Nov 25, 2019

Isipethu Sothukela Choirs Excel and end 2019 on a HIGH

Headmaster Training Workshop 10 Oct 2019
Headmaster Training Workshop 10 Oct 2019

Thanks to your generous contributions in 2019, the Isiphethu Sothukela ("Spring waters of the Tugela") Project has established itself as a major influence in the fruitful second phase partnership with Drakensberg Boys Choir School and KZN Department of Education, supporting rural child education in the greater Central Drakensberg area. This year has seen the dedication of Judith Hawthorn and Charlotte Bower bear positive fruit, with inspiration and support given by Bernard Kruger and his dedicated, talented music team. Our analysis of English academic results between 2017 and 2018 from Sifisosethu, one of the participating schools, indicated that literacy rates had improved by up to 40% in some choristers, but by 15% on average for all choristers, when compared to the non-singing counterparts. This was a most refreshing and unexpected finding which has motivated our work throughout 2019 .

Judith Hawthorn, through her unique character and wonderful musical talent, has led the project to new heights while consolidating a secure foundation. She has been directly responsible for ensuring the sustainability and expansion of the choral music program in the schools.  She has coached and mentored the relevant staff members in the knowledge and skills of developing and directing a choir, so that they conducted their own choirs in this years Siyacula Festival Concert.  Parallel to Judith's work, Charlotte Bower has been establishing Music Skills at a lower level in Grade 3. See Judiths Term 4 Report attached. 

For the second year running, the "lsiphethu Sothukela" Project was represented at the KZN "Festival in the Hills" Choral Festival, this time by Nkosi Mjwayeli, one of the five project school participants. They experienced wonderful exposure to the best school choirs in KZN, acquitting themselves admirably. The children thoroughly enjoyed interaction with other choristers and a special visit to the sea during a day at the beach. Through a close partnership with KZN D0E, represented by Mr. Nathi Ndlovu, the Deputy Regional Director, all the transport and boarding arrangements were flawless. This was indeed a public-private-partnership working at its optimum.

 An important milestone was reached when the Celimfundo Primary School in Khetani, Winterton, entered their first ABRSM Choir examination [The Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music) and passed with merit. This was indeed a noteworthy achievement, and each chorister received a certificate of Award.  Their participation in the Isiphethu Sothukela programme has been recognized by Old Mutual, with a formal certificate underlining this valuable life project in the upliftment of children. Please enjoy the photo of Mr Chris Ndlovu and MS Nonhlanhla Majola receiving the award.  Mrs Bridget Harrison of ABRSM has played an important role in the promotion of these choirs and further collaboration is joyfully anticipated.

 In addition to the Music Department the Isiphethu Sothukela Schools are part of a Leadership programme being led by Andrew Stead, former Head of DBCS, under his Foundation for School Leadership Development and Management. Three very successful full day seminars on critical aspects of school leadership have been held for Heads and School Management. These were well and enthusiastically attended, as evidenced by the supporting attendance register and photographs. 

 A new component to the Focus Groups this year has been a support group for Early Childhood Development(ECD). This has been very successfully run by Mrs Libby lrons, Megan King and MrsDoubell. It is hoped to add a music repertoire in the New Year.  Winterton Primary School are partners in this important initiative.

The highlight this year was the third Siyacula Music Festival Concert, held in the Ken Mackenzie auditorium on 24 October, with all five of the target schools and the DBCS choir fully represented, as demonstrated in the photo's attached. The event was a full day occasion with choir rehearsals and workshops in the morning, and the formal choir concert in the afternoon. The 250 children who participated enjoyed two meals provided by the Iocal valley residents with the support of local suppliers.  All ABRSM certificates were handed out. In thanking Greg Brooks, the DBCS staff, especially Bernard Kruger and Fiona Kinghorn, with the very special support of Mrs Mokoena, the Regional Director of KZN D0E, it is hoped that choirs will continue to spread and multiply over the foothills and valleys of the Drakensberg.

Fundraising continues.....

Of course the project would not be the success it is without the financial contribution of many kind individuals and benefactors. Thanks to all global Giving subscribers who have kept us going this year!! So much more is needed. The schools are now each desperate for a portable keyboard and a trunk of age-appropriate children’s books. We have been canvassing for bigger individual donors and are excited about the upcoming Giving Tuesday campaign. 

CVT Farm School Buildings Project 2020

The redundant farm school buildings adjacent to DBCS have been the subject of many discussions in the Champagne Valley this year…..mostly around providing a sustainable income to the Isiphethu Sothukela Project. Two meetings have been held with the Highlands Community to determine what educational activities can be promoted on the site. Greg Bellars, well-known PMB architect, kindly produced the attached architectural concept drawings at risk,  to start the conversations. It is felt that an Early Childhood Development centre may be the best option for the site. Your inputs please?? 

Celimfundo  receives their ABRSM Certificates
Celimfundo receives their ABRSM Certificates
Mr Chris Ndlovhu & Mrs Nonhlanla Majola
Mr Chris Ndlovhu & Mrs Nonhlanla Majola
Proud Recipient of ABRSM Certificate
Proud Recipient of ABRSM Certificate
Mass Choir Performance at the Siyacula Festival
Mass Choir Performance at the Siyacula Festival
Music Workshop 24 October 2019
Music Workshop 24 October 2019

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Aug 26, 2019

Isiphethu Sothukela Faces The Challenges ....

Concentrating on a new song at Nkosi Mjwayeli
Concentrating on a new song at Nkosi Mjwayeli

Thanks to the faithful few that continue to support us in a tough global economy!! With close to 30% unemployment and many struggling to make ends meet in South Africa, we have fallen behind on our 2019 fundraising targets. We have just managed to keep paying teachers to date, but  have had to create 3 fundraising events to see us out to the end of the year. We appeal especially to UK and USA residents who resonate with this project's mission to PLEASE contemplate a recurring donation, no matter how small. With our weakend Rand, the fabulous exchange rate of these contributions helps us meet monthly operational needs. This allows those in leadership to spend valuable time on analysis, thought leadership, strategic approach, funding proposals and active project engagement rather than organising piecemeal events to fill the "gaps".  

The Trust Deed of the Champagne Valley Education Trust has now been officially updated and certified, and the allocation of its property assets finally correctly aligned with the Trust, as per the attached documents. A HUGE thank-you to conveyancing attorney Godfrey Norman  for all his pro-bono work (on top of his busy legal practice and Rotarian activities). Completing this thankless task took all of three years. 

On June 26th, we held our first supporting fundraising event. South Africa's Vondeling Wines generously sponsored the drinks at a stunning London Golf Club. Matthew Willman, official photograher to the Nelson Mandela Foundation for 10 years, reminded us with outstanding reason to push on with our cause in his inspiring address "The Mandela I Knew" . We raised R6000 after expenses were covered.  Thank you so very much to Debbie Cunningham and Dave Jones for a fabulous venue at rock-bottom price! I have nominated them for SA Hero of the Month to Cape Talk Radio!!

Project leader Judith Hawthorne continues her sterling work in field, busily preparing the Celimfundo Choir for their ABRSM exam and the Inkosi Mjwayeli Choir for their perfomance at Festival in the Hills. She is visiting the schools every fortnight, slowly handing over the choirs in each school to their own teachers to conduct. This has been more difficult than planned. Charlotte Bower helps enormously by running the Grade 3 choirs. We are so excited that all schools have committed to performing on October the 24th in the annual, uplifting Siyacula Concert at the Drakensberg Boys Choir School. This year we are charging R60 per ticket as a fundraiser and will be inviting the broader DBCS community to attend.

The DBCS has been invited at short notice by Disney to perform in London (all costs covered), and the Isiphethu Sothukela Legacy Project has secured a fundraising concert in SA House, Trafalgar Square on October 16th for this project. With Michaelmas holidays brough forward to accommodate this tour, the DBCS conductor Bernard Kruger had to cancel the Music Teacher workshop this quarter. Project Leader Bill Carter has nobly recovered from knee surgery (and many other setbacks), to engage again with the Departmental Authorities and  to remind school staff re responsibilities and tasks with timelines. This is to ensure that the project goals are achieved. The next Headmaster Leadership date has been set as 9 October 2018. 

Two other events have been planned in the Champagne Valley, to assist with funding shortfalls. Please participate or pass on the invitation .....

1. A Community Fundraising Dinner with Matthew Willman repeating his London address "The Mandela I Knew"  on Fri, Oct 25th and

2. A Collaborative Golf Day/Dinner fundraiser with Kwethu Children's Village at Goodersons Monks Cowl Resort on Sat Oct 26th.   

The DBCS Board is also currently updating the school's  5-year strategic pillars, in the face of decreased chorister enrollment with economic challenges facing many middle-class homes. We have been advised that the future of the "Isphethu Sothukela" Legacy Project is also being contemplated!!  I am therefore delighted we can report on the many strengths of this project, and the positive approach adopted to its challenges.  Thank you one and all again for your deeply appreciated support.

A volunteer steps forward to explain the song....
A volunteer steps forward to explain the song....
Teaching outdoors has its challenges....
Teaching outdoors has its challenges....
Concentrating on the words in a wind can be tricky
Concentrating on the words in a wind can be tricky
It's even more tricky if the sheetmusic blows away
It's even more tricky if the sheetmusic blows away
Happily the weekend is here!!
Happily the weekend is here!!

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May 29, 2019

Taking Baby Steps Towards Sustainability

Mrs Charlotte Bouwer now trains the Grade 3 Choirs
Mrs Charlotte Bouwer now trains the Grade 3 Choirs

HEARTFELT APPRECIATION AGAIN TO ALL OUR DONORS!! Isiphethu Sothukela DBCS Legacy Project EXCO met on Wed 10 am 8/5/2019 at Drakensberg Boys Choir School. Bridget Johnsen visited 3 of the supported schools with choir teacher  Judith Hawthorn on Fri 10 May 2019. Greg Brooks, Dave Cato, Bernard Kruger, Bill Carter and Bridget Johnsen clarified direction, responsibilities and commitment to DBCS Legacy Project. The team agreed and resolved: 

  1. The Isiphethu Sothukela Project is essential in today’s political climate while located in a national area of such poverty
  2. Months and years of work and money has already been spent to get this project well-off the ground, and most operations are running well.
  3. The DBCS 5-year Board strategy in 2013 was to rebrand as an aspirational private school with a strong outreach program. Anton Redelinghuys conceived the Legacy Project to fulfil the latter requirement, and Andrew Stead implemented it with aplomb. This strategy has also enabled DBCS  to become self-sustaining if 105+ boys are enrolled.
  4. The partnership between Champagne Valley Trust and DBCS in the Legacy project enables DBCS funding applications to tick ALL the boxes for Foundation and Corporate CSR requirements to fulfil Sustainability Development Goals, though the broader mandate of CVT in the community… e.g. working with orphans, girls, water and sanitation, food security,  proposed Afrika Tikkun Cradle-to-Career rural model, etc
  5. The Legacy project also opens up significant possibilities for more-likely-to find-funding applications of DBCS projects. Perfect example is funding needed for refurbishment of school buildings for science lab. Greg and Dave supported concept of expanded use and extension of science lab to impoverished schools.
  6. Commitment required by the DBCS has to date cost very little other than one day (with some prep) quarterly for teachers and music staff.
  7. In one impoverished school choir(Celimfundo), the choir has been so successful that principal Mr Chris Ndlovu  has entered (using the school's own funds) the ABRSM Choirs (entry Level) category in 2019. Another (Inkosi Mjwayeli) has been invited to sing at Festival in the Hills (Kloof) with an overnight stay and trip to the beach following, in September 2019.
  8. Literacy has statistically been improved up to 15% by learner participation in choirs, but proper research must still remove any potential inherent bias (low literacy base, selected type as chorister, etc.) Anecdotal evidence puts improvement as high as 40% in one school.
  9. All principals report the presence of a choir has had massive positive spin-off in many aspects of the school, notably discipline and element of joy.
  10. CVT cashflow for continued Legacy Project operations are extremely tight. Although initially funded by DBCS, Champagne Valley Trust has been supporting choir teacher salaries and principal workshops for the partner schools since last year. 
  11. Although certain aspects of the project have been modified, some aspects of the project need addressing:

A. Principal Workshops were not as successful in 2018 as previously.

  • Greg Brooks was new to the project and had not done this type of work before.
  • Greg consulted with Andrew Stead, and Andrew has now run the first of 3 proposed workshops for principals in 2019.  Principals’ feedback was that they wanted more interaction with DBCS, and especially with Greg/Dave between workshops. Also that ideally Greg should participate in the workshops for context. Contact can be relatively informal, but should be regular.
  • Andrew had been introduced by Bill to convener of Partners for Possibility Programme (JHB). Andrew has agreed to work with PFP for the Legacy Project, also in a collaborative programme of workshops/interventions facilitated by Karen McKenzie/Paul Fleischack in the Michaelhouse Community Partnership(MCP).
  • Andrew is writing an extra-curricular support document for the Principal Leadership programme for the MCP. This document will provide ABC guidelines to support the principals of impoverished schools between workshops This will be shared with Greg, especially since…… 
  • Loskop /Winterton are earmarked for next PFP project rollout by CVT/MCP. 

B. Teacher workshops have become irrelevant

  • Teachers are proficient already and comfortable with curriculum content
  • Huge demand is made on teachers’ time for departmental paperwork requirements
  • CPD points issue remains unresolved at Dept. Level (Bill to consult Mrs Mokoena …. Mrs Dube has not fulfilled undertakings)
  • Real problem is that classes are too large (75+)
  • We resolved that Interns to support teachers will be of much greater value than workshop. DBCS would also like Interns as cheap additional staff for a variety of needs. Interns can be accommodated in CVT buildings and dispatched to support English/Maths/Science/Choir teachers of impoverished schools as required, as part of their DBCS duties and employment contract.
  • CVT Trust Deed and Trustees now sorted …conveyancing attorney Godfrey Norman in process of completing registration of assets/CVT buildings
  • Plan is to convert some of these buildings into accommodation for 6-7 interns4 lower classrooms will be converted into bunk accommodation for 2X16=32 girls, with ablution, and 2X16 =32 boys, for visiting schools, choirs, camps, workshops, etc. as ongoing income for CVT . “Core” building to remain as kitchen/dining/general conference room. Ablutions to be upgraded. Several trees to be removed and entire property to be cleaned up. 
  • Impoverished School groups can come up to DBCS with their teachers to do extended workshops (3-4 days) with DBCS boys/teachers and use science lab, while using this accommodation

C. Choir training is to be adapted.

  • Bernard Kruger, Director of Music at DBCS, has not been willing to give workshops to different teachers arriving for each workshop, so no workshops have been held this year.
  • Problem is that Music is only one small part of Life Orientation in prep schools. This subject is usually allocated to curricular teachers awaiting full appointment during their probation period, but then they move into classrooms as soon as approved for the advertised post. This results in a high turnover of disinterested teachers giving the children music/singing lessons.
  • After Judith Hawthorn’s 2-year presence in each school, with all the benefits brought by the choirs (discipline and literacy especially), Bridget suggested the principal must see sufficient value to allocate one or 2 specific persons to the choir.
  • Judith has identified 2 teachers of sufficient calibre in each of the 4 partner schools and advised the way forward in a letter to each teacher and principal. Judith is being supported by 2 non-chorally trained Winterton-based music teachers (Lynn Sclanders and Charlotte Bower) who are assisting partner school choir teachers for nominal pay.
  • Judith would now like to supervise only by next year, and see the project to start taking on additional schools…. Emadolobeni has been dropped this year due to her time constraints, but she also has relocated to PMB increasing her travel costs and time commitment…. all the more reason to find a sustainable solution.
  • Bernard embraced the idea of a quarterly workshop to train both the new supporting teachers and the partner school teachers … even with their choirs, if DBCS away or the CVT accommodation can be utilized.

 

Remembering the song from last week
Remembering the song from last week
Wonderful Celimfundo teacher Ms Nonhlanhla Majola
Wonderful Celimfundo teacher Ms Nonhlanhla Majola
Celimfundo Principal Mr Chris Ndlovu
Celimfundo Principal Mr Chris Ndlovu

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