Jeppe’s community outreach academic support programme has taken off to an extent that no-one imagined, showing how great the need for help is at the poorly resourced schools in the area.
Headmaster, Mr Dale Jackson explains that, in the beginning, the idea was that there would be around 40 matric learners from the schools in the Kensington, Malvern and Jeppestown regions, but it has grown now into more than 200, from across the Joburg Eastern district.
“We have had to scramble to accommodate everyone within the Covid protocols, but we are coping and the teachers involved tell me that there is some good work going on in the various subjects,” Mr Jackson said.
The Jeppe learners have been able to keep up academically during the lockdown because they are generally better off and steps were taken to help those who couldn’t access the online learning that was laid on. “We are aware that learners at many schools were not as fortunate and we had to rally and help them where we can,” Mr Jackson said. “We can’t resolve the crisis that schools are in, so we decided to focus on a manageable group and called on the Gauteng Department of Education to ask schools to send those matrics who are going for Bachelor passes. We felt it would be a tragedy if learners with potential had their chances spoilt because of Covid.”
The Department supported the idea and just about all of the Jeppe senior teachers, 18 in all, volunteered to give up their holidays to be part of the programme. “Everyone was willing, the only ones who are not here are those who went away for the holiday week,” Mr Jackson said. “When I offered to pay them something out of our Covid Support Fund, every one of them said no – they insisted we keep that money for people who really need it.”
Mr Jackson’s boss is Mr Klaas Macheke, the acting circuit manager for the area where Jeppe is located. He has been at the school every day this week. “I feel uplifted and empowered by what is happening at Jeppe,” he said. “To have a principal with a transformative mindset, an SGB that allows the school resources to be used for this, and educators who are willing to give up their holiday, especially in this year, is mindblowing,” he said.
“The Department has had it’s work cut out in keeping the nutritional programme for poor schools going and just ensuring that the learners are safe. A programme like this that addresses to academic challenges that Covid brought, is just so welcome.”
Mr Jackson wants the boys at Jeppe to know that they are part of a wider community and that the school should to contribute to it where it can. “We have had sporting contacts and charity drives in the past focusing on our less privileged neighbours, this is a continuation of that and we intend making it an annual occurrence,” he said. “We see it as our responsibility.”