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Home: Freunde Waldorf

Building bridges at Imhoff Waldorf School

Half an hour’s drive from the Imhoff Waldorf School, you come to the end of the wind-swept Cape Peninsula. Standing by the Cape Point lighthouse, you look far down to where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet. You might say that Imhoff School itself is where the waves of three cultures meet. Since its foundation fourteen years ago, the aim of the Imhoff Waldorf School is the integration of children from diverse cultural and social backgrounds.

A 5-minute taxi drive brings Xhosa speaking South Africans, two Zimbabwean and a Malawian student to school. They all come from the cluster of shack houses called Masiphumelele, where illegal electricity cables hang across the streets, dogs sleep in the dust and fires destroy homes and take lives.

Even closer is the Ocean View settlement where Afrikaans speaking people of mixed race live. Last year they burnt tyres and rioted at the turn off to Imhoff School, to show the government their frustration with the lack of houses. Many live in a cramped wooden hut in someone else's back yard. Many have no work, and drugs and alcohol are best sellers.

Further from the school, dotted between the mountains and the bays, are villages and towns like Scarborough and Kommetjie, famous for their surfing waves. Mostly “white” English and Afrikaans speakers live in these areas. Therefore the school plays a key role in building an integrated community, building cultural and social bridges.

A special sponsorship program of the school supports socially disadvantaged children through homework help and tutoring, as well as practical needs such as food, transportation, camps and sports programs. This does not only encourage the individual student and his family, but also the school and the school community.

Yet there is so much more to do to make sure that the children coming form the townships get the best from Waldorf education. Bilingual adult assistants in the classes would help non-English speakers continue learning in their own language (vital for their sense of security and self-worth) while helping them to better understand English. Furthermore, many children of the township are nourished extremely one-sided, some are ill very often. But with the will to participate, resulting from involved parents, teachers and student’s new funding opportunities, renovation work, but also annual school festivals sprout that also attract people from the surrounding communities.