“What legacy will you leave behind?”
Ntsika Secondary School Principal Madeleine Schoeman was addressing the Grade 8s at Rotary’s handover of their brand- new toilets in the second week of the school year.
Ntsika has earned warm support from the community for its massive turnaround in academic performance and school culture. From a matric pass rate of below 30% in 2012, the school’s performance has improved consistently under Schoeman’s leadership. The 2020 Ntsika matrics achieved an 85% pass rate and nearly doubled their Bachelor passes: 46 were eligible to apply for university this year.
The Rotary Club of Grahamstown has recognised in a very tangible way the hard work of Ntsika’s learners and teachers, and Schoeman’s leadership, by upgrading the school’s toilet facilities.
In 2016, learners and teachers endured broken toilets, blocked drains and sewage leaks. The Grade 8s of 2021 will experience their five years at Ntsika under very different circumstances from those of the 2020 matrics. It was this Schoeman wanted to make sure they appreciated.
“You need to know what you’ve inherited,” she told the Grade 8s, spaced across the school’s lawn’s under strict Covid-19 protocols.
“Before you came, for many years learners had to spend Friday afternoons cleaning the toilets. There was only one set of toilets and often no water – yet sewage would spill up on to the grounds,” Schoeman said.
“Today we have water. And we have these beautiful clean proper toilets. We are very fortunate.”
The school has enjoyed support in kind over the years, with Schoeman bringing in a range of resources. Rotary’s Ros Parker, handing over a commemorative plaque, said, “This project would never have worked if it were not for the wisdom and experience of people like you.”
Schoeman thanked Rotary and the Education Department’s Circuit Manager for Makana, Nombeko Xalabile, for their support of the school.
Xalabile emphasised how grateful the education community was for the support Rotary provided.
“You have made these learners special,” she said. “And we are so grateful for that.”
How Ntsika’s toilets came about
Rotary member Andy Long told the gathering that the project had started with a proposal by Budgie Vassiliou in 2016.
Targeting one of Rotary’s six areas of international focus, water and sanitation, the project would connect the school’s sewage to the municipal mains, totally upgrade all learners’ and staff ablution blocks, create a scullery block and secure water supply in the drought stricken area with irregular municipal water supply. Broken guttering and down pipes would be replaced to enable rainwater harvesting; four 10 000-litre water tanks were being installed and all ablution blocks would sport tiled walls, more hygienic and easier to keep clean than the previous painted walls.. The initial cost estimate was around R1 million but grew to R1.5m
Planning meetings involved Rotary members Billy Krige, Patrick Pringle, the late Bill Mills, the school’s SGB, the ward councillor and Deparetment of Education officials followed.
Gavin Keeton led the fundraising which was done according to Rotary’s Global Grant application system.
By late 2019 Keeton was finalising the funds and donors, to start the project in early 2020.
Covid struck just before the donor funds were transferred to the Club’s account; however, the fact that the exchange rate went through the roof at the time worked in their favour, and what has been around R1.5 million became just over R2m.
“Work started in May 2020, after the hard lockdown eased, and was completed in November 2020,” Long said. “There were a few breaks due to Covid, and different times when the Principal, staff or learners were isolating. Nevertheless, work continued and Budgie and I did our twice monthly, or more, site inspections.”
Among others, Long acknowledged the project’s donors, The Rotary Foundation, and the Rotary Clubs of Jackson Hole, US , Uttoxeter, Britain, Port Moody, Canada, Smith Mountain Lake, US, Fort Collins, US and Grahamstown, as well as Rotary Districts D-4470 (Brazil), D-5440 (USA), D-7570 (USA), and D- 9370 (SA).
“To the most important people – the learners of Ntsika. It was your hard work that motivated us to do this project and I trust that you will enjoy and look after your improved facilities,” Long said.
What the project entailed
• Refurbishment of all learner and staff toilets, including tiling of walls, electric fittings, doors, toilet roll holders, mirrors, bins
• New plumbing throughout
• Connected existing conservancy tank to sewer mains with pump installed
• Hydro-blasting of sewer drains
• New scullery – walls and floors tiled, stainless steel basins and tables, geyser and power points
• Kitchen refurbished – tiled walls and floors, and new stainless steel table
• A lot of painting throughout
• Connected Gift of the Givers tanks to mains with new pump installed for standby water supply. The school now never has a water outage, as long as there is power
• New guttering fitted on all main buildings plus 4 x 10 000l tanks installed for additional water storage. The tank area was enclosed with metal railings
• All existing holes and leaks in the roof repaired
• Connected Gift of the Givers water treatment effluent pipe to the conservancy tank
• 2 water fountains built for the learners to drink from
• Kitchen/scullery/workshop roller doors serviced
• Broken airbricks replaced
Projects by Rotary Grahamstown in 2020
• The Ntsika Senior Secondary School Global Grant Project (Water and Sanitation) was completed in November 2020. The club raised funds totalling just over R2 million – the largest project ever undertaken by this club.
• Covid-19 related projects:
From members’ contributions, Viv de Klerk’s Cryptic Quiz and club funds, the club donated just under R80 000 to:
Rotarian Andy Long’s Food Voucher Scheme for vulnerable citizens
Food Security Cluster (part of Makana Revive!)
Brookshaw Home for the elderly
• The club also raised funds to distribute to the following organisations and individuals:
GADRA Whistle Stop School’s Maths Project at St Mary’s School;
The Theatre Benevolent Fund in memory of the late Rotarian and National Arts Festival Director Lynette Marais;
Funds from “Carols by Candlelight” will benefit: Child Welfare Nursery School, the House of Joy, and the Little Flower Child Care Centre;
The Anns’ Christmas food parcels to elderly indigent people;
Christmas Cakes distributed on Christmas Day to all the emergency service providers in Grahamstown.
- For more information about how Rotary works locally, please see their website www.rotaryclubofgrahamstown.co.za and their Facebook page “RotaryClubofGrahamstown”. For membership details contact Ian Suttie: firstname.lastname@example.org