The Khayelitsha school daring to be different

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.

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