Tennis or netball can be played on this multi-functional court_
Tennis or netball can be played on this multi-functional court_
CommunityIssue 3 2021

Learning To Look Forward

Head of Ntsha-Peu Primary School, Mary Phadi is preparing the next generation of Soshanguve’s children for a bright future despite the hardships they face at present. BMW Group South Africa is making sure she succeeds. 

A desk for every learner from Grade 1 to Grade 7
A desk for every learner from Grade 1 to Grade 7

With their parents seeking work away from home, many children growing up in Soshanguve – just north of Pretoria – are being raised by retired grandparents surviving on a pension. When there are no grandparents to step in, the responsibility falls on the eldest child to raise their younger siblings. Their present doesn’t give them much to be optimistic about, but at a progressive primary school called Ntsha-Peu, Head Mary Phadi has a plan. Together with her staff of teachers, she’s working hard to prepare and enable learners for a life that’s not dependent on anyone else. When so much in their young lives is out of their control, a big focus of the school is teaching learners the skills with which to become independent adults who can actively change their circumstances. “They must be able to be responsible for their own lives,” Mrs Phadi says. “We teach them to be active participants in their own futures. What we teach them is for life, not just for while they are in school.” 

Every day Mrs Phadi reminds her teachers that within the school environment, they are parental figures for the children – many of whom have no parents at home – so everything they do is done with love. “They must communicate with love and they must instil trust in the learners to create a child who has responsibility, who can live with honesty and respect for other people,” she says. 

What we teach them is for life, not just for while they are in school.

– Head of Ntsha-Peu Primary, Mary Phadi 

The sports field at Ntsha-Peu Primary School that's open to the community_
The sports field at Ntsha-Peu Primary School that's open to the community_
The library is a quite place for reading_
The library is a quite place for reading_

As the learners are at primary level and still young, the teachers at Ntsha-Peu work to discover what excites them and where their talents lie. “Once we identify their interests and capabilities, we can guide them on how they can move forward,” Mrs Phadi says. When they reach Grade 7 they first learn about different fields of work that they could possibly imagine for themselves in the future. But it’s only in high school that they start to specialise. 

To date, 144 schools have benefited from support from BMW Group South Africa. Ntsha-Peu is of special interest to BMW SA as so many of the BMW Plant Rosslyn associates live in the area. “They want to improve the society and the community they are working in,” Mrs Phadi says. Once the learners matriculate, BMW offers internships and skills-training at the factory, but the investment in their futures starts much younger. 

BMW SA wants to improve the society and the community they are working in.

– Mary Phadi 

Since 2017, Ntsha-Peu has received a R4 million investment and world-class upgrades which include a sports field where there was none before, multi-functional tennis and netball courts, refurbished classrooms and furniture, security, and a library with all new books and a trained librarian. BMW SA has also funded two computer labs which, in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education, have been supplied with always-on internet. IT is a regular part of the curriculum and teachers are currently in training to run a robotics and coding program at the school. 

This tangible support from BMW SA is aiding Mrs Phadi’s vision for the next generation from Soshanguve. “With the environment we are in, I try by all means to change their thinking,” she says. “They mustn’t look at where they are, they must look to where they are going in the future. That’s my plan.” 

They mustn’t look at where they are, they must look to where they are going in the future.

‒ Mary Phadi 

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