Molo Mhlaba spread their wings

Khayelitsha’s first all-girls school, Molo Mhlaba, is breaking ground at a new campus in Montclare.

Molo Mhlaba school is on a mission to transform girls’ lives through education and development so that they can be fearless in shaping their future.

This comes after the school officially launched the construction of their newest campus in Montclare, which is next to Mandalay, on Thursday April 27, where the cold and rainy and weather could not dampen the good spirits at the ribbon cutting.

Molo Mhlaba is a non-profit school that started in 2018 and offers science, technology, engineering, art and design and maths, with its main school at Harare Square, in Khayelitsha.

Founder and director of the school, Dr Rethabile Moshale Sonibare, said they were celebrating the opening of their third campus.

Montclare is a middle-class, up and coming community but it is an area that does not have a school, she said. They are hoping to start with the construction of phase one at the end of May but are currently busy with the community engagement process. They are hoping that the first construction phase would take six months and would start with Early Childhood Development (ECD).

“You cannot just start laying bricks,“ she said. ”You need to follow due process.“

However, they were excited about this journey because they now have a legacy campus that they will leave behind, she said.

“When one who thinks about education, one must not think five years ahead but must think 50 years into the future because it is an institution that will hold the dreams and aspirations of that community,“ she said.

One of the school’s key missions, she said, was training teachers and thereby creating job opportunities.

Asked how the school started, she said she was running an after school programme at Chumisa Primary School from 2013 to 2016 where they taught coding and robotics.

She then realised that the programme, which assisted 500 children, was patching the learning being done during school hours because every class and learner were on different levels, even if they were in the same grade. The only way to control the curriculum, she said, and instil a culture of leadership, global thinking and self-confidence, was to control the school day.

“We want to give black parents an alternative school for their children. The fact that you live in Khayelitsha should not mean that your children will be exposed to public schools only but you should have the option to choose.

“We want to build value in education. In our communities we talk about Ubuntu but many times it is just a throwaway phrase and we want to bring that back through our education.

“We expect the school to be ready by the 2024 school year, hence we have started with the building now already. We are on a mission to build 10 schools and it seems that we are on track.

“We might be legally constituted as a private school but we operate like other community schools and we are a non-profit school. We are a girls-only school,“ she said.

Moghan Africa, Cultural Care Kids First Foundation, an au pair agency helping young adults take part in a cultural exchange experiences with American host families, said quality education is the most important tool to empower the next generation.

She said they are thrilled to be part of the new campus for Molo Mhlaba as they are also driven and inspired by the dreams of young women to learn about other cultures and to grow personally and professionally.

Department of Education spokeperson, Bronagh Hammond, confirmed that Molo Mhlaba is a registered independent school which has been previously previously subsidised by the WCED. Their current application is under review, she said.

“The Helderberg area is a hotspot area in terms of admissions demand given an influx of pupils into the area over recent years,“ she said.