Chairman’s Report 01-07-07 to 29-02-08

 This has been an eventful year with your committee having instituted a number of changes and improvements to the organisation. The reporting period ends on the last day of February to comply with regulations pertaining to Non Profit Organisations.

 The committee composition and structure has been significantly altered. Two members, Aidan Keyes and Brian Montgomery, resigned for personal reasons. We thank them for their past contributions and wish them well in their retirement. Four new committee members were welcomed to fill the positions of Secretary, Vice Chairperson, Treasurer and Finance Committee member, these being, Marilyn Barker, Angus Barker, Cecil Robertson and Doug Hall respectively.

 The following changes were made to the Education Fund structure.

  • The name, Community Led Education Access Programme was replaced by our new name.
  • Our Constitution was improved and modified to comply with the requirements for registration with the Directorate for Non Profit Organisations.
  • Application for registration as a NPO was submitted to Pretoria.
  • Bank accounts (Cheque and Money Market) were opened with ABSA Bank.
  • The process of registration with SA Revenue Services as a Public Benefit Organisation was initiated.

 We are continuing with one of our core activities which is to assist and encourage secondary school pupils to complete their five years of senior schooling and pass their matric exams well. The majority of the 32 bursary holders for 2007 performed acceptably during the year. All but two were invited on an excursion to the Eskom Palmiet Hydroelectric Scheme near Grabouw. Our good friend, Fritz Volk, and the writer accompanied the pupils plus two staff members on the excursion. It proved to be very popular with the pupils and adults alike. The magnitude of the installation was impressive as was the quality of the presentation made by the guide.

 All nine of our 2007 matric students passed while four received university entrance endorsements which were taken up. Four of the remaining five students obtained entrance to further training institutions while the fifth took time out due to pregnancy.

 The Selection Committee once again offered 32 bursaries to the Emil Weder learners who come from very poor families for 2008. The cost of each bursary had dropped from about R400 to R150 a year since the school was declared a non fee paying school in 2007.

 Our one scholarship holder, who is now in Grade 11 at the Overberg High School, continues to perform exceptionally well with top grades in all her subjects. In addition she was entered to compete nationally in a German Olympiad, sponsored by the German Government, and achieved a top ten position. This qualified her for a four week, all expenses paid, cultural visit to Germany during the June/July 2008 school vacation. This young scholar has exhibited star quality throughout her school career and we will need to give her maximum support for the duration of her academic training in the years ahead.

 Three of our 2007 matriculants who qualified for acceptance into University are now studying, respectively, Radiography, Nursing and Human Physiology. All three received significant bursaries and loans from their respective universities and in two cases from outside bodies as well. The Education Fund has given “top-up” funding to these three students and will consider offering additional, more substantive support for the 2009 academic year dependant upon performance during the current year. Given the above developments, it has become clear that the future direction of the Education Fund will be guided by two main themes viz. assistance with tertiary education at various levels, not only university and of course the ever necessary fund raising.

 Some Greyton residents come to the party! One of the above students had a summer vac. job thinning fruit on a local farm. By a remarkable set of coincidences, the farmer and his wife discovered that this young woman was about to embark on a University course, a long way from home. Their reaction was immediate, so impressed were they by this girl’s achievement. They arranged for a shopping expedition to kit her out with a full set of clothing, found her a good sized suitcase and activated an old cell phone so that she could communicate with family and supporters. Furthermore she was promised a financial allowance dependent on performance. No one could have had a better launch into their academic career and we hope that she will take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity offered to her. Such stories should be broadcast more widely to encourage more Greyton residents to follow this example.

 The achievement of our annual objectives becomes possible mainly through the generosity of our network of donors in South Africa and abroad. So many of them have taken a personal interest in the progress of our students and like to receive the Bulletin published by Hans Wegerdt in the UK. We offer our heartfelt thanks to all of you and again express our deep gratitude for your kindness and ongoing support. The friendliness and cooperative support of Emil Weder Headmaster, Mr Adonis, and his staff, especially, Magda Hans, is also greatly appreciated. We, like many others, have been greatly saddened by the untimely death of Magda. We shall miss her gracious and friendly support in our dealing with the Emil Weder School and have offered our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.

 Recently, the Emil Weder High School, celebrated its 70th anniversary with much fanfare, speeches by numerous dignitaries and prayers of thanksgiving. Promises were made by Department of Education head and by the Provincial Minister of Education to find ways to improve and uplift standards of education in rural schools, especially in maths and science subjects. Let us hope that they put words into actions as speedily as possible. Hans Wegerdt and I had an opportunity to meet the Minister at the ‘after’ party and discuss with him in particular the serious need for improvement of all aspects of preschool education. It is only at this level, when brain nervous systems are developing rapidly, that strong foundations can be laid upon which future skills may be built through the use of good teaching methods. If early development is impaired, as is the case in  most of our rural working class populations, full potential can never be achieved no matter how good the teaching methods. While the minister agreed with this view and said the work was beginning on improvement of preschool teacher training, he conceded that much had still to be done in this area. We left feeling that at least we had made our point.

 Finally I would like to thank our committee members for their dedicated and hard work given this past 8 months. It is a privilege and a pleasure for me to be associated with you in our common cause of trying to provide access to education for our underprivileged communities.

C J Beardwood