West End world contenders

West End Primary School pupils who are Western Province and South African karate medal and certificate recipients.

West End Primary School is determined to be the world’s best school.

The Lentegeur school and Pinelands North Primary School are in the top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize in the “overcoming adversity” category.

T4 Education in partnership with Templeton World Charity Foundation, Accenture and American Express announced the top 10 shortlists for the World’s Best School Prize on Thursday June 9.

The schools now need fellow teachers, parents, community members, pupils and students to assist them by registering on the website https://t4.education/worlds-best-school-prizes-sign-up?hsLang=en.

Visitors to the website can view the school’s information and competition advertisement. The top three schools will be announced in September and can participate in the public advisory vote, which will further assist the judging panel to make their final decision on the winning school.

Once registered, applicants will receive news related to T4 Education and World’s Best School Prizes via email.

This allows everyone to stay informed about future announcements and participate in World Education Week, from Monday October 17 until Friday October 21.

Both schools were nominated and will now compete with eight other schools in their category from Australia, Malaysia, India, Uganda, Brazil, Jamaica, Kenya and Nigeria, for the $50 000 (about R800 000) prize for their category. The schools will now compete for the top three positions and then the ultimate prize.

As part of the competition, the schools had to create hype and wonder, to encourage support from parents and their local communities, as a build-up towards an announcement of their participation – but without mentioning the contest.

After months of whispering, the schools were finally allowed to announce their participation and now will have to complete a series of Zoom presentations and present evidence in various forms of how pupils, staff and parents had met socio-economic and adversity challenges head-on.

Principal Clive Arries said they were confident that they would make an impact and called on parents and the community to continue to support and celebrate the school’s achievements.

For the run-up to announcement, the school had enlisted international, national and local celebrities such as singer and playwright David Kramer, entertainer Emo Adams, former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga, former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, and role models to spread word on social media, videos on WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

Last week the school’s assembly was attended by 1 700 pupils, parents, special guests and members of the community in their uniquely covered quad.

“I am proud of the school and what it has achieved. We focused on the harsh conditions the school, our pupils face daily, social welfare, loss of a parent, single parent, unemployment and putting their lives in danger to get to school and return home safely,” Mr Arries said.

The school took the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments, including presenting pupils with their Western Province and South African karate certificates and medals.

They paid tribute to outstanding members of the community, a great-grandfather and volunteers – including one from New Zealand who taught mini-cricket, netball and rugby. They also acknowledged neighbours who keep an eye on the premises and ensure the smooth running of the school; as well as the Progressive Principals’ Association (PPA) founding members Achmat Chothia (former principal of Glendale High School, in Rocklands) and Riyaadh Najaar (former principal of Spine Road High School, in Rocklands), who help give voice to the underprivileged pupils.

After the announcement made by Premier Alan Winde, Mr Arries called on businesses, community organisations and government departments to help ensure pupils had the opportunity to access technical and vocational education and training.

He also mentioned a book donation of R960 000 and called on Mr Winde to help get the books into one of their two libraries.

Mr Winde recalled stepping into the school a few years back at the inaugural Cape Flats Book Festival, hosted by Read to Rise in association with the Plainsman in 2019.

The non-profit organisation, which promotes youth literacy in Mitchell’s Plain, was founded by former Westridge resident Athol Williams (“Literary feast heads to Mitchell’s Plain”, Plainsman, August 28, 2019).

Mr Arries took the opportunity to update Mr Winde by announcing that the school had three published authors following the book festival.

He also thanked fellow principals for sharing their vision, resources and advice so that they could learn from each other’s experiences. This, he said, had allowed West End Primary “to grow as an educational organisation and evolve as an organism to be able to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at our school”.

Mr Arries also called on schools to partner with businesses who wanted to give back to the community, and thanked the school nurse, Lentegeur police station and other organisations for just being a phone call away.

The school’s announcement programme was directed by Grade 6 pupil Amber Gordon, Grade 7 pupils Tina Gqambile and Caleb Captain, and sign language interpreter Imaan Bailey.

Grade 7 pupil Aluta Arosi welcomes premier Alan Winde with a traditional isiXhosa poem.

Grade 7 pupil Aluta Arosi, welcomed Mr Winde with an isiXhosa poem; and pupils from different grades participated in song and dance to mark the occasion.

In an open letter to the community, Mr Arries thanks the residents and school neighbours.

“We want to express our sincere and profound gratitude, in saying thank you, for the overwhelming support that we have received from our community, ex-learners, celebrities and even international renowned personalities,” he wrote.

“We have reached our strategic objective to create a hype and wonder, by doing so, drumming up support from especially our parents and local community.

“This has enabled us to create a ‘wow’ moment for the school when the premier made the announcement that West End is nominated as one of the top ten schools in the world,” read the letter.

Mr Winde said it was a proud day for the province and the country.

“To have two of our province’s schools shortlisted among the top 10 schools in the world in the category of ‘overcoming adversity’ is a massive achievement – setting a benchmark not only for our province but indeed the world over,” he said.

Education MEC David Maynier said he was proud of both schools and the manner in which their school communities had come together to overcome adversity.

“The fact our province’s schools were the only ones in South Africa to make it into the top 10 in any category speaks volumes about the incredible work that our principals and teachers and schools are doing to deliver quality education in the Western Cape,” he said.

Minister for Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, said school communities have had to overcome many challenges, both past and present.

“Amid these challenges, be it poverty, discrimination, gangsterism or violence, many of our schools rise above their social circumstances – overcoming adversity – and embracing opportunity. These schools have a lot to offer the world in terms of best practice,” she said.

“We are extremely proud to have not just one, but two schools representing our country on the world stage. Congratulations. We are all behind you,” said Ms Motshekga.

Grade 7 pupils Michaela Swartz and Aashiqa Spochter dance ahead of the announcement of West End Primary School’s world’s best school nomination.