In Cape Town’s largest township, Khayelitsha, lies the Zenzeleni School for Creative Education. It was founded in 1999 by teachers from Khayelitsha and in collaboration with the Centre for Creative Education (CCE), a Waldorf teacher-training college in Plumstead, Cape Town. Taking a stand for free education, they offered an alternative to governmental schooling and an opportunity to teach children to be confident and creative in finding their own way out of an inherited social and economically- disadvantaged situation.
Still being the only Waldorf-based school in the townships of Cape Town today, the school offers classes from Kindergarten (pre-school) to Grade 7 with more than 250 learners and has 11 teachers. Zenzeleni School emphasizes the strengthening of each child’s individual qualities and abilities. To educate the body and soul equally to the mind, the Waldorf curriculum covers the standard governmentally-required subjects as well as arts, crafts, music, group games, and the performance of a theatre play.
Each year a group of young German volunteers work at the school supporting the teachers in the classroom, tutoring individual children and being co-responsible for the after-school care which involves the co-ordination of sport games and swimming for Class 5 children. These volunteers are hosted and monitored by the CCE, a non-profit organisation which has been supporting Zenzeleni School since its inception and which also fundraises for the teaching programmes it offers.
Despite this support, the financial situation at Zenzeleni School is challenging. To allow the township children to be taught here, the fees have to be kept low – far below the actual cost per student. The resultant monthly deficit does not allow the school to maintain its property as well as is necessary.
A particular worry is the old wire fence surrounding the property. It has many holes, is easily cut through and as a result Zenzeleni has had many burglaries in the recent past. However, the bigger danger is the intrusion of fighting gangs through the fence and onto the school premises. There have been gunfights right in front of the school, always with the threat that fleeing opponents will direct the action onto the school grounds. This is why we are urgently looking for donations to build a strong, steel fence around the premises which will protect the learning and playing children much better than the current one.
Financial support is also needed for teaching materials, play equipment, maintenance and upgrading the school grounds and buildings, tools, educational outings, to name just some.