Primary school celebrates half a century

From left are staff members Glenda September, Charlene Daniels, Farieda Manuel, Stephen Powell, Liezel Andries- Raaff, Sandra Bailey and Kauthar Omar.

Vanguard Primary School is celebrating 50 years of teaching and the one thing that the school is most proud of is its heritage.

The school in Doman Road started as an Afrikaans school in 1969 with two brick and mortar buildings and one prefab.

In the 1990s the school became a dual medium English and Afrikaans school and in 2003 changed to English only.

In the early days there had to be two shifts of teaching, one in the morning and one in the afternoon as there were too few classes to accommodate all the pupils at the same time, but this also changed in the 90s.

Elizabeth Daniels, who has been teaching at the school for 38 years, said the sharing of classrooms was difficult for teachers as they could not teach to their full potential or use the classrooms the way they wanted to because it was not their own.

She said when each teacher got their own classroom, after the prefabs were installed, they were able to perform better and pupils produced better results.

“It was difficult having two shifts because the attention level of the pupils arriving at noon was not the same as the pupils starting at 8am. Their mates got to go home and they only started school so a child that has been playing all morning is not excited to come and learn. Teachers were very happy when the prefabs arrived because we could use our classrooms to its full potential,” said Ms Daniels.

She said what has changed the most over the years was the amount of support the school received from parents and the community who once protected the school but now protect those who vandalise

“Back then the community looked after the school but now they vandalise it all because of drugs. Now we have to pay someone to guard the school and that is money going out which could be used for something else. Those days school was like a big happy family but now we don’t have that support,” she said.

Ms Daniels will be retiring in June this year at the age of 65.

“No matter what happened over the years I always enjoyed myself because we were always close as a staff,” she said.

Principal Rene Benjamin, who has been steering the ship since the start of the year, said the school has managed to maintain its heritage for 50 years by serving the community the best way it can – teaching and moulding its future adults.

The school currently has 872 pupils who mostly come from Heideveld, Welcome Estate, Surrey Estate, Vanguard Estate, Gugulethu and Manenberg.

The school offers extramural activities such as the choir and marimba band, mini cricket, and the Shine Strength and Youth programme.

Ms Benjamin said the biggest challenge over the years has been the deterioration of the school grounds and building due to vandalism.

She said although pupils have changed a lot from 50 years ago, the school remains determined to stick to their motto Labor Omnia Vincit, which means work conquers all.

“Learners have changed and will continue to change, but the heart of a true teacher will always stay the same. We’ll find ways of dealing with overcrowded classes, annual curriculum changes, vandalism at our schools, disrespect of teachers and limited resources due to financial constraints,” she said.

The school holds a special place in Ms Benjamin’s heart as she attended it as a child.

“This was my primary school many years back. All my siblings and most of my friends have been at this school. Today, their children and grandchildren attend this school. I am honoured to be given the opportunity to take this school forward for all the generations to come,” she said.

The school hosted a thanksgiving service on Tuesday February 26 at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Heideveld which was attended by ex-principals, teachers, staff and pupils.