Project Zulu plans expand as more UWE students visit South Africa

Issue date: 04 August 2014

Plans for Project Zulu, a project lead by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), are set to expand to embrace more South African Schools and a dream of bringing a choir to sing before one of the matches during the Rugby World cup in 2015.

The precursor to this is a cultural placement for 12 UWE teaching students to visit and work with six schools in the South African province of Madadeni in Kwazulu – Natal, who leave the UK this week for a working placement for six weeks.

Project Zulu was set up by UWE Bristol Primary and Early Years Education lecturer, Ben Knight, who has been visiting schools in the townships around Kwazulu for many years. Last year he organised for a choir from one school to perform to audiences all over the West Country which enabled the children to raise funds for solar panels for their school in South Africa.

Ben Knight said, “Project Zulu gives UWE Bristol students a life changing experience that enriches their education but it is a two way process, with the students at the schools wowing us all when they perform their songs and dances.

“I have a passion for Zulu song and dance and I saw an opportunity to link the two things together sending students out into the township to teach but also then bringing choirs of children from the township primary schools over to the UK to showcase their unbelievable singing and dancing talent to audiences over here.

“When UWE students from Education go to South Africa to teach in these township schools they offer a great deal of expertise and experience, although they consider themselves to be students and not fully trained teachers they have a wealth of experience.”

UWE teaching student Andrew Hilbourne from Bath is studying to be a primary school teacher. He is very excited at the prospect of the experience in South Africa. He said, “What inspired me to get involved was a talk by Ben Knight and the group of students who had been to South Africa last year. I thought that the trip sounded absolutely amazing and decided I had to be a part of this. Initially I thought there was no way that I would be able to do it, then I went along to a night where Ben played the Project Zulu videos it just blew my mind. I was so impressed with the people involved, the children, the dancing – it was just amazing to watch - so I applied and I got in, so I was over the moon really. I have offered to be a host next time and I'm really looking forward to the trip.

“I'm quite an outgoing person and as a mature student I have some life experience which I hope will help me when I am out there and enable me to give the children the best experience possible; hopefully we can all learn from each other. I know that this experience will change me as a person and I'm sure it's going to be for the better and contribute to my teaching experience.”

The future plans for Project Zulu are very exciting as Ben plans to expand the number of schools that involved in the choir tours as presently the choirs are from just one school. Ben said, “We are hoping to expand that so that all six schools that we send UWE students to will select a few children who will come together to make a community choir that will perform in the UK in 2016. This choir will perform and raise money that will benefit a community project rather than just a project in one particular school. I'm also hoping that I will be able to expand the township teaching element of Project Zulu so that we can send more education students out to offer their expertise but also develop themselves professionally by teaching in the townships.

“For the 2015 Project Zulu tour we are hoping to link up with the Rugby World Cup which is being hosted by the UK. We have already established some useful links both with the Springbok Rugby team and with RFU and the Rugby World Cup organiser here in the UK. Our dream is to have the choir perform on the pitch for a South African rugby match, so that it will be broadcast internationally and everybody will see, not just the amazing singing and dancing that these children can do, but also how UWE Bristol has supported Project Zulu and how it has an interest in what is going on around the world.”

To find out more about Project Zulu see previous news release from UWE Bristol.

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