St Marks Primary and High School Alumni

St Marks Primary and High School Alumni

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John's meeting with Chris Davies,
St Marks' Primary School Principal - April 2008

My first visit was to the Primary School to meet up with Chris Davies who has been Principal for around four years now.

Chris has continued his good work in trying to restore, maintain and expand the infrastructure on a very limited budget but is making steady progress. The lack of furniture is still a big issue although Chris is having as much repaired as financially possible during the end of term break.

Chris Davies and John O'Shea

The IT class in the old staffroom is functioning well with PC’s and Software donated through businesses or charity and is very popular with the students. However the limited number of PC’s (around 16) shared by the vast numbers of students makes it difficult to provide adequate training. Any further donations would be gratefully accepted and put to immediate good use.

The IT centre has no ISDN line to date which means that only one PC can be connected to the internet at any time. Until this is funded the students are unable to view the internet or communicate with the outside world.

The recycle centre for the local community based at the school has been running for several months now and is being promoted by Mbabane City Council as a model for others to follow. Environmental concerns are a new concept for many Swazis and it is hoped that projects like this will raise awareness.

Grade 7 Class St Marks Primary School 2008

Class sizes (of up to 70) present a problem but this is being addressed by reducing the annual intake to a more manageable number. I believe that the total number of students has been reduced from 1400 two years ago to 1300 now.

School fees are often difficult to collect, especially with the average life expectancy being 32 years, mainly due to the HIV/Aids epidemic, resulting in many children becoming orphans at some point during their education. Sponsorship is something that Chris is still considering and needs to be discussed at the PTA .

Chris Davies with IT Staff in IT Centre St Marks Primary School 2008

Many Schools in Swaziland offer food to students at a Tuck Shop during tea breaks and lunch breaks. St Mark’s would like to do the same but needs a donation of around £1,500 to build the facility. This would also raise income for the School as the Tuck Shop would be rented to parents who would supply and sell the food. The menu would be set by the school administration.

I mentioned that we have outlets in the UK that may be willing to sell items handcrafted by the parents or students. Chris agreed that this would be discussed at the next PTA meeting. The new committee for the next year will be formed in about 3 months time – after the annual audit. In the meantime Chris has sent a letter to all parents advising them of this potential opportunity and will report feedback to me when the new term starts on 12 th May.

Kindergarten classrooms St Marks Primary 2008

I discussed the potential of twinning St. Mark’s Primary School with a School based in the UK and discovered that Chris had already registered St. Mark’s Primary with and is waiting for feedback. I mentioned to Chris that a partnership between schools is not simply a fundraising opportunity but should be seen as advantageous for both parties involved. Cultural exchange through e-mails, letters and photographs is very important and raises awareness on both sides. Joint project ventures are also very popular and help to maintain the relationship. Teacher exchanges are possible and can be funded through Global Gateway.

The August 2010 centenary reunion was discussed and Chris has promised to raise this at the next PTA so that we can start to plan the event in advance.

John O'Shea - 15 May 2008