Students at Sada Primary School in Whittlesea during lessons

A School in Africa. A perspective for the future.

Elementary schools in the Eastern Cape, South Africa – We are helping our Little Five get bigger!

There are five elementary schools in the Eastern Cape we will be giving financial assistance to as part of our “A School In Africa” project, and all of these schools feed into Ekuphumleni High School in Whittlesea, which we supported with the 2019 Africa Runners campaign. 

More specifically, we are assisting Bhongolethu Primary School, Lonwabo Primary School, Ixhadi Labanatwana Primary School, Sada Primary School and Sibuyele Primary School.

After eighth grade, most children transfer from one of these schools to Ekuphumleni High School, which has a reputation for its students graduating with above-average results and its dedicated teachers. Many parents are willing to take into account that their children will have to cover great distances to attend this school, because they know the children will receive a good education here.

The outdoor area of Sada Primary School in Whittlesea
Sada Primary School in Whittlesea
Students at Ixhadi Labantwana Primary School during break
Break at Ixhadi Labantwana Primary School

Creating better conditions at primary schools

The situation at the elementary schools is problematic. With the funds raised by the Africa Runners and your  donations we want to support these primary schools. We want to repair the structural problems which have developed over the years since the schools were first built; some of these problems are quite severe. And with the help of with our project partners, we want to invest in teacher training, especially when it comes to teaching children to read and write. After all, high-quality education provides young people an opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty. 

The process of teaching children how to read and write often focuses simply on the task of acquiring a skill. There is not an emphasis on the joy of reading or on reading to obtain information. In some places, there may be up to 60 children in a classroom in the lower grades. And the run-down condition of the buildings, some of which are over 40 years old, makes it difficult to teach and learn. 

Students at Bhongolethu Primary School in Whittlesea during lessons

Inadequate water supply, leaky roofs, not enough books

The Umckaloabo Foundation is contributing to the 2024 “School In Africa” projects with the assistance of the Samara Foundation. At these five elementary schools in Eastern Cape, the objective is to take care of desperately needed repairs and create a better infrastructure. Leaky roofs need repairing; water tanks and pipes have to be replaced or installed; and there are not enough textbooks for the children. 

In addition to having a dependable infrastructure at the schools, the key to success is having motivated teachers. And we have found them at these five schools. We want to support them so they can continue to do good work. This means investing in teacher training and help teachers connect with each other.

South Africa and its deep divide

South Africa is an emerging nation marked by deep divides amongst its people. 30 years have passed since the end of apartheid, yet large numbers of South Africans still live in poverty; they often do not have access to running water or only have electricity for a few hours at a time.

Officially the unemployment rate is over 30%; unofficially it is much higher. Many must subside on minimum wage by working on a farm, in a factory or as domestic help. 

The aftermath of HIV+/AIDS still affects the lives of people here, especially children who have lost their parents to the disease. 65% of the population lives in urban areas, because trying to get by in rural regions is even more difficult.

Eastern Cape – one of the poorest regions in South Africa

The Eastern Cape is a highly rural very impoverished region; there are hardly any jobs to be had. Many children here grow up without their parents, because adults often have to move to larger cities (Cape Town, Durban or Johannesburg) to find work and can only return home occasionally. As a result, children are often raised by their grandmothers. We want to offer these families a way to break the cycle of poverty and create a future for young people here with the help of a good education and their own motivation.

Map that shows the Eastern Cape in South Africa

The “dire straits” of education in South Africa

An October 2023 article in the South African online magazine Business Tech stated that the South African school system was in “dire straits”: over 40% of students there do not complete their secondary education. From 2019 to 2021, roughly 30% of South African school students from grades 9 to 11 dropped out of school, and only 57.9% of children who were eligible during this period actually graduated. “The shocking dropout rate should, however, not be a surprise, as South Africa has one of the worst-performing education systems in the world,” wrote Business Tech. 

The vital significance of literacy competence

The 2021 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) on literacy competence showed that 78% of fourth-graders could not read for meaning in any language. The study found that the students who do not develop solid reading skills in younger years will have difficulties when technical texts are introduced, especially if English is not their native language. Consequently, the Umckaloabo Foundation and the Samara Foundation will focus their joint investments on improving literacy teaching so that children learn these fundamental skills early in life. Reading comprehension is an indispensable foundation for learning other subject matter in further education.

The key to success: motivated teachers

According to Business Tech, another serious problem is the lack of skilled teachers; qualified instructors often leave the teaching profession for good. Thanks to the presence of the Samara Foundation in the Eastern Cape, we have good knowledge of the schools we have selected, their administrators and their teachers. 

We work hand in hand here with dedicated teachers who train their students properly during the eight years of primary education, covering all of the essential subjects and motivating them to learn before they transfer to Ekuphumleni High School. Samara’s efforts here pay off for each and every child.

Dedicated teachers – good students

In this context, it becomes clear that the Ekuphumleni High School in Whittlesea has achieved something marvelous: in recent years, 85% of each of its graduating classes completed their education, and many students even received awards such as a scholarship from the prime minister. This allows even children from very poor families to study at a university, which opens up new opportunities for them. 

The objective of our support for the primary schools in the Eastern Cape is to offer the children such a solid education that they can fully benefit from the top-quality teaching and learning environment at Ekuphumleni High School later on.

Here is what your donation will achieve:

  • Patch leaks in the roofs so that all of the classrooms can be used again.
  • Create a reliable water supply by setting up new tanks, piping and pumps.
  • Install additional toilets.
  • Set up school libraries which invite children to read.
  • Provide continuing education for the teachers to strengthen their competence in literacy education.

The children at these elementary schools in the Eastern Cape will directly and immediately benefit from each of these measures being implemented. Many of the measures can be coordinated to take place at multiple schools; at the same time, we can also respond flexibly to the greatest need on site. 

Students at Sada Primary School in Whittlesea during lessons

Ensuring success in the Eastern Cape – putting dedication and experience towards a good education 

For many years we have had a close and fruitful partnership with the Samara Foundation, and they selected five schools as the focus of our 2024 project. At these schools there is a need for significant construction work to repair the state of the buildings. But the teachers and principals there are also highly motivated and determined to help move their institutions forward. This means putting substantial effort into literacy competence, teacher training and an ongoing dialogue between the schools so they can mutually learn from successful concepts. 

Nontlezi Resha, Director of Bhongolethu Primary School

Nontlezi Resha, the principal at Bhongolethu Primary School, says, 

“We must continually support and improve the learning experiences we provide to our most valuable asset – our children. In Whittlesea, like many other parts of our country, education is the key that unlocks the door to opportunities.

It is the empowering force that enables individuals to not only dream big but also to pursue those dreams with the conviction that they can be achieved.“

A solid education paves the way

For many years we have had a close and fruitful partnership with the Samara Foundation, an organization which focuses among other things on primary and secondary education in the Eastern Cape region. Early education creates the cornerstone for proper schooling and helps children to grow into independent, self-confident, responsible people. This is why Samara Foundation supports numerous early childhood development centers and focuses not only on infrastructure and equipment but on continuing education and a network of teachers. 

Louisa Feiter, founder and director of Samara Foundation

Louisa Feiter, the founder and director of the der Samara Foundation: 

“A good education is the difference between breaking the poverty cycle and staying trapped within it. It is here that we can give hope and the best opportunities to children and families in Whittlesea by supporting the schools that allow children to thrive, succeed and go far beyond the reality of their current lives and achieve their dreams. This is our dream."

With the assistance of Samara and the 2019 Africa Runners, we supported Ekuphumleni High School in Whittlesea. We were able to open six additional classrooms, set up home-economics facilities with stoves and kitchen equipment, improve the water and plant trees. Every year this school receives a visit from a group of dedicated members of the Foundation. The Ekuphumleni school regularly yields exceptionally good academic achievements and was even featured on television in 2023. 

The future starts here: our "School in Africa" projects since 2016


St. Steven’s Secondary School in Kasantha, Malawi

SStudents from St. Stephen's Primary School, future pupils from St. Steven's Secondary School

St. Stevens Secondary School, our “School in Africa” in 2023, is a ray of light on the horizon for young people in the Kasantha region, because currently no secondary education is available to the more than 4000 children and adolescents who attend the ten local primary schools. Construction is scheduled to begin in May 2024.

The nearest secondary school is 12 kilometers away, and it can only be reached by foot. This is especially difficult for girls because they are often bothered or sexually harassed on their way to school. In addition, it is difficult to perform well after a two-hour walk to school. The 2023 Africa Runners raised a sum of €110,568 with which we will open four classrooms, build two accommodations for teachers, install toilets, dig a well and set up an administrative office.

Our project partner is Mwawi Shaba, the education officer for Karonga diocese in Malawi. Educating children and young people is dear to his heart. His own experience has taught him what a difference a good school education can make in the lives of young people. With the Karonga diocese, the Umckaloabo Foundation has already successfully founded several primary and secondary schools.


Makululu Combined Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia

Schüler im Eingang der Makululu School

The Don Bosco Makululu Combined School in Kabwe near Lusaka consists of a primary school and technical secondary school with a total of over 850 students. Thanks to the technical equipment there, students can complete secondary school and take a statewide technical exam. This dramatically increases their chances on the job market.

In 2022, the Africa Runners raised money to expand the Makululu Combined School and make it possible for more children to receive a dependable top-quality education. The Africa Runners successfully brought in €105,000!

In the meantime, Manos Unidas has come on board as another partner and invested €70,000. Together we are financing further expansion.

Our project partners on site, Pastor Michal Wzietek and the Salesians of Don Bosco, finalized in 2024 the construction of additional classrooms. As a result, another 350 young people can go to the school, which is now even able to offer a technical degree which will make it possible to continue on to university.


St. Mary Primary School in Mzuzu, Malawi

Children at St. Mary Primary School in Mzuzu, Malawi

In the rural parts of Malawi, there is a great need for good schools. A proper school education that is accessible can be a way out of poverty and dependency, especially for girls from poor families who often have to help at home and are frequently married off at an early age.

This is why Pastor John Moyo in Mzuzu worked with the Umckaloabo Foundation to expand St. Mary’s primary school so that more girls could get ahead in life. New additional classrooms were built. Vegetable gardens and fruit trees helped create a more diverse meal plan for the children at St. Mary’s and many other of the 260 primary schools in the Mzuzu diocese. Another important building block is continuing education for the teachers. We bring dedicated teachers together within a network and offer them further input through workshops or coaching.


St. Mauritius Secondary School in Karonga, Malawi

St. Mauritius Secondary School in Malawi

Northern Malawi is one of the least developed regions in the world. Schools and hospitals are usually so distant as to be completely inaccessible. Children and teenagers have to help tend the fields; girls are often married off early. Bishop Martin from Karonga wants to open up a brighter future perspective to the younger generation. He is convinced that education is what will help youths have a chance to shape their later lives.

In Livingstonia, a secondary school with a boarding school was created so that even children from remote rural areas have a way to receive a good education. Thanks to the first round of financing from the Umckaloabo Foundation, the first classrooms were built in 2020 and the first students could begin attending classes. The contributions of the Africa Runners allowed us to finish construction and open the school in 2022!


Ekuphumleni Secondary School, Whittlesea, South Africa

The students at Ekuphumleni Secondary School

The Ekuphumleni Secondary School in Whittlesea was opened in 1979 under the apartheid government, and for many years it yielded only mediocre educational outcomes. Lizwe Ngalo, a dedicated teacher who died in 2020, became principal in 2005 and gradually shaped the culture at the school so that over time its teachers and students came to know a better way of teaching and working. In the meantime, the school has produced much greater results despite difficult conditions. With his enthusiasm and discipline, Lizwe Ngalo accomplished something magnificent!

Initially there were 800 students in Whittlesea but now there are 1400, so the school desperately needed new classrooms. Thanks to the help of the Umckaloabo Foundation, these classrooms were finally made available in summer 2022. The Foundation also helped arrange for important teaching materials for computer courses and other lessons.


Northmead Secondary School Durban, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Logo of Northmead Secondary School Durban, South Africa

The Northmead Secondary School suffers from chronic underfinancing. It receives only minimal state subsidies, and there is an above-average number of nearby families who often cannot pay the school fees. As a result, the much-needed renovation projects at the school came to a standstill.

At Northmead, we were able to build new bathrooms, acquire books and other classroom materials for classes, and we replaced the ant-damaged wooden cabinets with metal ones. This means we helped establish a better setting for students to learn and supported the school in maintaining its high graduation rates in the future as well.


St. Francis and Clare Secondary School in Lusaka, Sambia

Students at St. Francis and Clare Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia

With the help of the Franciscan nun Loice Kashangura, in 2017 we started building the St. Francis and Clare Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia. The school opened in 2019, and now every year 750 children from the Chipata Compound outside the nation’s capital have an opportunity to take classes and complete a school education that will open doors. After construction was finished, we were able to take on other projects with Sister Loice, such as setting up solar panels so that the students had an independent source of energy.

Many young people whose families cannot afford tuition can still attend school thanks to our scholarship program


St. Ignatius of Loyola Secondary School in Nthalire, Malawi

Unterstützer der Umckaloabo-Stiftung vor der St. Ignatius School in Malawi

The Umckaloabo Foundation launched its “A School in Africa” program with the St. Ignatius Secondary School in Nthalire, Malawi. With €66,000 in support raised by the Africa Runners charity run – which was also held for the first time that year – the Karonga diocese was able to build a secondary school with a boarding-school facility. In this very poor and remote region, the new school acts as a light on the horizon for many young people who otherwise had no way of attending a secondary school.

Thanks to our scholarship program, even children from very poor families who cannot afford to send their children to boarding school can now have a chance to become educated. 

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Small children holding letters of Thank You

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Konterfei Uwe Bothur, Vorstand Umckaloabo Stiftung


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