Our busiest August so far!
This August Project Zulu had its busiest and most successful month of volunteering in the Madadeni Township, South Africa.
For 4 years now Project Zulu has been working with the University of the West of England sending a variety of their university students to Madadeni during the summer holidays to exchange their skills with our partner schools in the township.
In 2012 we sent our first group of UWE Primary Education Students to work in the Madadeni schools for 4 weeks, sharing their newly acquired knowledge and skills whilst also learning from the local teachers. With Township Teaching solidly in place and with the support of our ambassadors Thinus Delport and Nick Koster, in 2015 we introduced Township Rugby to our summer volunteering programme. A group of rugby players were selected from UWE to volunteer their time teaching tag rugby in our township schools. The UWE players supported our new learning through sport initiative by coaching in schools and ending their volunteering with a schools tag rugby tournament.
This year we decided to go a step further. After talks with the Principals from our partner schools we identified further key ways in which staff and students from UWE could support the schools’ development. In addition to our on-going Township Teaching and Township Rugby programmes, August 2016 saw some new activities in Madadeni.
For the first time Project Zulu worked with 2 students from the Faculty of Environment and Technology who supported us by researching the water supply at Siyawela Primary School, one of our most rural schools. Siyawela and its surrounding community suffer from water shortage during their dry months. Throughout these months water availability can be a challenge and therefore it’s important that the school can keep the children hydrated. The UWE students carried out multiple surveys and have come up with proposals for future projects enabling the school to harvest and filter rainwater and end their water shortage problems.
An additional 2 students from the Faculty of Environment and Technology worked with one of their UWE lecturers on a computer networking project at Jobstown Primary School, another of our rural schools. The school was given 32 laptops by the government in 2015 but with no setup or staff training. The team of 3 improved the schools computer network infrastructure whilst also offering support to the school teachers by developing their key IT skills. This is an on-going project with the aim to make computers a regular part of lessons for the pupils by developing the teachers’ confidence when teaching with them.
2 UWE academics from the Department of Education gave one week of support around the ‘teaching of reading’. This was a key area that all 6 of our partner schools are currently struggling with and requested extra support. The UWE academics helped the school teachers develop strategies for teaching reading comprehension, an area which the schools had highlighted as a challenge. This is a key area of development that is currently affecting the pupils’ ability to do well in their school exams, as these are all written in English. The UWE academics held workshops for our partner schools, they also offered a one day teacher conference for the wider Newcastle community including all other schools in the Madadeni township and neighboring Osizweni township. A second teacher conference day was held for schools in the nearby Dannhauser township community. Altogether, around 150 local teachers benefitted from this opportunity.
Finally, a team of 3 filmmaking students from UWE's School of Film & Journalism worked with a local film maker to document all Project Zulu’s August activities.
Project Zulu would like to say a big thank you to all of our volunteers this summer who helped make each of these development projects possible. Each of these volunteers gave up their own free time and worked tirelessly to meet the needs of the schools.
We would also like to thank all of the participating schools in Madadeni who opened their doors to our team.
For further details about our on-going volunteering projects in Madadeni visit the Projects tab on our website.