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Ikhwezi which means ‘Morning Star’ is a pre-school in Xolanaledi Township in Grabouw in the Western Cape. The school is situated on a RDP (Reconstruction and Development Program of the Democratic Government) plot of 251 square metres on erf 2842, Molefe Street , Xolanaledi, Grabouw. The site, with a small house on it, was owned by Emma Sikaka. Emma wanted to turn the house into a creche but didn’t have the means to do so. She approached her parish priest, Father Hickley, who bought the property and established a container classroom alongside the house. Thus was Ikhwezi Educare born in March 2006, with Emma as the founding teacher. With the help of three of the existing trustees, Father Hickley established the Ikhwezi Educare Trust on 17 May 2009. The premises were donated to the Trust. Later that year, Ikhwezi started providing meals because it became apparent that many of the children were malnourished. They were frequently sick and several were HIV positive. The difference in the children’s energy levels and concentration span was palpable.
A pictures at the feeding scheme organised by the Teachers and Trustees during the July holidays of 2018 to feed the Community when the picking season was over.
The children receive meals during the school term at Ikhwezi, and to continue with this nutrition which may not be available in the holidays, the teachers set up a meal kitchen and fed not only our children but those of the wider Community and adults as well. Local businesses assisted the Trust by supporting the project with donations of cash and food.
The school staff gave up their winter holidays to cook and serve over 600 meals a day on average. 9055 meals were served over a 15 week-day period in 2018. A second Soup Kitchen was held in July 2019 and almost 10000 meals were served.
Enrolment / Marketing Plan
The goal is to keep school fees as low as possible to facilitate entrance to the school of as many children as we can accommodate.
There is huge demand for places at Ikhwezi. Parents are asked to state their income and priority is given to those most in need.
The initial fee at the inception of the school in 2006 was R50.00 per child per month or R600.00 per child per year. However even this nominal fee sometimes proved too costly for some parents and their children were withdrawn. The policy had been that the teachers would gather the fees each month as part of their salaries and that the School would make up the difference between their wages and the fees collected. From 2020, the school fee policy has been changed to a once off R400.00 enrolment or placement fee at the beginning of the year, i.e. R33.33 a month school fee for each child, to make this crucial intervention in the children’s lives attainable.
This new fee policy is now entrenched and the school is full, with over 150 children. Additionally the school offer includes two balanced meals each day to provide for the nutritional needs of the children. This differentiates the Grade R Learners at Ikhwezi from other Grade R classes in the area such as that offered at the local Government School where a meal is not on offer. From 2023 the fee has been increased to R450.
Management / Operating Plan
The School is managed by the Ikhwezi Educare Trust which is run by eight Trustees, some of whom have been on the Board since inception. No fees or expenses are paid.
Lessons follow the syllabus set by the Western Cape Education Department, who conduct regular inspections.
The children are taught by five teachers, one for each class. Ikhwezi also employs a caretaker, an administrator, a cleaner and two cooks, so the school provides employment for 10 people. We rely on donations for the bulk of our budget. The Western Cape Education Department pays the salaries of three teachers. Funds to cover the salaries of the other 7 staff; as well as food for the children; maintenance and infrastructure costs are all funded by our generous donors.
How we have grown
Ikhwezi now occupies three erven: 2842, a Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP) plot of 251 square metres, adjacent erf 2843 and parallel erf 2832 – between erven 2842 and 2843 and the tar road.
This is a far cry from its origins in 2006, when the school consisted of the RDP house converted into ablution facilities and a kitchen as well as a forty-foot container subdivided into two classrooms.
Demand has increased exponentially, as the surrounding population has exploded in size. In 2006, there were just neat rows of RDP houses. The hill above Ikhwezi was bare. From 2015, there has been a massive influx of people, mostly from the Eastern Cape. Mostly, they are single mothers, who can get seasonal fruit-picking jobs on surrounding farms. This, plus the R350 grant they get for each child, is often their only income and poverty is rife. They stay because facilities such as education and healthcare are better. Informal settlements, mostly corrugated iron shacks, cover the hillsides.
The consolidation of the School onto three erven is a very recent development, occurring in the closing quarter of 2021 as all classrooms were moved off land, namely erf 2844, which belonged to a neighbouring evangelical church.
At the turn of the last decade, two wooden wendy houses were erected on the former Community Land erf 2843, to establish three classrooms with three teachers and a cook. The larger wooden wendy house has remained and is a Grade R Classroom while the other has been moved and is now a storeroom.
By 2015, the staff complement had increased from three teachers and a cook to four teachers and a cook by 2015 and the number of children receiving tuition and nutrition was over 90, with four classrooms.
By 2017 the number of children had risen to 110 with 60 in Grade R and our fifth classroom was completed in that year with 4 additional toilets. 2022 was marked by the need to find a solution to the problem of the encroachment onto church land after the challenge of guiding the children’s teaching through the uncertain COVID environment. There was no expansion of the school as we navigated our way through 2020 and 2021 COVID years and in 2022 we secured erf 2832 in the land acquisition process we had initiated.
We were budgeting for a smallish surplus in 2022. This was achieved as the land tenure program was completed. This included the costs of securing erf 2832 and the associated subdivision and rezoning, consolidation, as well as moving the classrooms to the newly acquired land. A four percent increase in salaries was built into the Budget and the fee paid by the parents has been increased to R450 which is a token amount when compared to the actual cost per child of R10,432 for the year.