Film, Education and Sports students travel to South Africa to help in township school

Issue date: 15 July 2015

Teaching in township schools

Students from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are about to set off for the trip of a lifetime to South Africa, where they will help in township schools in KwaZulu-Natal Province.

Placement opportunities in the province were established by UWE Bristol Senior Lecturer Ben Knight, who first set up a connection when he was an education student looking for an overseas teaching opportunity.

The relationship has since blossomed into an established charity called Project Zulu that raises funds to enable the extraordinarily talented children at the township schools in the province to visit the UK, raising money for their schools by wowing audiences with their song and dance routines. In 2013 the last touring group raised £20,000 this bought 53 solar panels that produces all of their electricity.

Education students have benefitted from placements for several years, they work with teachers and children in the schools sharing knowledge and learning from each other. This year the opportunity is also being extended to include film students and members of the UWE rugby team.

The film students will record the school children as they prepare for the visit to the UK this autumn. The film will form part of their final year project and will be a valuable record of the growing connection between the university and the schools in South Africa.

The rugby players will encourage the school children to play tag rugby and work with South African coaches to introduce the sport into the schools.

Ben Knight said, “We are linking the placements this year to the exciting tour being planned for school children this autumn. As usual the children will perform at schools and venues, the icing on the cake this year is that they will represent their country by performing at Fanzones in Brighton and London for the rugby world cup. Our students are going to be working on real projects to support the 2015 tour building the excitement and momentum in South Africa and back here in the UK.”

Chris Prowse has just graduated in film-making and creative media and he is taking the opportunity to join Project Zulu to build his portfolio. He is excited at the prospect of visiting Africa for the first time.

Chris said, “My craft is editing and I am used to working in teams to produce films, this opportunity is simply amazing. Although I'm apprehensive I'm also excited I've seen footage of the children and I'm sure we can capture this and make something really special. We have been asked to produce six short videos that will document the education and sports placements, as well as the school children performing song and dance routines. A chance to film in Africa and to document such an exciting project is simply brilliant, and I'm hoping the resulting films will give my growing portfolio an added dimension, as I seek employment in this field when I return to the UK.”

For Jordan Cook, an Education student in her second year, this will be the first visit to a country outside the UK, she said, “I'm so excited about the trip and I really can't wait to go. I'm hoping that the experience will build my confidence as a teacher. My thinking is that if I can manage to teach in South Africa in a classroom with over 50 children and limited technology, teaching in the UK will be like jam on toast! I'm quite nervous as despite reading a lot about the area, nothing will be quite like the reality. I'll be leaving my husband for six weeks so I may feel a little homesick but this kind of opportunity rarely comes and I simply had to go for it.

“I think the teaching will be very different in terms of delivery and I'm really hoping that I can utilise some of the approaches and fun techniques that we employ as part of our practice in the UK. I am certain that this experience will have an impact on the way I teach in the future and I feel very lucky to be taking part.”

David Treharne, an architecture student is one of six students from the UWE 1st Rugby team who will be coaching children and introducing the sport to build some momentum in the local schools during the lead up to the rugby world cup later this year. He said, “I read about the trip on UWE Facebook and although I've travelled in Europe quite extensively during an inter-rail trip this will be something else.

“There are six of us from the UWE rugby team travelling on this placement and we will be visiting three different schools each day to coach children and infuse some enthusiasm for the game. This opportunity represents a unique chance to really contribute positively at the same time as soaking up a completely different culture.

“In preparation for the trip I have been talking to all my contacts to raise awareness and gather support and I've been overwhelmed at how generous previous rugby teams have been donating rugby balls, bibs, water bottles, hats and t-shirts. It will mean we can leave something tangible when we return to the UK as well as the memories.”

The first students depart for South Africa on 24 July. The teachers, coaches and film students depart on separate dates. This allows the groups to settle into their new school environments one week at a time instead of all descending on the township schools on mass.

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