When it comes to South Africa’s ailing education system, few would argue that new ideas are desperately needed. As pupils returned to schools across the country this week, a small number of children in a Cape Town township stepped through the doors of a new school. The first private girls’ school in Khayelitsha, Molo Mhlaba is promising its students a different kind of education. By REBECCA DAVIS.
It’s the second day of the new school year, and the young pupils at Khayelitsha’s Molo Mhlaba school are busy. In a brightly painted classroom named in honour of Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, children are threading cylinders on to tubes and working together on puzzles. A “book nook” in one corner features among its volumes Zakes Mda and a children’s science book by Stephen Hawking translated into Xhosa. On a dress-up rack hangs not fairy wings, but a stethoscope.
Molo Mhlaba is a school with a difference, and these girls are its very first students. When this period of supervised play is over, they will move into the neighbouring hall for a yoga session. In the afternoon, it’s time for robotics. Acting principal Dr Rethabile Sonibare unpacks a deconstructed computer set on which the youngsters will learn to code.