Merweville Primary Rides the Information Highway
Merweville Primary School have named their Computer Laboratory KOUP. The Khoi San word refers to the excess fat in which the liver of animals was traditionally roasted over an open fire to enhance the flavour. Gina Mans, the acting principal at Merweville, is thrilled that the Computer Laboratory enhances their 'academic sandwiches'.
And Merweville Primary have already tasted academic success. A boy arrived at the school in Grade 5 with only the most basic literacy and numeracy skills. The school allowed him to repeat the grade and immediately supported using the software that Khanya recommends. This young learner has not only caught up with his peers, but is ahead of some of them too. His personal development is even more remarkable. Similarly, educators are relieved that they can approach multi-grade classes more effectively since they can set meaningful work for one group while providing another with guidance and individual attention. The Computer Laboratory is not a convenient babysitter. And parents know this from firsthand experience.
Parents, some of them the wives of farmers, have themselves been empowered by their access to the Computer Laboratory. Their newly acquired skills enable them to assist with the bookkeeping on their farms and businesses and to access the Internet or other software to download material for their children's projects and then email it to them at boarding school. But Gina says that the most remarkable development is not the acquisition of skills. It is in fact more far-reaching. The women and other members of the community are being empowered. At Merweville education through technology can be translated into community empowerment through technology.
And the community turned up in full force for the launch. The school's oldest surviving ex-pupil, Mr Koos Erasmus, was there to assist with the cutting of the ribbon at the launch. His daughter and her husband, one of the few families who still own the farm that was initially allocated to farmers during the Anglo-Boer War, fetched him from the retirement centre in Laingsburg so that he could attend this special occasion. He completed his schooling at Merweville Primary in 1933.
The small remote town of Merweville, which is accessible only via a dirt road, is now as close to the Information Highway as a school in the centre of the city. The reception, corsages and mementoes for the Khanya Team, who traveled the dusty road to the launch, speaks volumes about the value that they attach to empowerment through technology.