23 April 2010, Grahamstown – South Africa’s oldest primary school, the 166 year-old Good Shepherd Trust School in Grahamstown, has received a long-overdue lifeline, courtesy of a R9 million grant from PetroSA, South Africa’s National Oil Company (NOC).
Officially opened today (23.04.10) by the Minister of Energy, Ms Dipuo Peters, the school previously housed all its learners in a demarcated hall. The Good Shepherd Trust School was originally established as a parish school in 1844.
The school is housed in what is considered to be the oldest Anglican Church building in South Africa. It still runs from the original building as built in 1844. Housing 248 learners, the school building has over the years deteriorated.
Learners of different grades have had to share a partitioned hall. There was no dedicated staff-room and very little space for storage. The recreational facilities were equally limited.
The PetroSA donation has however ensured that a new, modern double-storey building is constructed. The new school now boasts:
• 8 classrooms;
• 8 storerooms in each classroom;
• 6 new ablution facilities;
• 2 separate storerooms;
The second phase of the project will see the original building, now a national monument, renovated internally to provide the school with a library, a computer lab, an administration office, a kitchen, staffroom and a Principal’s office. It is expected that the second phase will be completed by the end of 2010.
Mphutumi Damane, the deputy chairman of the PetroSA Board of directors, said the NOC was convinced the revamped school would motivate learners and enhance their potential.
“PetroSA is confident that the donation will assist in creating a better life for all our people, especially those learners who had to be content with being educated at a dilapidated 166 year old school,” he said.
“As a National Oil Company we are patriotic and see ourselves playing a crucial role in the development and success of our country,” Mr Damane added.
PetroSA is committed to the social upliftment of historically disadvantaged communities. Over the last five the company has spent over R200 million countrywide in improving the quality of education, health, environment and general community development in impoverished communities.
In the Eastern Cape this has included various community improvement projects in the urban and rural areas of the province. Over the last two years PetroSA has spent over R28 million on Corporate Social Investment initiatives in the Eastern Cape. Some of these projects are:
• The R13 million revamping of the Gangatha Secondary School in Willowvale;
• A R4 million grant to modernise the Mthawelanga Secondary School in Idutywa;
• The refurbishment of three schools in Humansdorp for R4 million;
• A R1 million grant to equip two Port Elizabeth township schools with state-of-the-art computer centres;
The decision to sponsor some of these community upliftment initiatives is in part, inspired by PetroSA’s decision to construct a crude oil refinery at Coega, Port Elizabeth. PetroSA understands that the refinery will require skills and trained professionals to successfully operate it.
Prudence van der Linde, the principal of the Good Shepherd Trust School, welcomed the donation from PetroSA.
“The Good Shepherd School has been faced with the possibility of closure on more than one occasion, one of the reasons being that Teaching and Learning under the circumstances that prevailed in the old building were not conducive to that which is required for the 21st century. This gift from PetroSA has given us a new lease on life,” she said.
The Coega refinery is one of the most important investment projects to be undertaken by a South African company. It is estimated that the project will generate about 27 500 jobs during construction and over 18 000 vacancies during operation, due to direct and indirect jobs. These are much-needed jobs that are important for the regeneration and sustainability of the Eastern Cape economy.
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