Silverstream Primary School in Manenberg is the latest of the 25 identified schools in the Western Cape to benefit from the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI).
It now boasts a new school building worth R60 million which was handed over by Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty, on Wednesday November 9.
Silverstream Primary is the 21st of 25 schools in the province to be completed as part of the national ASIDI. It is also one of 170 schools to be completed nationally since 2011.
The state-of-the-art school has a computer lab, 28 classrooms, a Grade R centre, a science laboratory, resource centre, as well as a multi-purpose hall and nutrition centre, where the school serves pupils meals daily.
Speaking at the event, principal Verna Ward said modern facilities not only improved the school’s physical environment, but also its learning culture.
“But the building alone cannot infuse the vision and passion that guide the school’s development. It is the human spirit and interaction between teachers and pupils which will make the difference and ensure the new building supports quality teaching and learning,” she said.
Ms Ward also gave a brief history of the school, which opened in 1977. She pointed out the highlights and challenges the school had faced, including the tornado that hit Manenberg in 1999, and destroyed many of the pupils’ homes.
“Silverstream Primary is always at the forefront of providing quality education and takes the lead to try new initiatives, while at the same time, upholding its fine tradition. The new building will be the place where Silverstream pupils will build their capacities and their aspirations, with the support of their teachers and parents. So, today marks another milestone in the development of Silverstream. This is a day of hope for the future, interwoven with good memories of old days. This is a potent mix which will ensure Silverstream Primary School continues to develop our community’s leaders for tomorrow,” Ms Ward said.
School governing body (SGB) chairman Anwar Ryklief thanked the Department of Basic Education for the “gift” of the new building.
“We, as the SGB and civic partners, realise that the infrastructure goes a long way towards better academic results. This is especially so in poverty-stricken areas. Here I define poverty not only in economic terms, but also in social and psychological language.
“Our pupils are more often raised by single parents, seeking out a living, and leaving the pupils to fend for themselves from the dark hours of the morning until dark at night.
“Facilities at school, which includes a hall where they can congregate and play games, are a place of safety and offer many young ones a sense of belonging.
“What you have given us, is not only a new school building, but spaces where young children in our society, our adults of tomorrow, can nurture the spirit of civic responsibility and respect for self and others,” Mr Ryklief said.
Ward councillor Bonita Jacobs appealed to the community to protect the building.
“Primary school education is the basis for future success. It is at this level that we begin to develop great minds and pupils who will do us proud when they move on to high school. My plea today is that we, as a community, will stand as a collective to protect this building. We will take ownership of the school to ensure it will not be destroyed,” she said.
Mr Surty said: “We come from a different past. If we do not create a better future for our children, we would have betrayed the students of 1976. This school is a beacon of hope – the epitome of where we want to go in future. I believe in the future when I look at this school. It is a no fee school and it provides daily meals for its pupils. A total of 9.7 million children are fed nationally every school day.
“Teachers, you make a big difference – and I am saying that with great gratitude and humility. If we don’t have hope in this country, we have nothing. I want to thank you for your passion – for the school’s motto: ‘Together we can achieve’. This building is only one part – the school has a very passionate group of teachers. Keep that passion and commitment. I know it can be extremely difficult in Manenberg. Thank you to the parents, teachers and pupils – together we can make a success.”
In addition to the provision of school infrastructure, the ASIDI also provided water to 615 schools, sanitation to 425 schools and electricity to 307 schools that previously did not have access to these utilities.