Vhangani School in Limpopo Province South Africa.
We have had a partnership with Vhangani school since 2003. Vhangani is between Makhado and Thohoyandou. If you look hard you can find it using Google earth. It is a very poor area deep in the countryside. There are very large fruit farms owned by very rich farmers. Many of the parents at Vhangani have work labouring on these farms.
How we made the link
Hungerford was looking for a school partner to make the reality of life in the developing world something immediate and personal for our staff and students and to broaden our horizons beyond inner London. Vhangani was looking for an international link for similar reasons and to connect with existing practice the sort of teaching style being required of them by the “outcomes based education” curriculum that had been newly set up in South Africa and in which they had had little effective training. Ten years ago, via Link Community Development schools linking.
Initial contact was hard, as messages and work sent did not seem to get through. Both schools had very little idea of the other apart from a few out of date photos, which we milked for all they were worth and then some.
We then worked on getting a phone number for the Head Teacher. This was also difficult because we found each other’s accents very hard to decipher but we persisted. Regular parcels via Link enabled basic joint work and common displays in both schools. Grants from the British Council enabled exchange visits in 2005 (1 teacher each way) and twice since (2 teachers each way) which has given us a bank of photos and films and some lived experience of each other’s situation.
Comparing our schools
Hungerford is inner city London, in the most deprived ward of the eighth most deprived borough in the country. We are 64% Free School Meals and a high proportion of children with identified special needs. There is a high level of unemployment locally. We are a Children’s Centre which caters for children from 6 months to 11, involving outreach to parents of pre-school children and provision for babies as well as three year olds. We have 400+ children speaking 30 different languages at home (44% EFL) and a very diverse ethnic identification. We have children or teachers from every continent in the world except Antarctica. We are 40% Christian, 33% Muslim, 20% no religion. We are co-located with The Bridge Special School and work together with them on a variety of projects. We now have between 25 and 30 children in a class. We have had a lot of ICT investment in the last decade.
Vhangani is in a deprived part of rural Limpopo. The school also caters for around 400+ children, with around 44-48 in a class. The school community is overwhelmingly Christian from communities speaking Tshi-Venda or Tsonga. Afrikaans and English are also spoken widely and teachers speak all these and several other of South Africa’s many languages. Most local employment is casual and there is a high level of unemployment. Many of the children are looked after by grandparents because the parents have had to migrate to Jo’burg to find work. Some of the teachers have computers/internet.
Visits to Vhangani
Click below to see photos of visits to Vhangani.
Paul Atkin visited in 2005
Vhangani 2005 (8 photos)
Sarah Lewis visited in 2010 (13 photos)
Jim Pang and Serena Massouras visited in 2012
Charlotte Ford visited Vhangani in August 2014. There are 15 pictures in this section.
Traditional stories from the Venda region of South Africa
Tshi-Vebda version by Wilson Mamphodo
English version and illustrations by Paul Atkin