Cutting-Edge upgrade to historic Farm School boosts rural education in the Winelands

By September 25, 2019 Uncategorized

South Africa, Worcester, Friday, 20 September 2019; MINISTER OF EDUCATION, WESTERN CAPE, Debbie Schäfer officially inaugurated the new school building at Botha’s Halte Primary School earlier today. The historic farm community school on the outskirts of Worcester has been converted into a state-of-the-art facility.
Botha’s Halte makes a valuable contribution in demonstrating how cutting-edge digital technologies can be utilised to reach and contribute to quality education in rural and outlying areas of South Africa,” says Western Cape Provincial Minister of Education Debbie Schäfer. “The school has already become an educational hub for the district and through easy digital teaching, seamlessly links with other teaching institutions such as the University of Stellenbosch can occur.”
The original school was founded during the 1920’s and was known as “Anna Zaal”. Comprising a single hall, it served as the first school building on the property and has been restored as the new focus and reception area for the school.

While the facility continues to function as the Botha’s Halte farm school – located off the R43 in the Breede River Valley, between the Witzenberg and Slanghoek mountain ranges – it now encompasses a revolutionary new building in use since April.

Central to the school’s design focus was to showcase educational best practice from around the world by making digital technology available throughout the teaching spaces. All classrooms are equipped with the latest technology such as e-beams which are connected to the internet.

Operated by the Western Cape Education Department, the school harnessed top level educational, commercial and design skills and experience, to make the much-needed rural facility a reality. The design was undertaken by architectural firm Meyer & Associates, a practice with an extensive range of national education sector projects under its belt.

The fully fitted and furnished buildings can accommodate 240 learners, roughly about double its former capacity. The learners are accommodated in a single stream from Grade R to Grade 7.

According to architect Tiaan Meyer, the Botha’s Halte school design applied ecological and sustainability principles.
These considerations influenced the architectural form of the buildings but are also made visible throughout the complex and as such form part of the teaching and educational processes,” he says.
The interiors are light and bright, with an abundance of colours to stimulate the creativity of learners. Furniture and equipment have purposely been selected with this design intent in mind.

Included as part of the school is an auditorium-type multipurpose hall, two specialist classrooms with sewing machines, handwork and woodwork equipment, as well as a science laboratory.

A Discovery Centre, where learners can gather in small groups under the “tree-of-knowledge columns”, forms the heart. Here, they make use of the multi-media equipment, computers, a screened-off audio-visual area, and good old-fashioned library books. The area also serves as break-out space from the adjacent classrooms, for group work or individual teaching.

Operationally, the teachers involved with the school are provided continuous training for the use of the high-tech learning aids. They are supported by the WCEDs and SUNCEP (University of Stellenbosch Centre for Pedagogy in the Faculty of Education).

External elements of the school incorporate two Astro turf play areas, one for older learners for formal and competitive play with stepped spectator seating, and the other, a secure and intimate exploratory play area for younger learners. Built-in play equipment has been custom designed by project partner Square One Landscape Architects, for educational purposes. Two productive play areas have also been included, the one a lemon tree orchard and a productive vegetable garden, which will eventually supply the school feeding scheme and nearby estate restaurant, BOSJES Kombuis.

From an environmental perspective, new solar and wind generator capacity now allow the buildings to function largely independent of the electrical Eskom grid. The benefits of these aspects are clearly demonstrated to learners via interactive displays throughout the school.

Rain and storm water is harvested for irrigation and stored in a large reservoir under the school buildings. The reservoir is topped up by a borehole as well as with the clean, treated effluent from a sewerage package plant.

A large rugby field/soccer pitch is planned for the lower parts of the site, which would be able to be shared with the broader community after hours and over weekends.

The project was undertaken as a private-public partnership with the BOSJES Trust.
“The many challenges facing South Africa will only be resolved through meaningful alliances, of which the new Botha’s Halte building is now a prime example,” says Minister Debbie Schäfer.
For press assistance contact Ian Manley of Manley Communications on 0861 MANLEY (626 539), email premierbrands@manley-communications.com  or visit the Press Room of Manley Communications at www.manley-communications.com.

#bothashalte #bosjes #breedevalley

ENDS/

Note to editors:

BOSJES Trust is the charitable arm of BOSJES, a tourist destination, committed to socio and economic upliftment of the area by supporting and employing locally.

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