Close to 30 years after it opened its doors, Tafelsig High School unveiled its R6 million school hall on Saturday April 1.
School Governing Body (SGB) chairman Anwar Jacobs said the day marked a milestone in the history of the school and that it was a culmination of the efforts and unbridled passion of teachers and the school community.
“The launch of this hall is a lighthouse and a beacon of hope in a community such as Tafelsig that is grappling with myriad socio-economic challenges.
“This hall is yet another tool we can use as a collective to do so much more. I firmly believe education is the path to liberation,” he said.
Pupil Tamlyn van Nelson said it was an honour for her to address the school community on such an auspicious occasion.
“We live in a community characterised by drugs, financial, social and logistical challenges. I firmly believe education is the only tool you can use to change the world. The opening of this hall gives us, as pupils, the inherent strength to stand taller,” she said.
Abdullah Solomon and Stemray Lesch of the Wheatfield Estate Foundation also handed over a cheque to principal Ruschda O’Shea during the proceedings.
Garden Cities, along with the Archway Foundation and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) had made a substantial monetary contribution to cover the cost of the construction of the school hall.
John Matthews, chief executive officer of Garden Cities, encouraged Tafelsig residents to take ownership of their school hall.
“We can talk for hours about how to deal with the challenges pupils face growing up in impoverished areas, however, the only solution is a change in mindset. I want to congratulate the school community as they now stand as a beacon of excellence in this community,” he said.
Brian Schreuder, superintendent general at the WCED, said education enlightened the masses and was the most important way to uplift communities.
“How many other Tamlyns are there in this community? This school has close to 1 200 pupils and 33 teachers and it’s critical that we endeavour to provide these pupils with the same opportunities afforded to middle-class pupils in our society,” he said.
He said the work of the WCED was not done as there are 650 schools in the Western Cape that are still without school halls.
“I also want to congratulate Garden Cities for their contribution,” he added.
Mr Schreuder praised Tafelsig High School for the steady improvement in their matric pass rate. Last year the school achieved a 93 percent pass rate with a 27 percent Bachelors pass rate.
“The school hall costs more than R6 million and the WCED contributed R2.8 million,” he added.
He told those gathered that 2017 was the year of the teacher and encouraged pupils to respect the leadership of their teachers as “teachers have the ability to touch the future”.
Mr Schreuder advised pupils to enter a classroom to learn and leave with a purpose of serving.
“Madiba fostered a culture of volunteerism, which is not widespread in our society and I want to urge people to volunteer their time to a needy cause and to help out at the school to curb anti-social behaviour among its pupils,” he said.
Premier Helen Zille said that a “school without a hall is a school without a heart.”
“Garden Cities have a been a champion. It’s important that pupils have this space to congregate come rain or sunshine. Inclement weather does not foster bonding. Back in the day school’s were built according to a certain formula and many omissions were present. These days we are doing it differently as we know school is sometimes one of the only functioning aspects of poor child’s lives,” she explained.
Principal Ruschda O’Shea was elated at the unveiling and thanked everyone for their contributions.