Hillside Primary School in Rocklands celebrated International Children’s Day last week.
After the opening last Thursday’s event with a prayer, Jaden Gordon, 11, Nadja Matthews, 13, Thandile Mtshwelo 13, and Abdullah Bilal, 13, lit candles and displayed posters bearing pictures of missing children.
Their teacher, Faldiela Ariefdien, prayed for their safe return, with pupils repeating after her:
“Light the candle so that the light would guide all missing children back home”.
The prayer was followed by a performance by dance group Busy Bees and Grade 5 pupils sharing with the school, their plans for the future. Among them was Vuyolwethu Rhancwa, 5, who wants to be a police officer so that he can take criminals to jail, while Tawonga Longwe, 5, wants to be a firefighter so he can put out fires.
Tyler Saralina, 6, said he wants to be a soldier so that he can protect the country, while Tia Dyssel, 6, wants to be a forensic anthropologist who studies human remains to understand what caused their death.
Abigail Cloete, who organised the Children’s Day celebrations, said the main focus was on missing children. “We wanted to also encourage learners to have a good attitude towards learning and reading,” she said.
According to Ms Cloete some of the pupils at her school are still struggling to read, but are assisted by two initiatives operating at the school – Living through Learning and Read to Rise.
“We want our learners to be confident and not be deprived of opportunities just because they are not able to read,” she said.
Read to Rise programme manager Roscoe Williams who grew up in Mitchell’s Plain, shared his memories of reading with the pupils. Read to Rise, which promotes literacy in under-resourced schools, was founded in September 2015 by husband and wife team, Athol Williams (Roscoe’s older brother) and Taryn Lock. “We want to encourage children to dream. It doesn’t matter whether you’re growing up in Mitchell’s Plain. You don’t have to be a gangster,” said Mr Williams.
“I remember my teacher saying ‘Roscoe if you want to become something you must be able to read and that’s the kind of mentality I want to instil in the learners,” he said.