The Durbanville Schools Foundation is a registered charitable trust whose mission is to improve the standard of education amongst the 11 underprivileged primary schools in the Foundation. These schools are predominantly rural farm schools, though the urban sprawl is catching up with them.
Like most rural schools, they are way behind their big city counterparts. In general they cater for the farm children in the rural areas in the outlying areas of Durbanville, and include the informal settlements on the way to Malmesbury, Paarl and Stellenbosch.
Their parents were predominantly farm labourers, though as the city spreads, more and more parents look for jobs in industry as labourers. This is not to say that they find jobs. A large proportion of children come from homes where there is no breadwinner, or are living with an extended family member while the parent or parents (many are single parent households) look for jobs in the cities. While some children are fortunate enough to have a parent or both who value education, many parents are alcohol or drug abusers to greater or lesser extents.
When the Foundation was formed just over a decade ago, most of these children never reached matric (Grade 12), with a number not even bothering to go on to secondary school (Grade 8 upwards). The reasons for the high drop out rate were many and varied, and included:
• parents requiring children to earn a living;
• discouragement by elders who themselves had never gone further than this as a result of Apartheid education;
• a home environment that led to alcohol and drug abuse; and
• for the girls, teenage pregnancies (as early as 13).
The Foundation’s stated objective is – “to increase the number of pupils that go on to matriculate from these Primary schools and to improve the standard of their matric passes”.
Through the efforts of the Foundation and its sponsors, this has changed dramatically for the better, but there is a long way to go. The Foundation works closely with the schools, so the list of requirements is endless and always growing. Funding of all kinds (larger, smaller, ongoing, one-off) is always being sought for the variety of projects on the go.
The Durbanville Schools Foundation was formed in 1997 by a group of forward thinking, concerned businessmen living or working in the greater Durbanville area, and the Trust itself was registered in 1998. The Trustees recognised that the previously disadvantaged primary schools, many of which had been farm schools, were not providing the sort of grounding that was required for the pupils to go on to high school and then matriculate. They encouraged nine primary schools to join up and secured the services of a retired headmaster, J.F. (Oom Loekie) van Wyk to act as the active trustee in advancing the capabilities of the schools through projects supported by the DSF.