South Africa: Zenzeleni Waldorf School Khayelitsha
Therapy and Extra Lessons for the children of the Zenzeleni Waldorf School
Due to the long school closures and the complications caused by the subsequent alternate teaching over the past two years, large gaps have developed in the children's education. The teachers at Zenzeleni Waldorf School are working on trying to help the children fill in the gaps of the past two years because of all they have lost. They are behind in their academics which is to be expected, but the emotional and social effects of lockdowns have left their mark on the children because of the personal circumstance in which the children live. Many families have lost their jobs and their parents are more stressed than usual. Crime, violence, stress, job loss, trauma, drug and alcohol abuse and depression have increased, and our children are faced with many of these every day, especially because they live in poor communities.
To address the consequences, the school aims to offer a diverse therapy and tutoring programme.
"Extra Lessons" help to support those children who have learning difficulties or coordination problems that arose when the children had to stay at home, were not sufficiently stimulated, did not play sports and could not simply run around and play as children normally would. Without the basics of physical development, children find it difficult to learn. The school wishes for an Extra Lessons teacher who comes three times a week and helps the children.
With an additional offer of eurythmy therapy, the children are helped to regain their balance. This is a great therapy because it has benefits in emotional issues (like anger problems), helps those children who find it hard to learn things and for children who are not developing as they should for their age. It helps by stimulating health on all level and should be offered at least once a week.
Lastly, emergency pedagogy should be offered at least once a week. This pedagogical therapy has helped traumatised children from all around the world by supporting them and helping them process the traumatic events that they have experienced and helping them integrate them into their own lives. This is done, among other things, by activating the body‘s self-healing powers. The wish is to recruit a trained therapist for the school.
The costs for offering one of the three programmes every day of the week amount to about 80 euros per day and thus about 19,200 euros per school year.
"We appreciate every donation that helps us to reach our goal of helping our students!
About the Project:
The Zenzeleni Waldorf School Khayelitsha in Cape Town is currently attended by a total of 242 children who are in grades 1 to 7. Although the school community supported the children and the community as best they could during the pandemic period, the school unfortunately lost a number of children. The children's families have not been able to live in Khayelitsha because there are very few job opportunities left due to the impact of the pandemic. Many families have moved back to their original countryside. In addition, it has become even more difficult for the parents who have stayed to pay school fees as many of these families were already struggling to pay school fees before the pandemic.
The teachers at the Waldorf School are relieved and happy that the children can finally go back to school at the same time after almost two years. The strain of teaching masked and redoing the lesson for the two different classes – and all the complications that come with that method of teaching are finally behind them.
Although our school does get help from the government, almost half of the money needed to run the school comes from school fees. This affects everything that we do and even if we cut costs like reducing salaries and only buying the basics, it affects our school’s performance and staff morale. Also, what we have found is that our students need so much more support that they have before, not only for their schoolwork, but also emotionally and socially because of what they have experienced.
The teachers do their best to give the children everything they can, but they are overwhelmed. The learning gap is huge because the children could only come to school every other day during the lockdown. In addition, the children have never been able to learn online because they do not have computers or smartphones at home. Thankfully they have started art, craft and Eurythmy lessons again because we were not able to do them while we were in lockdown.
What is needed even more urgently than the school fees is the possibility to provide additional support through the therapies for the pupils who need help. The aim is to have a therapist come to the school every day to help the children overcome all their traumas so that they become happier and find their way around school more easily. Because many are very far behind in school and have many learning difficulties and traumas.