Vhutshilo Mountain School
Category: Vhutshilo Mountain School and Covid:
It is the middle of winter in Venda and weather patterns range from potentially cold and rainy to extremely hot days. Beginning the end of June, South Africa moved to Level 4 Covid status: no public gatherings, restaurants open only for takeaway, no alcohol sales and all schools closed.
In May adults 60 plus began receiving Covid vaccines and recently the Minister of Health announced that all school teachers and staff would start receiving vaccinations (government schools first followed by private schools). Their hope is by mid-July all school personnel will have been vaccinated.
The recent 3rd wave of Covid hit South Africa hard, especially in Johannesburg and Pretoria. In Venda our high school students and teachers have begun testing positive every day.
Vhutshilo Mountain School, having reopened May 3rd, has remained safe (no Covid). As of mid-June we again closed. The hope is that South Africa will be able to reopen schools by mid-July. In the meantime, the office, our outreach program, and the vegetable garden, with strict Covid safely guidelines in place, will remain open and working during level 4.
Academic progress, new training opportunities and Youth on a Mission status:
Grade R and grade 1 students enjoyed computer lessons and are now capable of using computers on their own. We are very proud of their progress and the next step will be to introduce them to the internet. The covid-19 pandemic has made us aware that we need to be well advanced in technology and educate our children from a younger age.
VMS was one of the NGO’S invited by the Global Skills Initiative South Africa program to attend training in Basic Digital Skills. The training came along at the right time and we are very excited. Reason Sithagathaga (a member of VMS support group) and I attended the training and we are receiving ongoing support. This week we shared our knowledge with the Educators/Teachers and next week Reason will begin training youth and other community members. With Covid 19 restrictions we are allowed to safely gather and train five people at a time.
We also continue weekly talk shows on the local radio station: educating the community about HIV/AIDS, bullying at schools, and domestic violence. The Youth on a Mission group has received many more likes and followers on social media and post educational articles weekly. Their goal is to continue to reach and educate adolescents.
VMS had to cancel plans to host a winter school (as an addition to our program). We had hoped to help children in primary grades attending government schools (who had not been at school due to Covid) catch up with school work during school holidays. However, due to the recent uptick in Covid cases and the new government regulations, we have had to cancel these plans.
We look forward to welcoming our teachers, staff and children back safely and soon.
Khathu Nemafhohoni, Director