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Jun 01, 2012

Grassroots leadership key to successful education

Construction|Expertise|Building|Cement|Education|Lafarge|Lafarge Education Trust|Projects|Training|Cement Maker|Maintenance|Western Cape|Cheryl Carolus|Gerrit Olivier|Mpogeng Nkgadima|Semwase|Operations
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The leadership of primary school and high school teachers and principals in the development of excellent schools in rural communities is extremely important in motivating and stimulating school children to perform well, says North West Department of Basic Education deputy director SM Semwase.

“Leadership in difficult circumstances is important to effect change,” she said, speaking at a student achievement ceremony in Bodibe rural community, near Lichtenburg, in the North West province.

“What we see are learners in class on time and learning, teachers educating, and clean, neat schools within a very constrained budget. Leadership of these schools, and the leadership displayed by principals and educators, as well as the learners in the community, demonstrate that everyone has a role to play, as primary school excellence feeds into high schools,” she says, adding that the North West province achieved very good matric results, placing it behind only Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Inspiring learners early on can help them to identify technical careers and inspire them to take up diverse fields of endavour, including skills needed by industry and society, says cement maker Lafarge special projects manager Gerrit Olivier. The Lafarge Education Trust adopted a number of schools in the area under the Adopt a School initiative.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the impact made by the Lafarge Education Trust. “There are so many things to do, as the Department of Basic Education, that we cannot cover the backlog of investment and input needed into the schools without such help,” says Semwase.

“It is in the interest of learners that we invest in learners, and this input from the Lafarge Education Trust is important; but learners must work hard – which is what we have observed,” says Lafarge Education Trust chair-person Cheryl Carolus.

“We have to inspire learners for youth development, acknowledge their achievements and the difficult challenges they have over-come,” she noted at the awards.

Further, mathematics and the sciences are important subjects for children to take, says Lafarge Education and Community Trusts programme manager Mpogeng Nkgadima.

“The [Lafarge] plant in Lichtenburg will live for years beyond you and me, and only the community in that area will be able to provide the people required to keep the plant running. “The fact that students are achieving well and improving in maths and the sciences makes us proud, and leadership will emerge from this.”

Lafarge’s Lichtenburg cement plant was built in 1948 and Lafarge has spent R1.2-billion over five years on upgrading and expanding the plant for future production, notes Olivier.

“We give a lot of support to schools and we start with construction materials. A lot of building is taking place, which we like to organ- ise and support, as we have the technical expertise. “We also support schools [in projects] to make bricks for themselves, and some schools make bricks as part of their construction classes,” he says.

The backgrounds of the plant’s operators, engineers and technicians are varied, with some starting with a matric certificate and plant training and then furthering their studies, while others come from academic backgrounds and acquire experience in physical operations and maintenance.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
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