Category 2: Community groups and special populationsDescription of "Our Community"
The community around our school is mainly concerned with farming, and involved in the hotel and tourism business. The children of the school live on the farms as their parents are labourers there. Some of these employers are concerned and involved in the education of their employee’s children. They encourage and motivate children to become educated by offering lifts to school, taking them or parents to hospital when sick, educate them about nutritious foods. Sometimes they even help them with money when there is a need. However, there are some employers who are totally not concerned.Summary of Our Project
The children were challenged to go out a find out about some aspect of their community, and then to write about it. The result is a set of essays describing their surroundings and the problems they face. They were exposed to what other schools had already done in their home pages, and so had an initial idea of where they were headed. With no computer facilities or experience, they were starting from behind, and it was not possible in the time available to start teaching HTML etc. This project is the start, not the end!
We have realised that we need to have computers at our school to teach the children to operate and use them.
Children have learned about the importance and value of a computer.
They have learned to type.
They have had the opportunity to reach out and find information about different aspects of their community, including some information relating to their subjects, eg: History, Science and Geography.
It has strengthened the relationship between the children and their parents' employers.
It has forced the children to realise their potential, in improving their language skills.
Computer literacy should be included in our curriculum.
This school has not had any computer equipment in the past. In order to allow the children to get to grips with the technology, I used an ordinary PC with sound card and 28800 baud modem. Initially I 'recorded' Internet sessions at home, then took the computer out to the school, and played through the sessions again, reading the pages off the hard disk.
Essays were typed in using Microsoft Word.
Web pages were assembled using HTMLed version 1.2e. (I initially tried using the MS Word Internet Assistant, which aims to give you a partial wysiwig interface. But it is tortuous, incomplete, slow and buggy.....)
Photographs were scanned in at the office, and transferred using .PCX files to my PC. There I used LView Pro 1.C5 to crop, size and otherwise adjust pictures, as well as compress them into JPEG format.
The sound segment was recorded on an 8mm video camera, and played back directly into my Acer sound card using a simple wire connection. This was then recorded using the Acer Music Centre. (Hope this all works in time!)
As noted elsewhere, this work was NOT done by the pupils or teachers. This will form the next part of our project over the next year.
We mainly contacted people in our community through the telephone and letters. All of them were very impressed, especially because of the low status of our school. (poverty, umemployment, lack of adequate education, etc. )
They actually congratulated us for taking such a step, without undermining the potential, knowledge and environmental background of the community, including the pupils.
Already one computer will be donated to our school. We established a good relationship between our school and our mentor, Peter Hers, who could not come during the week and therefore had to travel from Johannesburg to our school, about 90kms, to assist us with the operation of the computer and even brought his own computers to teach the children all about it.
Mrs Joan von Maltitz also helped us a lot. As a community worker she responded right away to our call. She used her camera and video recorder to help us take photos and the sound recording. She sacrificed her time coming to school to see if we are coping. We also got some information from her through one of the pupils.
Mrs Beryl Laburn, our school manager, has been supportive and motivational. She made arrangements that we could meet Peter Hers. She offered transport where necessary and even came out to the school on Saturdays to check our progress. She was very excited and impressed when she actually saw pupils busy working with a computer.
The children worked together with their parents' employers, who are all white, and this has contributed to closing the race gap!
The pupils, after relating the story about the project to their parents, made them positive about education. They have since been very supportive and encouraged their children to work harder.
The teachers and pupils have learned a lot about Internet and this new experience has been passed on to other people around them.
We knew nothing about computers except seeing them in chain stores and other institutions. We have now learned that pictures, sound, etc., can be used with the computer.
Mrs Joan von Maltitz: Community worker. Information about Kromrivier, Rietfontein and Grootfontein. [The local districts / farms. ]
Dr Peter Baiden: Veterinary surgeon. Ostrich and protea farming.
Mr T Rakgetse: Information about the Department of Agriculture.
The Manager, Omaramba Hotel.
The parents who have been aloof and ignorant about their children's education are now more concerned and have shown interest. They have actually congratulated the teachers involved in this project and supported it whole-heartedly. This has never occurred before.