Mellon Educate volunteers from Ireland and the UK will arrive in Cape Town this week and work on the schools until Saturday.
Cape Town - Over 300 volunteers will take on their biggest building project to date as they renovate three Khayelitsha schools.

Mellon Educate volunteers from Ireland and the UK will arrive in Cape Town this week and work on the schools until Saturday.

They will build at Sosebenza Primary School, which has 1350 pupils. They will add five classes, a playground and sheltered areas. At Usasazo High School the volunteers will build a kitchen, a sports field, an outdoor gym and sheltered social areas. Sobambisana Primary School will receive a science lab, a classroom, kitchen and playground.

The director of education for the organisation, John Curran, said they were meticulous in choosing which schools needed assistance.

“They were identified as schools where overcrowding is an issue and they were in need of extra classrooms.”

He said the classrooms would be completed this week.

“Last year we built at one school in Khayelitsha, and this year we are hoping to expand and do more next year. The feedback from the schools has been positive and they were delighted that they are getting it so quickly, otherwise they would have been on the waiting list.”

The initiative was started by Niall Mellon in 2002 and the organisation has built 25000 homes for over 125000 disadvantaged South Africans.

Curran said the organisation changed its focus from housing to education in 2008 and at the end of this year’s Building Blitz, Mellon Educate hoped to have reached 14 schools.

Chief of education for Mellon Educate, Derick Petersen, said that for two years after the new buildings, he and his team remained and assisted teachers to help better learning.

“We are a team of 12 and we also have social workers and a community liaison. We must not be stingy on supplying resources and manpower to schools.”

Petersen went from being awarded as the best high school principal in South Africa in 2013 to work with the organisation to be able to reach more pupils.

“In 2013 we worked with another NGO at Ukhanyo Primary in Masiphumelele and since we started there the Grade 3 maths pass rate went from 16.1% to 40.8% and in language it went from 37.8% to 66.4%.

“Once you support a school and help teachers and give them strategies on how to teach smarter, then the content will be better assimilated by the pupils."

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Cape Argus