola.