Bhabhathane means Change

Despite its magnificence, the Franschhoek Valley is not immune from the national crisis in the South African education system; characterised by high drop-out rates, poor pass rates, and extreme differences in the quality of learning being achieved between and within schools.

In the 18 years since 1994 there have been four Ministers of Education, a large proportion of the national budget has been allocated to education, five new curriculums have been introduced and then changed, and countless textbooks have been provided and then replaced. Some of the early curriculum changes were simply unworkable as a result of undue haste to make a political statement, insufficient research, an array of new terms and acronyms and insufficient understanding of the teachers’ ability to implement the changes. Yet, despite the present situation, positive change is possible.

As a microcosm of South African society, the Franschhoek Valley offers a contained geographical environment …

As a microcosm of South African society, the Franschhoek Valley offers a contained geographical environment that allows for the manageable implementation of new solutions, with the intention of potential future roll-out to other areas. With this in mind, the Franschhoek Schools Transformation Project (FSTP) was initiated more than a year ago, with the objective of transforming the valley’s seven local schools. With the Planning Phase of the project concluded, the design and implementation of a number of high priority initiatives, selected by the schools, is now set to begin.

To properly capture the intentional work of transformation the project will focus on, the acronym FSTP has been replaced with the more evocative, ‘Bhabhathane’ – an isiXhosa word for  ‘butterfly’ – which draws attention to the promise and delight a new approach to education will bring to all the people of the valley.

The Bhabhathane Project will extend to the 20 Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs) within the valley, which care for more than 700 pre-school children daily, and the seven primary and secondary schools that cater for approximately  4,400 learners, taught by some 270 teachers. Of these seven schools, five are categorised as “Quintile 1” by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and are therefore non-fee-paying schools. The seven schools within the scope of the Bhabhathane Project are: Bridge House, Dalubuhle Primary, Groendal Primary, Groendal Secondary, Franschhoek High, Wemmershoek Primary and Wes-eind Primary.

The project is overseen by Steering Committee, which comprises the principals of the seven schools, chaired by Mr Lance Cyster, Principal of Wes-eind Primary. Additional members of the committee include Mr Ernest Messina, who represents the Franschhoek Valley Transformation Charter, and Mr Rowan Smith.

The project is directed by local resident Mr Alastair Wood, who is widely experienced in projects of this nature within the corporate sector, and he is supported by Ms Jennifer Court, an experienced educationalist in private and public sectors, particularly in development roles.  A number of part-time members of the project team bring to bear skills in ICT, Change Management and Communications and expert educationalists are frequently consulted.

Close working relationships have been developed with the WCED to ensure that all efforts are in line with those of the department and relationships have been forged with numerous NGOs who work within education in order to identify opportunities to work together and to take advantage of work already done.