Cotton On Foundation begins Ethekwini Primary School redevelopment
The redevelopment of the Ethekwini Primary School began last month as part of the Cotton On Foundation’s mission to create 20,000 quality educational places by 2020. The redevelopment means that one of the oldest schools in the KwaMashu Township of South Africa will be able to comfortably accommodate 1280 students up to Grade seven, who will no longer have to complete their primary education in neighboring communities. Before the upgrade, there were 150 students to a classroom and due to lack of space and resources, the students could only attend from grade R to grade six.
The Cotton On Foundation was introduced to the Ethekwini Primary School in 2015 as a result of a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation to deliver five shipping container libraries to schools in South Africa. Tim Diamond, General Manager of the Cotton On Foundation believes that education is an important step in creating sustainable development in under resourced regions, saying:
“Education empowers individuals, it builds economies and it reduces inequalities”
The students of the school will soon have access to new and improved classrooms, nutrition infrastructure and programs to provide nourishing meals for every student, every day. They will also have access to the WASH program which aims to educate students about safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene.
“Ensuring young people around the world have access to education is a step towards ending extreme poverty” says Diamond. To provide the teachers at Ethekwini with the skills they need to help us achieve this goal, twenty-four teachers were given the opportunity to attend developmental workshops. Support and training for the teachers at the school continues.
For enduring success and equality for all members of the KwaMashu community into the future, the Cotton On Foundation will also educate students about Girls empowerment through programs that aim to improve young girls’ resilience, strength and school attendance.
The Foundation has applied to the Ethekwini Primary School redevelopment its Quality Education Model a Quality Education Model, guided by its values and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. “Quality education requires safe, equipped spaces for teaching, skilled and supported staff, good nutrition and programmes that empower learners,” says Diamond.
The QEM was developed through thoughtful collaboration between education specialists, consultants and our teams on the ground to facilitate the aim of providing the right resources, environment and tools to ensure that each student can receive a quality education.
The Foundation has pledged to invest R100-million into education projects throughout South Africa over the next five years to help advance us towards our goal of reducing poverty and improving the quality of life for youth in the country. Once the Ethekwini project has been completed, projects in the Western Cape and Gauteng provinces will begin to provide ongoing support of these communities.
The Cotton On Foundation will also continue to collaborate and consult with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and community leaders throughout the development of Ethekwini Primary School and the following scheduled projects to assure that the needs of each individual community is being met.
“We want our work to be scalable and sustainable across multiple developing regions – our goal is widespread change in the lives of young people in South Africa,” says Diamond.
In addition to the Ethekwini Primary School, several community engagement activities are already in motion in South Africa as part of a commitment to global youth empowerment. One of these activities is the ‘Nutrition Mission KwaMashu’, an eight-day program covering basic nutrition, common health problems, hygiene, kitchen equipment and safety, and practical cooking lessons that equips participants with healthy recipes and the skills to bring them to life. Ten ‘Nutrition Mission’ programs were delivered in the Ethekwini community throughout 2017 resulting in 184 graduates, 90 of which were caregivers of students from Ethekwini primary school.
It is estimated that through the completion of the redevelopment, the Cotton On Foundation will have provided 10,000 learning places bringing us to the halfway point of our 20,000 by 2020 goal.