Tiny but perfect edutainer opens

SOLID FOUNDATION: Rhodes University vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela, left, and Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth, who opened edutainer preschool Picture: ADRIENNE CARSLISE
SOLID FOUNDATION: Rhodes University vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela, left, and Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth, who opened edutainer preschool Picture: ADRIENNE CARSLISE
Change the life of one child and you begin to change the world, says former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth.

Lord Williams on Wednesday opened the tiny but perfect Tyhilulwazi Preschool in Extension 7 in Grahamstown.

The pre-school consists of three large, brightly painted containers donated by funders and kitted out as classrooms and a service centre.

The so-called “edutainers” have offered more than 80 pre-schoolers the opportunity for learning, which Williams said cannot begin early enough in a child’s life.

“What is great about this project is the number of people and institutions that came together to make it happen.”

Williams was welcomed by a group of preschooler drum majorettes kitted out in red and white outfits.

Rhodes University’s self-funded Centre for Social Development – which focuses on Early Childhood Development (ECD) – was central to getting the little school up and running.

Rhodes University vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela has thrown his weight and fundraising efforts behind the project which is in line with his vision of improving basic education in Grahamstown with a long-term view of making Rhodes more accessible to Grahamstown’s disadvantaged youth.

CSD director Guilietta Harrison said Tyhilulwazi would not just benefit marginalised children but also become a research and practice hub in the ECD field.

The project took off when Rhodes alumnus Chris von Christierson agreed to fund the first edutainer in 2015.

The longer term project was jointly funded by the Watch Hill Foundation and the Zoe Carss Education Trust.

An organisation called Bright Kid Foundation supplied the hardware and installation of the preschool. Rhodes was also involved in ongoing training of teachers and parents.

Von Christiansen said the infrastructure was just one tiny ingredient in a massive effort involving Rhodes, the Makana Municipality, teachers, parents, pupils and community.

Rhodes University’s community engagement director Di Hornby agreed. She said the project started with school founder Lindeka Klaas and her community.

Klaas had started the school in her home with just 12 children. From there, with the help of parents, she had expanded to a self-built wattle and daub school with more than 30 children.

“You rolled your sleeves up and did it for yourselves. Your efforts were so great it caught the attention of others who stepped up to help.”

Lord Williams described it as a true sign of hope.

Mabizela said there was no better investment one could make than ensuring young people had access to life-changing quality education.

He said the little school had laid a solid foundation for education in the community.

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