Day 2: The Townships

The goal for my writing whilst I’m here has to be to get it all down whilst I’m still to close to my experiences to have perspective.
Our first full day began with a trip to the Liwa Primary School which is where we’ll be conducting the bulk of our workshops over the course of the next three weeks. Honestly, John got it best during tonight’s debriefing when he said conditions at the school were better than he’d expected. From our Skype planning chats and this morning’s cursory drive through the townships, I wasn’t entirely certain what to expect. Two padlocked, razor-wired gates later and we were in.
The tech capabilities within the school include a 25-station PC lab with a 3-gig monthly Internet cap and three Smart Boards.
Now, I enjoy my interactive white board, but I can’t say as I’d sacrifice any of SLA’s student laptops for it. Think of the netbooks the school could have purchased.
After the school and a planning meeting to go over Monday’s schedule, we headed into Cape Town proper for lunch at a Muslim restaurant.
Konaye, our guide for our township tour this afternoon, met us at the restaurant and arranged for a friend of his from the neighborhood to give us some history on that section of town. What I learned whilst waiting for our appetizers would fuel a world history class for at least a semester.
I’m still sorting it all out. I likely will be for quite some time.
From lunch, we loaded into a van for the township tour.
I need to pause for a moment. “Township,” until today, had painted a quaint idyllic picture in my head.
In Cape Town, the townships are where black Africans and colored Africans were relocated after the displacement of Apartheid.
One family on top of another, on top of another in buildings of scap wood or corrugated metal.
According to Konaye, the government of Cape Town plans to have properly constructed government subsidized housing for the 2.5 million families who need it by 2014. I shared his doubt in the achievement of that goal.
The question Noble posed to one 23-year-old man who was working on completing his diploma in IT was what had kept him in school rather than dropping out.
“Education is something no one can take away from me,” he responded.
Clearly, someone put this guy, the eldest of 7 children who lives in a 3-bedroom apartment with his siblings an mother and father, the value of an education.
With the amazingly high dropout rate and sheer number of students in need of an education here, I wonder how to help make a difference and help teachers here communicate that same value to their students.

2 thoughts on “Day 2: The Townships

  1. Oh Zac! I cannot begin to imagine! What a photo…it must be so overwhelming, but Zac, think of what you have done for us as FW teachers. Just who you are, no matter where you go, makes a difference…and so here too. You are there for a reason.
    Much love

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