A donation of 150 brand-new desks is set to bring much-needed relief to KwaMagxaki High School matrics who have struggled to focus while sharing cramped workspaces.
Yet it is not only in the classroom that the school’s youngsters are benefiting. The Gqeberha institution, which serves a community severely affected by unemployment, has also taken possession of outdoor gym equipment to shape healthy bodies along with sharpened minds.
The desks and gym facility are the latest investments by SPAR Eastern Cape in the school, which lies close to the retail group’s distribution centre in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Earlier this year the Group provided kit to the school’s netball, rugby, soccer, basketball and athletics teams to cultivate a sense of unity in practice and during competition.
In addition, the retailer has remarked the school’s netball court and soccer fields and embarked on a programme to replace broken windows.
Advertising manager Roseann Shadrach said the SPAR Group was in the business of creating “forever smiles”.
“We knew that we had a responsibility to ensure that the scholars attend school regularly and that the task ahead was not a handout but more a hand up,” she said.
“We engaged with the principal to ascertain the daily needs and challenges that faced the school, teachers and learners in order for us to put together a plan of action for the year.”
Deputy principal Nosiphiwo Fasi said the desks, which arrived three weeks ago, came as a blessing as matrics had been sitting three adjacent at the old table-top work surfaces.
Being crammed together made concentrating difficult, she explained.
“We have been suffering with the desks. Three learners on two chairs brought a lot of challenges and didn’t sit well with us.
“Now the new desks will be used across five classrooms and the old ones can be used elsewhere.”
Having learning-conducive classroom equipment went a long way in creating positive attitudes among the learners, she said.
“It’s very important to instil a sense of pride.”
Matric learner Lwanga Lubuza was grateful for the desks that would make writing his all-important final exams more comfortable and help his peers improve their focus.
The 18-year-old, who hoped to teach one day having been inspired by those who taught him, was also pleased that those in lower grades would benefit from the desks and gym equipment.
The latter, which includes leg-raise machines, air-walkers and exercise bikes, came into operation earlier this year and has proved a hit.
Not only is it used by the school’s athletes for strength and conditioning purposes ahead of their weekend matches, but by youngsters eager to test their physical prowess at breaktime.
“They like it too much,” Fasi teased.
“At times we have to remind them to go back to the classroom when the bell rings.”
She thanked the retailer, adding that they also enjoyed an excellent relationship with the neighbourhood’s SPAR outlet.
“Seeing the absolute elation on their faces is an experience that cannot be described in words,” Shadrach said.
The retailer, she explained, was committed to encouraging leadership through relationships with its communities.
“Equally important is the opportunity to encourage a healthy lifestyle,” she added.
“We want our future customers to focus on healthy eating and exercise but understand that the economy doesn’t necessarily allow for this. Not many can afford to be a member of a gym.”
Therefore initiatives like these opened the way to a better, healthier life, Shadrach said.