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Photographers Without Borders document Gauteng PfP schools


Author: admin posted in PfP Blog on 30 November -1, 00:00

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The PfP Marketing and Communications Team hosted Seth Charter and his partner Arletta Charter, two visionary members of the Toronto-based volunteer organisation, Photographers Without Borders (PWB), in October. Their mission in South Africa: To ignite awareness around the plight of under-resourced PfP schools, and to ultimately effect change in an ethical way through capturing compelling imagery to communicate messages, share perspectives, foster cross-cultural understanding, and inspire others.

Both photographers described their experience in South Africa as ‘life-altering’ and ‘rewarding’, expressing a particular appreciation for the typical South African hospitality and warmth shown by all those they encountered.

PWB’s primary focus is on empowering grassroots nonprofit organisations all over the world, who are contributing to the 17 UN Sustainable Development goals that encompass everything from healthcare, women's empowerment, human rights, sustainability and innovation.

PWB shares these stories with the world through the PWB series,the PWB Magazine, exhibits, publications, and more. The work of these storytellers has been featured in various other publications including the Huffington PostHuffington Post TravelCBCRangefinderNational Geographic, The EconomistSLR Lounge, the UN-HABITAT 2013 HandbookGuttenberg PressAlternavoxPhoto LifeHart House Camera Club and many others. 

School profile: Brixton Primary School

Established in 2015, the primary school located in Brixton, Johannesburg, still grapples with the common issues experienced by a school in its infancy. The current head, Mr TJ Dolo, took over the reins in 2016.

The school, which has 823 enrolled learners ranging from Grade R to Grade Seven, accommodates learners from the major feeding zones of Fietas, Mayfair, Crosby, the inner city, Hillbrow and even Soweto. Learners commute to and from the school using privately owned ‘taxis’, which Dolo explained are reliable because of the good rapport the school has with these transport operators.

The no-fee paying, Quintile 4 categorisation of the school has proved problematic in terms of the funds received by the school.

‘’Brixton Primary is a fairly new school. It is also school where the learner’s parents are largely unemployed. We don’t have the ‘luxury’ of sport facilities and state-of-the-art science labs and libraries. We have to rely on the good Samaritans of this world to fund these necessary amenities.’’

Rather than bemoan his school’s lot, Dolo exhibits a can-do attitude, which he credits the PfP programme and his business leader partner, Marina Bidoli of Brunswick South Africa, for encouraging.

‘’The PfP programme has given me the confidence to lead – to run a public school like an enterprise. At the end of the day, I feel fulfilled when I see a child enter the school, then leave knowing they have acquired the knowledge they need to contribute to the economic growth of this country.’’

He strongly believes that if business has been able to succeed to the extent it has, then education has no excuse to follow suite. He has chosen a dissertation topic as part of the post-graduate qualification he is currently reading for that reflects this.

‘’My topic relates to the exploration of business methods in education. I am incorporating the Flawless Consulting principles of contracting and negotiating into my research. ‘’

After embarking on the programme in October 2017, Dolo describes school life after the formalised 12-month training period. He is quick to say that he and his business leader partner are very keen to extend the partnership, as there is still a plethora of projects he wishes to introduce at the school.

‘’The school has seen the implementation of a food gardening initiative. Learners now have access to psychological support, thanks to a partnership formed with psychology students from the University of Johannesburg. We also have social workers on board to tackle any existing social issues.

The University of Witwatersrand has been extremely generous in allowing our learners to make use of their sport facilities.’’

Most notably, and arguably most vital, Dolo has stepped up the way the school communicates internally, as well as externally with important school stakeholders.

‘’Now, the staff conduct meetings using Time to Think principles. With regards to our parents, we have made use of a number of methods to ensure effective communication. We have a weekly newsletter that is distributed, and we use short text messaging services to relay information quickly.

All these developments are as a result with my relationship with Marina.’’

Although fully cognisant of the school’s current limitations, such as a less-than-ideal teacher-child ratio of 1:40, Brixton Primary’s dynamic and dedicated leader maintains a positive outlook on the future of the school.

‘’My hope is that this school remains the centre of this community – I want the community to tale full ownership of the school. Practically, we would like to establish a fully-fledged computer lab and sports fields. These projects are all included in the School Improvement Plan.

Above all, we want to produce good academic results.’’