- We departed Colesberg and drove and drove. And then we drove some more. As we started to wonder if were on the right road at all, a small cluster of buildings emerged on the Karoo horizon. Little did we know what incredibly big things were happening in that small cluster…
In 1989 the wives of three farmers in this rural area decided to start what was to become the Hantam Education Centre – a small early learning facility for the children of farm labourers in the area. Almost 25 years later, what had initially started out as a relatively simple idea is now a dynamic, award-winning initiative driven by the passion and desire of local people who want to ensure that their children are provided with opportunities. In fact, the local community members were not only instrumental in encouraging Hantam’s initial growth beyond a facility exclusively for early learning, but have been ongoing critical and engaged partners, even deciding on the language of instruction at the Centre, for example.
Hantam Community Education Trust manages programmes for about 200 learners in early childhood development (involving families as well as their children), health (including an on-site pharmacy), youth development, bursaries for continuing education, and the farm school.
Their overall purpose is to “educate and develop members of the local community within the framework provided by the South African Constitution” (extract from the Hantam Community Education Trust’s Mission Statement). Proof of their success in achieving this is evident throughout the Centre while a clear example is the fact that some of its current teachers were among the Centre’s early learners.
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We were about to stop searching for projects in Aliwal North when we came across this really exciting initiative; we managed to speak to Themba who told us all about a training programme that he had taken part in. The program – an initiative of the Maletswai Municipality and the Department of Social Development – is aimed at the rehabilitation of offenders in order to give them a second chance through practical training that will give them skills to earn a living and the confidence to not revert to their criminal past. Themba now not only employs others in his welding business but also trains any youth who are interested in learning so that he can motivate them to seek more constructive alternatives to criminal paths.
The EXPEDITION Project team would like to thank the following for their generous support along the way:
The Paddocks (at Kuilfontein Stables), Colesberg
Springfontein House, Springfontein
Riverside Lodge, Aliwal North