"It takes a village to raise a child"
Compelled by the firm belief that Christians are called by God to serve society, the Board of Education is looking to encourage and energize local parishes to engage and support the educational mission of local schools where it is most appropriate and to inspire the wider community to do the same.
With an estimated 56 000 local churches across all denominations in South Africa alone and 26 000 public schools, the ratio of two to one is a real opportunity for the Church to have significant impact in education. Assuming a similar ratio across the Province, an exciting prospect for widespread sustainable action across townships, villages, suburbs and informal settlements exists, thus making parish members strategic partners in galvanizing communities into sustainable action that will ultimately see the enhancement of education.
However well the Church may establish schools, the majority of children across the Province will receive their education through the public system. Parish involvement therefore, affords the lay congregation to play a central role not only in the upliftment of education in these schools, but to influence the whole education system.With an estimated 56 000 local churches across all denominations in South Africa alone and 26 000 public schools, the ratio of two to one is a real opportunity for the Church to have significant impact in education. Assuming a similar ratio across the Province, an exciting prospect for widespread sustainable action across townships, villages, suburbs and informal settlements exists, thus making parish members strategic partners in galvanizing communities into sustainable action that will ultimately see the enhancement of education.
Furthermore, this ensures sustainability in projects pursued, as whatever is accomplished will be owned by the citizens of the community. One particular aspect parishes can take part in is the development of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres. Already, a number of these operate on church premises while others are run by parishioners in their homes or yards. The Board of Education will provide the necessary support to these in order for them to meet set government criteria.
Parish engagement could take a variety of forms:
- The church opens its facilities and for example, supervises a place for children to do their homework.
- Many churches run crèche’s and the educators in these ECD (Early Childhood Development) centres need training to reach the required regulatory standards. Already, a number of these operate on church premises while others are run by parishioners in their homes or yards. (See examples below.) The Board of Education will provide the necessary support to these in order for them to meet set government criteria.
- The church collects winter shoes for the children of a local primary school;
- The church provides breakfast supplies to schools for children who have left home hungry;
- The church offers professional services to poor schools who do not easily have access to these skills;
- It could mean running a service of workshop for teachers at the beginning of the year or it could mean baking some cakes for morning tea in the staffroom;
- In Kwa Zulu Natal Bishop Rubin called a one day conference for Anglican educators that was attended by about 400 participants. It was perceived as extremely valuable, with a simple but profound commitment made by all to do their jobs well, as well as serve as witnesses for Christ.
Facilitation of Parish Engagement
- Government Interaction – In Gauteng, the former MEC for Education launched a partnership between the Department and the Faith-Based Organisations (FBO’s) under the name of ‘Faith for Quality Education’. This is moving forward rapidly after the 2014 elections, providing for orderly access for representatives of FBOs into schools. It has set up a pastoral flying squad for crisis situations (such as outbreaks of ‘Harmful Religious Practices’ in schools), and it has given permission for local religious communities to enter into partnership with a school for their mutual benefit. This can mean anything from baking a cake or fixing broken windows, through to prayers and motivational speeches at school, to counselling, homework support or aftercare at the church premises. Anglican parishes are among the local communities taking this opportunity to become involved.
- ABE continued involvement – Bishop Peter Lee, Chairman of ABESA continues to chair an inter faith meeting with the Gauteng Dept. of Education to implement the 2013 memorandum of understanding regarding how Faith Based Organisations can engage with schools
Some examples of existing projects include:
The Social Project
An initiative of “Growing the Church” and “Anglicans Ablaze”, driven by Michael Darby and Rev Trevor Pearce focuses on supervised afternoon homework and study classes using Anglican Church facilities.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) In Nhampassa – Mozambique
People in Nhampassa – a rural village 170km north of Chimoio are realizing one more reason to encourage everyone to rally around early childhood education. Although not educated, the community rallied together to open a preschool. A skills training workshop has been held for volunteers chosen as teachers. In order to assist them and support the preschool, a garden has been planted. Gardening tools, vegetable seeds, insecticides and an irrigation pump were purchased. José Nhamitambo, the community leader says, “thank you for the help in supporting the Anglican Church to lift up the communities that are willing to get out of the abyss.” He goes on to say that he was witness to this great work at the Chiro preschool and wants it repeated here. “I know that you are people of God, and with God’s help we can save the world.”
Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Orange Farm
The church set out to support Ntombi Mbatha with her ECD centre in a parish building. She brought her friends along and within a year, her Anglican ECD Forum had 24 members and were locating their own speakers on safety, occupational therapy, practitioner upliftment and practical childcare skills. The ABE is engaging with government about how we can shift policy more from enforcement towards upliftment of these women in line with the Millennium Development Goals.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) In Sharpville
A township in the South of Johannesburg South Africa, a team from the local parish contacted each of the 10 primary schools in the township and asked for the names of 10 needy learners. They then invited these 100 children to the aftercare centre in the church Sunday school rooms. Now from Monday to Thursday from ‘home time’ until 16:00, these children gather at St Cyprian’s for a meal, a safe place to play, and help with their reading and homework.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Tiago – Mozambique
Support given through the Anglican Church to the Educational Project in the rural Ecclesiastic District of Púnguè providing teacher training and providing needy children in rural areas with Early Childhood Education, scholarships for orphans to attend school, and nutrition for children with little access to education or food.
Is a movement in ECD supported by St Mary’s School, Waverley, which has hosted conferences of educators, many of whom came from township ECD centres. Bishop Peter Lee, Chairman of ABESA, is chairman of the Reggio Emilia Board and its members play a significant supportive role to grow and develop ECD educators
Please contact Rev Roger Cameron, CEO of ABESA on firstname.lastname@example.org or Cell 0824685252 for more information on any of the projects listed below or if you would like him to visit you to discuss opportunities in your parish.
Get in Touch
Anglican Board of Education for Southern Africa (ABESA) St Mary’s School, Smogs Cottage 55 Athol Street, Waverley, Johannesburg 2090
082 468 5252