Anglican congregations are taking imaginative initiatives to support education, the Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa heard this week.
Mr Vernon Hammond of Pietermaritzburg told how his church had decided to run a homework club every afternoon from 2 to 6pm, after it found local children studying in a bus shelter, under a streetlight.
Almost two years on, their church is open daily for what it calls its ‘B-sharp’ club, providing a safe space for homework and music studies.
Noting that the children’s marks had improved radically, and that they and their families had become church members, Mr Hammond challenged other congregations to open their doors to children who have nowhere else to go between schools closing and parents returning from work.
Education – in schools and tertiary institutions, and theological learning – was at the heart of the four-day meeting of the Synod held in Benoni, South Africa, and of its commitment for future work.
The Rt Revd Peter Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Christ the King, who heads ACSA’s education work, reported on other current initiatives.
These range from parishes funding shoes or uniforms for learners, equipping playgrounds and setting up bursary funds, through to Anglican schools providing training days, internships, and other partnerships for educators in their local areas.
Dioceses and parishes are also setting up schools, often on church-owned land. In Gauteng, the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Boys’ School will be built in partnership with Vuleka Schools.
Bishop Lee reported the registration of the Anglican Board of Education in Southern Africa, ABESA, which he chairs, as an NPO (Non-Profit Organisation). This responds to the Archbishop’s 2012 initiative challenging the church to renew its historic commitment to education.
Under the Archbishop’s initiative, the church has committed itself:
- to strengthen what our Province is already doing in education;
- to encouraging parishes in the ongoing upliftment of communities through partnership with local public schools; and
- to create more excellent church schools for all.
The Synod was helped in its reflections by Professor Mary Metcalfe of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, whose presentation highlighted some of the complexities of, and huge disparities across education in Southern Africa.
She challenged ACSA to dig more deeply into questions of why, where, and how the church should be involved in education – calling for specific and practical responses to local situations. Homework clubs were just one example of what could and should be done.
Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman, 021 763 1320 (office hours)
The Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, 082 856 2082 (during Synod)
The Text of the motion follows below:
1. Welcomes the report of the Archbishop’s Initiative in Education as set out in the 1st Agenda Book, page 33.
2. Supports the incoming Board of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa Schools Trust in pursuing the objectives set out by PSC 2012, and in communicating the vision, nurturing relationships, accessing resources and progressing the activities set out in the draft plan for 2014 (see item 9A following this Resolution).
3. Authorises the Board to appoint necessary staff on the proviso that no cost shall accrue to the Common Provincial Fund, and in light of the minimal use of the grant of R120,000 from the Pan Anglican Fund for education made by PSC 2012, renews that grant for the 12 months to PSC 2014 to a total of R120,000 after payment of the expenses to date, for use on interim expenses.
9A Action plan to 2014
- Develop action plan to 2014 September (To be finalised by board and director)
- Support the development of the Archbishop Thabo Boys’ School
- Continue conversation around initiative with the Communion and wider face to face interactions
- Investigate starting a new school
- Interact with government and other independent bodies around public policy and curriculum
- Research and develop appropriate Christian curriculum for independent schools
- Promote education initiative activities around Gauteng
- Identify schools where partnerships can be cultivated
- Support government schools on church property
- Monitor activity by the Anglican church in schools across the province
- Institutional development
- Build a team
- Build networks (e.g. universities)
- The constitution of a board
Deadlines: To be confirmed as each action is initiated